SOCIALThe EU is committed to the freedom of its citizens. In 2018, 3.8% of the total working population practiced their right to live and work within another of its 28 member states. In 2017, the member countries stated their aim to protect and provide for all European citizens, in the so-called Pillar of Social Rights. The Pillar declares 20 principles that will be introduced as common law, one of these, the Principle of Equal Opportunities pledges that regardless of gender; racial or ethnic origin; religion or belief; disability; age or sexual orientation, every EU citizen has the right to equal treatment and opportunities regarding employment; social protection; education. Another direct result of the Pillar is the extension to parental leave that applies to all new parents, mothers as well as fathers. Critics say these blanket EU policies infringe on national interests and can compromise a citizen’s identity or freedoms. The current Union of ‘different speeds’ also means that not every European is created equal. Borders have been re-introduced as governments refocus on national interests.Read more of the SOCIAL aims of the EU here
ENVIRONMENTALWith ambitious, large scale projects like the Paris Agreement, institutions like the EU are proving to be the fastest way to implement and enforce legally binding green policies in the flight against climate change. Environmental quality is central to the health, economy and well-being of all citizens, so challenging climate change, unsustainable consumption, production and pollution has been a key focus point, laid out in the EU’s 2020 Climate Package. Earlier this year, the EU worked affectively in protecting it’s citizens by backing a Greenpeace-initiated lawsuit against France, over it’s lack of progress and inadequate climate action. The scale of policy is demonstrated with total (EU) emissions falling 23% between 1990 and 2014, whilst GDP grew 46% over the same period. The EU has taken significant steps to become the world’s most emissions efficient economy. However, many of these strict restrictions and quality control regulations (particularly for agriculture and farming) has resulted in considerable backlash, striking and unemployment. The balance between necessary and appropriate action with support for workers operating within these industries still remains difficult and complex.
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INFORMATIONThe EU is also concerned with its citizens' digital rights, for instance the protection of their personal data. In general, the EU can respond much faster and more forcefully to technological developments, than governments operating individually. Member states rely heavily on European initiatives and regulation to identify potential data, copyright and privacy improvements. In March 2018 the news broke that British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested the data of millions of Facebook users in Europe and the US, for political purposes, without their knowledge. In response, the EU instigated what would become the infamous ‘cookie law’. Its goal was to create more transparency about online data harvesting. Critics demand that the EU provide much more protection for it’s citizens. Even more controversially, the recent EU Copyright Directive tried to create rules for the use of copyrighted work online.Read more of the TECHNOLOGICAL aims of the EU here
ECONOMICA home for 6.9% of the world's population, the EU accounts for some 15.6% of the total global imports and exports. This strong economic position is only possible with all 28 states working together, formulating one single voice on the global stage. Largely a result of strategic trade and monetary policies, one of which was the introduction of the Euro in 1999. It’s objective was to reduce trade barriers, improve price stability and provide economic diplomacy, but has resulted created inequalities within the European Union. Since the 2009 debt crisis, opposite economic situations have emerged between Southern Europe and Central/Northern Europe with higher unemployment rates and public debt in the Mediterranean countries, and a lower unemployment rate with higher GDP growth rate in the Eastern and in Northern member countries. In difficult times, it’s an economy that can operate flexibly, lately it has opened to trade from the world's poorest countries. In doing so, it has seen developing countries take advantage of world markets, and more importantly, employers implementing regulations complying with EU social rights. This strategy sees policy contributing to the improvement of communities, who’s employees benefit from greater environmental, labour, and sustainable protection.
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