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Commission unveils its first Strategic Foresight Report

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Today, the European Commission adopted its first-ever Strategic Foresight Report, aiming to identify emerging challenges and opportunities to better steer the European Union’s strategic choices. Strategic foresight will inform major policy initiatives. It will support the Commission in designing future-proof policies and legislation that serves both the current needs and longer-term aspirations of European citizens. The 2020 Report presents the rationale for using foresight in EU policy-making, and introduces a comprehensive concept of EU resilience.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “In these challenging times, political leaders have to look wide and far ahead. This report shows the importance of resilience for a strong and lasting recovery. We aim to steer the necessary transitions in a sustainable, fair, and democratic manner.”

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of interinstitutional relations and foresight, said: “The pandemic has not only thrown a sharp light on our vulnerabilities, but has presented opportunities that the EU cannot afford to miss. It has also reaffirmed the need to make our policies evidence-based, future-proof and centred on resilience. We cannot expect the future to become less disruptive – new trends and shocks will continue to affect our lives. The first-ever Strategic Foresight Report therefore sets the scene for how we can make Europe more resilient – by boosting our open strategic autonomy and building a fairer, climate-neutral and digitally sovereign future.”

In light of the ambitious Recovery Plan for Europe, the 2020 Strategic Foresight Report considers EU resilience in four dimensions: social and economic, geopolitical, green, and digital. For each dimension, the report identifies the capacities, vulnerabilities and opportunities revealed by the coronavirus crisis, which need to be addressed in the medium- to long-term.

Embedding Strategic Foresight into EU Policy-making

Strategic Foresight helps improve policy design, develop future-proof strategies and ensure that short-term actions are coherent with long-term objectives. The Commission has relied on foresight for many years; it now aims to embed it into all policy areas, to exploit its strategic value. A first example is the recent Communication on Critical Raw Materials, with foresight helping boost the EU’s open strategic autonomy. Mainstreaming foresight will be achieved by:

  • systematically conducting foresight exercises for all major policy initiatives;
  • publishing forward-looking, annual Strategic Foresight reports, analysing emerging trends and challenges to inform our policy- and decision-making;
  • supporting the development of foresight capacities in EU and Member State administrations; and
  • building a collaborative and inclusive foresight community with EU and international institutions and partners.

Monitoring Resilience

The 2020 Strategic Foresight Report proposes prototype resilience dashboards to kick‑start discussions among Member States and other key stakeholders on how best to monitor resilience. These discussions can help identify and assess strengths and weaknesses at EU and Member State level, in view of emerging megatrends and anticipated challenges. It can help answer the following question: are we, through our policies and recovery strategy, making the EU more resilient?

Next Steps:

  • The 2020 Strategic Foresight Report and its successors will inform President von der Leyen’s annual State of the Union addresses and Commission Work Programmes. They will also feed into the forthcoming inter-institutional negotiations on our first-ever multiannual programming.
  • The overarching Strategic Foresight agenda will chart EU political priorities and key initiatives in Commission Work Programmes, as well as major cross-cutting issues: such as the EU’s open strategic autonomy for a new global order; the future potential of green jobs and required skills; and the intersections of the green and digital transitions across policies.
  • The annual European Strategy and Political Analysis System (ESPAS) conference  in November 2020 will offer the opportunity to discuss the topic of next year’s Strategic Foresight Report and launch an EU-wide Foresight Network.
  • The development of shared reference foresight scenarios to inform future policy debate, to ensure coherence across policies, and to serve as a shared, forward‑looking framework for policy proposals. This can also feed into the Conference on the Future of Europe.
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Uzbekistan’s Artel joins UN’s ‘Orange The World’ campaign against gender-based violence

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Artel Electronics LLC (Artel), Central Asia’s largest home appliance and electronics manufacturer, has teamed up with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on a public information campaign against gender-based violence.

The campaign is in line with the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which utilizes the color orange to symbolize a brighter future. Artel’s green branding turned orange for several days in advertising material throughout Uzbek capital Tashkent, and public figures made statements to raise awareness.

Artel joins an international movement that kicked off on 25th November and lasts for 16 days. Since 1991, it has been used by individuals and organizations to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

This is the second year the company has ‘gone orange’. Artel Electronics HR Director, Lazizbek Mamatov, also took part in a panel discussion about Gender Equality in the Workplace hosted by the UNFPA at Westminster International University in Tashkent in line with the campaign.

Shohruh Ruzikulov, CEO of Artel, said “It is a privilege to once more work with the UN in raising awareness about the issue of Gender Based Violence. In Uzbekistan, this conversation is at a relatively young stage. We are proud to stand against domestic violence and continue Artel’s work in all areas to contribute to a better society.”

Mr. Yu Yu, Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund, said “We are delighted to partner with a company like Artel on such an important issue. The public reach of the private sector is vital in ensuring our message to stand against domestic violence can be heard across all segments of society. We are grateful to Artel for taking leadership on this important issue in Uzbekistan. Together, we can make the change.”

The true rate of domestic violence in Uzbekistan is not known. However, the government alongside diplomatic partners and aid organizations are prioritizing the issue. In recent years the Presidential Administration has issued decrees targeted at domestic violence prevention, the government has adopted laws guaranteeing equal rights for women, and funding has been provided for information campaigns and rehabilitation centers.

Support for this campaign is just one of Artel’s initiatives to support women’s empowerment. Internally, the company has introduced whistle-blowing mechanisms, and is implementing an internal legal clinic to improve the legal literacy of employees. Over the last year, the proportion of women in the company’s 10,000 employees has risen by 5%, to 35%. The global average for the manufacturing industry is thought to be around 30%.

In 2021, Artel became a full participant of the UN Global Compact (UNGC), the world’s largest business community focused on sustainable development. In doing so, the company committed to promoting ten principles covering human rights, labor rights and environmental protection.

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Douglas Macgregor: ‘Russia will establish Victory on its own terms’

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The Biden administration repeatedly commits the unpardonable sin in a democratic society of refusing to tell the American people the truth: contrary to the Western media’s popular “Ukrainian victory” narrative, which blocks any information that contradicts it, Ukraine is not winning and will not win this war, notes in his new article Douglas Macgregor, Col. (ret.), who was the former advisor to the Secretary of Defense in the Trump administration.

Months of heavy Ukrainian casualties, resulting from an endless series of pointless attacks against Russian defenses in Southern Ukraine, have dangerously weakened Ukrainian forces.

Predictably, NATO’s European members, which bear the brunt of the war’s impact on their societies and economies, are growing more disenchanted with Washington’s Ukrainian proxy war.

European populations are openly questioning the veracity of claims in the press about the Russian state and American aims in Europe.

The influx of millions of refugees from Ukraine, along with a combination of trade disputes, profiteering from U.S. arms sales, and high energy prices risks turning European public opinion against both Washington’s war and NATO.

After concluding that the underpinning assumptions regarding Washington’s readiness to negotiate and compromise were invalid, Putin directed the STAVKA to develop new operational plans with new goals:

– first, to crush the Ukrainian enemy;

– second, to remove any doubt in Washington and European capitаls that Russia will establish Victory on its own terms;

– and, third, to create a new territorial Status Quo commensurate with Russia’s national security needs.

It is now possible to project that the new Russian armed forces that will evolve from the crucible of war in Ukraine will be designed to execute strategically decisive operations.

The new military establishment will consist of much larger forces-in-being that can conduct decisive operations on relatively short notice with minimal reinforcement and preparation.

Put differently, by the time the conflict ends, it appears Washington will have prompted the Russian State to build up its military power, the very opposite of the fatal weakening that Washington intended when it embarked on its course of military confrontation with Moscow.

Biden’s “take no prisoners” conduct of U.S. foreign policy means the outcome of the next phase of the Ukrainian War will not only destroy the Ukrainian state. It will also demolish the last vestiges of the postwar liberal order and produce a dramatic shift in power and influence across Europe, especially in Berlin, away from Washington to Moscow and, to a limited extent, to Beijing, writes Douglas Macgregor.

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Politicians and journalists targeted by spyware to testify at Council of Europe parliamentary hearing in Paris

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Politicians and journalists from Poland, Spain and Greece who have been targeted by the Pegasus or similar spyware are to give testimony at a public hearing of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Paris on 12 December 2022, to be live-streamed in English.

The hearing, organised by PACE’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, will focus on the role played by spyware in secret state surveillance, as part of a report on this topic being prepared for the Assembly by Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands, EPP/CD).

Participants include:

  • Krzysztof Brejza, a member of the Polish Sejm from the opposition Civic Platform party, and a former member of PACE (accompanied by his lawyer, Dorota Brejza).
  • Diana Riba, a Spanish member of the European Parliament from Catalonia’s Republican Left Party, and Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s committee of inquiry which is also currently investigating the use of Pegasus and similar spyware.
  • Thanasis Koukakis, an investigative journalist from Greece specialising in financial affairs, who has reported on corruption and money laundering (via teleconference).

In two earlier hearings, the committee heard from journalists who first revealed the spyware surveillance, as well as data protection and legal experts, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In an April 2022 introductory memorandum, Mr Omtzigt listed the different Council of Europe member states where it is alleged Pegasus has been used, those individuals targeted, and the different national inquiries into its use that have been launched, as well as international reaction so far.

He concluded that the use of this software had “serious implications” for the human rights of those targeted, and questioned whether its use on journalists, lawyers, politicians and human rights activists could be justified on national security grounds or to investigate crime.

Mr Omtzigt’s final report is due for possible plenary debate by PACE in June 2023. The Assembly, which brings together 306 parliamentarians from the 46 member states of the Council of Europe, has powers to investigate human rights abuses in member states and make recommendations to Council of Europe governments.

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