The second half of 2017 is already looking packed: from the State of European Union debate to the LUX Prize and Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the migration crisis, climate change, work-life balance, posted workers and digital cookies.
It's time to look back at what's been done and figure out how best to move forward: the second half of 2017 begins with the highly anticipated State of the European Union debate. Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will set out the EU's priorities, highlighting some of the biggest challenges facing Europe... ...one of which is the ongoing migration crisis. With more than a million people reaching Europe's shores, countries on the frontline are struggling to cope. Under the current so-called Dublin regulation, asylum seekers are sent back to the EU country they first set foot in. An overhaul is urgently needed... ...as are new rules to offset deforestation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Parliament also wants to cut the number of carbon credits companies can buy and support low-carbon innovation. Where innovation is also needed is in promoting work-life balance. Paternity leave, parental leave, carer's leave, flexible working hours: these are some proposals MEPs will be focusing on to improve the rights of working parents. The rights of posted workers are also in the spotlight. How can their rights and working conditions be protected? How long should assignments last? How can we avoid social dumping? A reform of the controversial rules is in the pipeline. While some areas require reform, others need new ones to catch up with fast-changing digital times. Cookies, for example, track our online activities. A new e-privacy regulation should change the way our online data is protected, and make it easier to accept or refuse pop-up windows. And finally, the year's end will be marked by accolades. MEPs will vote and award the 11th LUX Prize to the best European film. Another award: the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to celebrate human rights activists, like these two Yazidi victims of IS. They were last year's recipients.