The thoughts that count - the best of global thought leadership (April 2023)

Public services & public policy

Re-Engineering Regulation – Policy Exchange (UK)

“Policy Exchange’s Blueprint for Reform set out the strategic vision for regulatory reform, based on greater parliamentary scrutiny, a rebalancing of competing regulatory objectives, improved direction from government and continuous improvement and feedback. This paper draws attention to how urgently these reforms are needed… Regulatory reform often constitutes the “slow boring of hard boards”. But it is work that we can no longer afford to put off as a country. As this report makes abundantly clear, the time for concerted action is now.”

‘Shrinking Whitehall’: Radically modernising a cumbersome state Adam Smith Institute (UK)

This report examines Whitehall statistics and outlines key areas for reform, finding that the civil service is in dire need of reform, and in its current state hinders government efficiency.

Mission-led procurement: Early insights from exploratory work in Camden UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (UK)

Since the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, there has been growing interest in procurement as a strategic lever. This report by IIPP and Camden Council seeks to answer the question, ‘How can public sector procurement support mission-oriented organisations?’ This builds on the work by the council and its four missions as a core part of its We Make Camden strategy.

The Comeback of the European Commission Carnegie Europe (Europe)

Carnegie Europe notes that years of crisis management in Europe have allowed the European Commission to stage a comeback, becoming the dominant EU institution at the expense of the European Parliament. The bloc’s executive arm is now the ‘most plausible source of leadership in an ever more complex and heterogeneous EU’.

The government needs to rethink its approach to public services strikes Institute for Government (UK)

Initial optimism over a quick resolution to public sector strikes has faded, and industrial action shows no signs of abating. The IfG concludes that the Government’s approach so far is not working, and that ministers should reconsider higher pay deals, as well as getting on the front foot with junior doctors by engaging more fully with the BMA, their lead union.

Managing it better: Can leadership and management improve public service performance? Social Market Foundation (UK)

The UK public sector has performed poorly relative to comparators for a long time – overall public sector productivity has grown just 4% in two decades. This report sets out some key ways in which existing literature suggests leadership and management in the public sector can play an important role in bringing about improvements in public services.

The Preventative State: Rebuilding our local, social and civic foundations Demos (UK)

This essay calls for a state which is ‘more expansive’ in reforming public services, seeking to prevent problems from arising to ease demand for and pressure on public services, and to invest in foundational goods and social capital to enable citizens to lead better lives.

Future Opportunities Report 2023: The Global 50 Dubai Future Foundation (UAE)

This extensive report provides a framework to encourage thoughtful reflection about the policy solutions of the future across five themes: health, collaboration, nature, societies empowered, and transformation.

Levelling up & devolution

Net Zero to Level Up: Securing a just transition for the Black Country 2023-2032 – Demos (UK)

In the transition to a net zero economy, each region of the UK will face different opportunities and challenges – this report focuses on those specific to the individuals and businesses of the Black Country, finding that, without additional intervention, up to 20% of the Black Country’s manufacturing workforce could become long-term unemployed by 2032. The report therefore makes recommendations on how the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) can use some of the additional devolved powers granted to it by the 2023 Spring Budget to achieve a just transition in the Black Country, with the possibility of up to 20,000 new net zero jobs in the region by 2032.

Devolving English government Institute for Government (UK) and Bennett Institute for Public Policy (UK)

England, with its population of 55 million, is one of only two large countries in the OECD to have such a centralised system of government. This report sets out recommendations to improve local government in England and make English devolution succeed. Measures include: the creation of a new Office for England as a government department, complete with a responsible Secretary of State in the Cabinet; the establishment of an ‘English Devolution Council’ to give metro mayors a strong voice in UK politics; new legislation to codify the rights and responsibilities of local government; and cross-party commitments to ‘meaningful devolution’ in all parts of England by 2030.

What are the Prospects for ‘Levelling Up’? NIESR (UK)

This NIESR blog post examines whether the UK’s regions outside London and the South East will catch up to these wealthy areas using a new regional model, which assesses the economic evolution of the three devolved nations and the regions of England.

Why is local government such a mess? UK in a Changing Europe (UK)

UKICE notes that, with local elections approaching, there is little focus on what these elections mean for the areas that are holding votes. This, UKICE argues, is due to piecemeal, incoherent local government reforms stretching back to the 1970s, and the confusing patchwork of local authorities in the UK which leaves many Britons confused as to which authority should be held accountable for which public service, leading to low turnout at local elections (stagnating at 30%). With levelling up having brought national attention to the powers of local regions, this article makes the case for local governance to be part of the discourse.

The hydrogen powerhouse?: Demystifying the North's hydrogen economy – IPPR (UK)

Hydrogen fuel is touted not only as a highly promising technological innovation which will greatly expedite the transition to net zero, but as a key plank of future economic and industrial growth which will help level up the North of England. This report examines the true potential of the British hydrogen economy, examines the role of hydrogen in the net zero transition, and evaluates the current state of play of hydrogen development in the North.

Could a UK manufacturing revival be a path to inclusive growth? Centre for Progressive Policy (UK)

The UK’s economic geography resembles that of a much poorer country, with some of the worst regional inequalities in the developed world – and these are worsening, even as living standards have barely improved in real terms since 2008. Successive governments have recognised this problem, from Theresa May’s Modern Industrial Strategy of 2017 to Boris Johnson’s 2019 levelling up agenda. CPP suggests that a revival of manufacturing could help reverse this trend, with economic activity and well-paid jobs concentrated in towns and rural areas, helping to support income growth in regions outside cities which have not benefited from the growth in the services industry and in office-based jobs.

Economy, inflation & the cost of living

Playing by the fiscal rules New Economics Foundation (UK)

This analysis of the UK Treasury’s fiscal rules finds that they lack teeth, in that they can be arbitrarily changed by the Chancellor; they fail to reflect uncertainty; and they have a lack of symmetry, preventing governments from investing part of their war chest to guard against future uncertainty or turmoil. The solution, NEF argues, may be to deprive the Treasury of the power to set fiscal targets, giving this instead to someone else, such as a fiscal council at the OBR. This would oblige the Chancellor to make best efforts to keep government borrowing within agreed-upon limits, and to justify failure to do so in Parliament at budget speeches.

Balance of trade, balance of power CATO Institute (USA)

This report argues that the US trade deficit is too often erroneously presented as a sign of weakness. The authors maintain that the trade deficit is actually a symbol of US soft power and is driven by a persistent net inflow of capital, which reduces interest rates and fuels economic output. Policymakers should not combat trade with protectionist measures but rather embrace America’s commercial influence on the global stage.

Cutting the cuts – Resolution Foundation (UK)

The Resolution Foundation finds that weak and inconsistent public investment has contributed to the UK becoming a low-investment nation. Much of this has stemmed from a tendency by governments past to cut public investment when state finances are under strain – most recently, despite the Government having raised investment after the 2019 election to levels not sustained since the 1970s, public investment was then drastically cut in the wake of Liz Truss’ mini-Budget in the autumn of 2022, reversing over 80% of the gains that had been planned. This report sets out why policy in the domain of public investment has failed in the past, and how this can be reformed in future.

Deconstructing the fair tax Brookings Institution (USA)

In this report, the authors examine Kevin McCarthy’s plans to vote on a proposed ‘fair tax’ bill (H.R. 25). The “Fair Tax would replace federal personal income, corporate income, payroll, and estate and gift taxes with a national retail sales tax”. This report concludes that this proposal is unrealistic and would not raise sufficient revenue for the federal government.

Canada’s Fiscal Policy Has Undermined Efforts to Tackle Inflation Fraser Institute (Canada)

This paper finds that higher government spending and borrowing by the Canadian Government since the Covid-19 pandemic began have helped fuel inflation, and that monetary and fiscal policy will both need to be deployed to contain it. It calls upon Ottawa to reverse the trend of growth in public spending and deficits which has accelerated since 2019, and for Canada’s fiscal policy to be aligned with monetary policy.

Britain’s economically damaging tax system is now indefensible Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

IFS Director Paul Johnson remembers the recently deceased Nigel Lawson, and the tax reforms he announced in 1988 as Chancellor – these included abolishing all rates of income tax above 40% (going up to 60% for higher earners), cutting the basic rate of income tax from 27% to 25%, and reforming capital gains tax. These vastly simplified Britain’s tax system, but also boosted the incomes of higher earners and cemented levels of income inequality which had grown so rapidly during the 1980s. However, he argues that the British tax system is now nevertheless in dire need of reform – stealth tax rises mean that eventually, one in seven British adults will be subject to the 40% tax rate or higher.

The longer-term fiscal challenges facing the European Union Bruegel (Europe)

“The pandemic and subsequent price shocks triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have increased longer-term fiscal pressures in the European Union through higher debt, higher expected real interest rates and higher public investment needs. This Policy Brief makes some simple quantitative assessments of those effects and discusses policy implications, with the following results.”

Inequality on Steroids – Australia Institute (Australia)

This report is summarised as follows. ‘Since the global financial crisis there has been a fundamental change in the operation of the Australian economy. Since World War Two, the majority of the benefits of economic growth have flowed to the bottom 90 per cent of income earners. However, as shown in Figure 1, between 2009 and 2019 the top 10 per cent got almost all of the gains of the latest recovery: that group secured 93 per cent of the income growth in that period.’

The National Energy Guarantee New Economics Foundation (UK)

NEF proposes a ‘National Energy Guarantee’ to deliver on household energy needs and provides protection, stability and equitability for consumers in an environmentally conscious way. This, the think tank argues, would deliver a highly progressive system of support – 80% of households would benefit, with the poorest 30% of the population seeing the largest gains on average.

Lessons from the inflation of 2021-202(?) Economic Policy Institute (USA)

This report highlights how analysis based on aggregate demand and supply is inadequate to explain the significant inflationary pressures affecting the American economy currently. The authors argue that a ‘shocks and ripples’ approach, rooted in the recognition of the pivotal impact of exogenous shocks on the economy, is better suited to understand the causes and trajectory of inflation in the US.

Supercharge New Zealand with Supply-Side Reforms – NZ Initiative (New Zealand)

This article asserts that the key to stabilising the New Zealand economy is to bolster the supply side of the economy, as well as reining in demand. This will involve opening the nation’s doors to foreign direct investment, decluttering bureaucracy, and embracing immigration.

Central Bank Forays Into Unconventional Monetary Policies: Explanation, Assessment, and Implications Fraser Institute (Canada)

The Fraser Institute suggests that there may be a rethink needed concerning the primary role and responsibility of central banks, as well as the monetary policy strategies which may be deployed by central banks.

Back in Black? A menu of measures to repair the budget – Grattan Institute (Australia)

This report asserts that the Federal Government needs to cut spending and raise taxes to rein in Australia’s structural budget deficit.

Employment, labour force & pensions

Low Pay Britain 2023 – Resolution Foundation (UK)

The Resolution Foundation argues that good work must be at the heart of a new economic strategy for Britain. Good work must prioritise the wellbeing of workers, leaving them with higher job satisfaction, adequate sick pay and better financial and physical health. This must be seen as part of the UK’s strategy to achieve wider economic policy objectives.

Challenges for the UK pension system: the case for a pensions review – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

“This report makes the case for a new review of the pension system in the UK. There are a number of key challenges facing future generations of pensioners that threaten their living standards in retirement and which, without policy action, mean many are likely to face substantial financial difficulties in older age. This is the first report of a multi-year project that will produce the highest-quality evidence regarding the future of financial security in retirement.”

Gulf Women in the Workforce Gulf Research Center (Saudi Arabia)

The Gulf Cooperation Council is advancing gender equality and female empowerment in the workforce through national reforms and initiatives. This accessible report discusses these labour reforms across the region and discusses plans for the future.  

Five ways the modern workplace is changing – Chatham House (UK)

This piece summarises five key insights from Chatham House’s recent Future of Work 2023 conference, these being: flexible working is here to stay, and is seen as a right rather than a perk; the four-day work week benefits employees and employers; all jobs will be powered by digital; inclusive labour markets are key to healthy societies; and developing AI in a strictly market-driven way harms workers.

Labour Market Outlook Q1 2023 Resolution Foundation (UK)

Commentary on the UK labour market has been dominated by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and the bleak economic forecast, with the Bank of England and the OBR both predicting a recession. This Labour Market Outlook, however, focuses on the longer-term issue of declining workplace training, and the impact of this on low-paid workers.

White paper on employment: Submission to Treasury – Centre for Policy Development (Australia)

This white paper identifies early childhood, just transition (to a zero-carbon economy) and encouraging regional and community job deals as the three major opportunities to advance full employment and build a bigger, better trained, and more productive Australian workforce.

Health & social care

Waiting for prosperity: Modelling the economic benefits of reducing elective waiting lists in the NHS  IPPR (UK)

The IPPR makes the economic case for reducing the waiting list for elective care, estimating that meeting targets set by the Elective Recovery Plan would deliver an increase in production worth £73m over five years. The report, however, suggests that delivering a 30% increase in elective health treatment will be a challenging task requiring further policy intervention.

The rise and decline of the NHS in England 2000–20 The King's Fund (UK)

The NHS’ performance improved significantly between 2000 and 2010 thanks to major reforms and large funding increases, but performance has deteriorated since 2010 due to smaller funding increases, limited funding for capital investment, and lack of workforce planning, this report argues. This paper sets out what must be done now to reform the NHS, focusing on spending decisions, moderating demand and sharing responsibility with patients and the public.

Reform analysis: The Hewitt Review – Reform (UK)

Reform dives into the recently published review by former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt of integrated care systems (ICSs), which since July 2022 have been the principal organisations responsible for planning and commissioning health services in England. Hewitt’s review focuses on: how ICSs can shift away from treating illness and towards health creation; how to get the governance structure right so that ICSs can work as ‘systems’; how health and care delivery must be transformed to enable integration; and how our approach to health payment can underpin a new model of care.

Standing back from The Hewitt Review: six key take-aways The King's Fund (UK)

The King’s Fund summarises six key takeaways from the much-anticipated Hewitt review of integrated care systems (ICSs). It finds that: the central premise is to shift away from top-down performance management and towards learning and improvement; the review calls for a reset in national/local relationships; local variation will remain central to ICS development and ways of working; a commitment to prevention is at the heart of the review; the review stops short of giving firm answers on the respective roles and responsibilities of providers and ICBs; and the impact of the proposals is by no means certain.

Five principles for implementing the NHS Impact approach to improvement in England The Health Foundation (UK)

The Health Foundation analyses the recent NHS Impact approach to improvement of the NHS in England, how it takes an aligned and integrated approach o improvement delivery and capability-building, and how, if carefully implemented, it could help to tackle some of the health service’s most entrenched challenges.

Restoring public confidence in the NHS will be no easy feat Nuffield Trust (UK)

In the wake of data showing public satisfaction with health and care services in the UK has fallen to record lows, leading psephologist Sir John Curtice analyses these results and their electoral implications for policymakers. He notes that nine in 10 Britons still support the principle that the NHS should be ‘free of charge when you need to use it’, but that meeting this expectation when finances and labour markets are tight will be difficult, and as such it will be difficult to restore voters’ confidence in the health service.

Funding changes signal an end to the government’s ambitious social care reform package – Institute for Government (UK)

The UK Government’s announcement of how it intends to spend £2bn of previously announced funding for social care suggests it has dropped many previous commitments to the sector – for instance, £250m for a range of workforce initiatives represents a 50% cut compared to its white paper pledge of £500m. Moreover, there was no mention of the £300m promised to ‘integrate housing into local health and care strategies’, likely meaning this pledge has also been abandoned. This, the IfG warns, will come at a cost, with the social care sector currently experiencing a severe labour shortage.

Reform of adult social care: vanishing over the horizon The King's Fund (UK)

Plans to reform social care in the UK have stalled in recent months, with the planned lifetime cap on social care payments and changes to the means test having been postponed until October 2025 – with a general election due before then, there is a significant danger the reforms are never implemented.

Tackling obesity Institute for Government (UK)

The UK is now Europe’s third most obese country, behind only Malta and Turkey – one in three British adults is now considered obese, up from one in 10 in 1970. Despite there being strong public support for ambitious measures, every British Government since 1992 has missed targets to reduce obesity, with current rates harming people’s health and life opportunities, burdening the NHS, and damaging the economy – obesity costs the health service an estimated £6.5bn every year, and wider societal costs are estimated to amount to 1-2% of GDP.

Covid-19

Lifting the Lid: A critical analysis of the Covid-19 pandemic management in New Zealand – NZ Initiative (New Zealand)

In this report on New Zealand’s response and management of the Covid pandemic, the New Zealand Initiative concludes that the initial strategy was fine, but execution lacked adaptability and agility. Additionally, the implementation of this strategy was poor because it was politicised.

Education & childcare

How does school spending per pupil differ across the UK? – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

This IFS report investigates how school spending per pupil varies across the UK’s four nations, finding that although school spending per pupil fell after 2010 across all four nations, from an 8% real-terms decline in England compared to 5% in Wales, spending levels have largely recovered to what they were in 2010 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while in Scotland increases in school spending since 2014 have more than offset the cuts in the immediate post-2010 years.

Save Our Schools: Solutions for New Zealand’s education crisis – NZ Initiative (New Zealand)

This manifesto makes a number of policy recommendations to return the nation’s education system to a place of international pre-eminence. Some of the most significant proposals in the report include: introducing a new, knowledge-rich curriculum centred on literacy, numeracy, and disciplinary subjects, and redesigning the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) to encourage more coherent teaching and reduce superficial learning.

Leave Them Kids Alone: The Next Steps on Childcare Reform Adam Smith Institute (UK)

This policy briefing by the Adam Smith Institute makes several suggestions for childcare reform, including: ending the £100,000 cliff edge; easing informal childcare arrangements; tax credits for work-based creches; frontloading universal credit payments; restructuring the Free Early Education Entitlement Scheme; and increased training and subsidies for qualifications.

Righting the education ship: Learning from the powerful lessons of the pandemic Macdonald-Laurier Institute (Canada)

This MLI comment piece examines the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Canadian education system, finding that school closures had significant educational effects. Many students in Ontario suffered academic and social development setbacks, systems have yet to recover, and hidden costs are growing more and more visible in the form of student learning loss, mental health challenges, absenteeism, social media obsession and more. The priority, says the piece, should be closing the learning gap.

Defence & national security

Ukrainian counteroffensive assessment Hudson Institute (USA)

A military situational report on the war in Ukraine, this article examines the need for a Ukrainian counteroffensive and analyses various tactical elements, taking into account land and air forces.

Implications of the Ukraine War for UK Munitions Supply Arrangements Royal United Services Institute (UK)

“The situation in Ukraine has demonstrated the difficulty of balancing munitions requirements in peacetime with the need for large stocks and to surge production when conflict erupts. How the UK can best manage this equation in the future is unresolved but will likely involve extra costs.”

Buying weapons together (or not) European Union Institute for Security Studies (Europe)

Having supplied large amounts of weaponry to Ukraine in its war against Russia, European governments must work not only to supply Kyiv but also to replenish their own stocks and acquire new weapons and equipment in Europe’s largest rearmament effort since the 1950s. This brief suggests that EU member states are in fact collaborating to a far greater extent than is commonly known in acquiring arms and equipment, and that by focusing more on desired output and pragmatic collaboration, the EU may be better able to collaborate on defence procurement in areas where it would make the most sense to. 

Truth decay and national security RAND Corporation (USA)

The authors of this piece explore how truth decay — the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life — affects US national security, what should be done about it, and what future research on this topic should focus on. They highlight research gaps in this field, identify pathways to further discuss and explore in this overlap area, and encourage a shared foundation and framework for future research.

Finland brings great value to NATO's future deterrence – Chatham House (UK)

This Chatham House article summarises why Finland’s accession to the Western alliance is highly significant – the Nordic nation brings with in a larger force of main battle tanks more modern than those of the British Army, orders for fifth-generation F-35 aircraft which exceed those of the UK, and an army which when mobilised is over twice as big as the British Army. However, Helsinki’s membership also changes the enlargement narrative and has redefined NATO enlargement, recasting the alliance in a different light as one centred around defence, not to mention a recalibration of historically neutral states’ foreign policies.

Advancing military mobility in Europe: An uphill battle European Policy Centre (Europe)

Since the war in Ukraine began, military mobility has become one of the most pressing issues facing the EU and NATO, with the return of traditional warfare and territorial defence. This EPC paper explores the actions taken by Brussels to develop military mobility in recent years, analyses current EU objectives and challenges, and makes recommendations on how military mobility can be improved in Europe.

Evaluating the National Cyber Force’s ‘Responsible Cyber Power in Practice’ Royal United Services Institute (UK)

Six RUSI experts react to the National Cyber Force’s new document outlining Britain’s approach to cyber operations. The document is ‘a significant step forward in advancing transparency and engagement on national approaches to cyber operations’.

Great power competition and conflict in the 21st century outside the Indo-Pacific and Europe RAND Corporation (USA)

China and Russia have been the foreign policy priorities of the last three American administrations. However, great power conflict historically takes place outside the theatres of core concern. This report explores where and how the US, China, and Russia may be competing for influence in these secondary theatres (Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America); where and why competition might turn into conflict; what form that conflict might take.

Protecting Europe's critical infrastructure from Russian hybrid threats – Centre for European Reform (Europe)

Hybrid tactics are used to destabilise opponents in warfare by attacking political, economic and social targets rather than engaging in standard warfare. Brussels has grown increasingly concerned about Moscow’s use of hybrid attacks since the invasion of Ukraine, and in particular the threat these attacks pose to critical infrastructure. The EU and NATO have responded by stepping up efforts to counter hybrid threats and protect critical infrastructure – this paper suggests that they can further increase cooperation through expanding intelligence-sharing and joint training, as well as taking inspiration from Finland and Sweden’s ‘whole-of-society’ approaches to increase resilience against hybrid threats.

The Defence Financial Audit: Why it Matters American Enterprise Institute (USA)

Auditing the Defence Department Full Financial statement is required by law.  But how can we go beyond a cursory view and better understand the real value of the audit journey in providing accurate, timely data? This AEI report explains why the audit matters and makes it more relatable by describing its value beyond the technical talk of financial statements, balance sheets, and the fund balance with Treasury.

Tech, digital & AI

The needed executive actions to address the challenges of artificial intelligence Centre for American Progress (USA)

The rapid development and increasing sophistication of AI has revolutionised the tech community. However, policymakers still lag in understanding, and especially ringfencing through regulation, the vast potential of AI. This report argues that President Biden should act swiftly through several means, including executive orders, a blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights, and dedicated White House fora, to cement our understanding of AI.

Recalibrating assumptions on AI – Chatham House (UK)

This paper seeks to disabuse policymakers of assumptions that AI is ‘intelligent’ and ‘ethical’, that more data means better AI and that AI development is a ‘race’. Chatham House instead calls for a more evidence-based, inclusive discourse to improve AI policy outcomes.

AI and Our Elections: Might tech trump democracy? – Maxim Institute (New Zealand)

This article discusses the use of AI and digital nudging in election campaign. It asserts that, with a NZ general election imminent, some serious thinking is needed regarding the effects of digital manipulation so to protect the nation’s democracy.

Advancing cooperative AI governance at the 2023 G7 Summit Centre for Strategic and International Studies (USA)

Alongside the potential to change the way societies learn, work, and innovate for the better, AI’s widespread adoption raises numerous questions around rights and privacy. Acting as an agenda-setter for the global economy, the G7 can provide a forum to encourage the development and adoption of internationally accepted AI standards and to align on key principles to facilitate their adoption in regulatory frameworks. This report explores what the G7 can do in terms of norms, definitions, and collaboration.

Understanding Progress in a changing society – Bennett Institute for Public Policy (UK)

This report explores the potential of digital technologies and how these could make a fundamental difference to how people live their lives. It focuses on transport and FinTech, domains which have undergone significant recent change in provision and business models, but not to the benefit of all. The paper calls for three broad themes to be addressed: data generation, access and use; the wedge between private and social value; and geographic distribution.

Transport

Public transport fit for the climate emergency – Trades Union Congress (UK)

This TUC report makes a case for a robust public transport system, to aid the UK’s transition to net zero emissions and allow Britons easy access to good work across the country. Any public transport system fit for the climate emergency must mean more services, new routes, cheaper fares and modern fleets of low-emission vehicles.

On the way to electromobility - a green(er) but more unequal future? European Trade Union Institute (Europe)

“As it becomes clearer and clearer that none of the 14 million jobs in the broad automobile industry will remain unaffected by the transition to e-mobility, less attention has been paid to what would happen if Europe’s car industry failed to keep pace with the global competition in fast-evolving zero emission technologies. A new book from ETUI reveals that further employment risks and growing inequalities may appear if European manufacturers continue to abandon the lower market segments of electric vehicles and leave these to foreign competitors.”

Immigration

The Illegal Migration Bill UK in a Changing Europe (UK)

In an explainer published prior to the Illegal Migration Bill’s report stage and third reading in the House of Commons on 26 April 2023, UKICE experts set out what the Bill sets out to do, recent amendments to the legislation, how it would work and whether it would breach Britain’s obligations under international law. 

Funding the EU’s external migration policy: ‘Same old’ or potential for sustainable collaboration? – European Policy Centre (Europe)

This paper examines changes in the EU funding landscape in relation to migration policy, and makes suggestions on how to maximise the benefits of cooperation. It looks specifically at the funding dimension of Talent Partnerships, the EU’s latest initiative to support legal migration, and the inherent contradictions therein.

‘Stop the Boats’: The Rwanda Policy and Global Britain Royal United Services Institute (UK)

RUSI argues that the UK Government’s policy of stopping migrants from crossing the Channel and deporting those who do to Rwanda is ‘questionable’ and may do harm to the UK’s international reputation. The think tank argues that the Rwanda policy, in particular, overlooks Britain’s international obligations and risks facilitating human rights abuses against asylum seekers.

The way forward for EU migration and asylum policy – Chatham House (UK)

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War Two, but the solidarity and swift protection offered Ukrainian refugees was very different from the treatment of non-European migrants and refugees. Will the Ukrainian refugee crisis affect European Union (EU) sentiments on this issue in the longer term? What lessons can be learned in terms of EU capacity to respond to and accommodate large numbers of arrivals?”

Energy & net zero

The UK's Net Zero strategy risks entrenching inequality New Economics Foundation (UK)

This article criticises the UK Government’s net zero strategy, arguing there is ‘very little new policy and no additional funding’. The Government must, NEF contends, more proactively communicate the scale of the challenge and the opportunity to Britons, as local communities’ veto on net zero plans can very effectively stymie the ongoing green transition. NEF further argues that Britain must not lock in reliance on fossil fuels for decades by relying on carbon capture technology, but by accelerating the adoption of renewable energy.

The Gulf Cooperation Council’s Hydrogen Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities Emirates Policy Council (UAE)

This article notes how green hydrogen will become vital in a carbon-free future, and the Gulf Cooperation Council is well-positioned to enter the market due to its plentiful solar energy. However, water scarcity is a challenge, as green hydrogen production requires significant volumes of water for electrolysis. The report concludes that there is some time to go before states in the Gulf become hubs for green hydrogen production.

Impact of climate change and climate policies on living conditions, working conditions, employment and social dialogue – Eurofound (Europe)

“This paper presents an analytical summary of current academic and policy literature on the impact of climate change and policies to manage the transition to a carbon-neutral economy on four key domains: employment, working conditions, social dialogue and living conditions.”

Europe’s pursuit of securing critical raw materials for the green transition – Chatham House (UK)

The UK and the EU released updated strategy documents on critical raw materials within days of one another, aiming to ensure the sustainable supply of critical raw materials vital to the digital economy and to the net zero transition. The EU’s policy document in particular aims to achieve a high degree of self-sufficiency by 2030. These are London and Brussels’ responses to recently announced industrial policies from the US and China which are endangering the green transition in Britain and Europe.

Why Europe’s critical raw materials strategy has to be international Bruegel (Europe)

The war in Ukraine has exposed the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels, and European policymakers now question, in the race to secure critical raw materials (CRMs) for the net zero transition, whether they risk creating new dependencies on similar authoritarian states, rather than weaning themselves off geopolitical risk. Bruegel, however, argues that an international approach will be needed in securing CRMs for Europe, in that the supply of CRMs going into Europe must be diversified so that the bloc is not overly dependent on CRM supplies concentrated in a small group of countries.

CO2 Emissions Reduction Progress and Future Perspectives in AviationKAPSARC (Saudi Arabia)

CO2 emissions from aviation are a priority for policymakers, researchers, entities, and governments worldwide. The recent increase in environmental awareness worldwide has modified previous motorized-orientated approaches to be more energy efficient by investigating how the system is designed rather than considering the provision of infrastructure.

Will the EU's reform of retail electricity markets help consumers? Centre for European Reform (Europe)

“Retail energy markets in Europe have performed poorly during the recent crisis. The Commission’s proposed reforms are a step forward, but they should do more to empower consumers and protect the vulnerable.”

The end of greenwashing?: Driving decarbonisation in the real economy  IPPR (UK)

“In this paper, we set out how the state and private firms can work together to ensure transition plans are a tool for reducing emissions in the real economy - using the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) as a gold-standard practice.”

ESG

The Impracticality of Standardizing ESG Reporting (ESG: Myths and Realities) – Fraser Institute (Canada)

The Fraser Institute argues that “mandating a uniform set of ESG reporting standards across all public companies would be extremely costly because of the difficulties defining ESG materiality and the scope of ESG standards, measuring and aggregating ESG information, and enforcing ESG standards.”

Mobilising transition finance will require credible corporate climate plans Bruegel (Europe)

Many countries and jurisdictions now require companies to demonstrate ‘climate alignment’. Many have in place sustainable finance regulations, such as classifications of which economic activities count as ‘green’, which seek to encourage funding for zero-carbon activities and technologies. Transition finance, meaning financing for emission reductions and low-carbon technologies where no purely green solutions are readily available, has also grown in importance in financial markets. Transition plans are likely to also become important in corporate strategy, and to investors seeking clarity on companies’ emission reduction targets – as such they will need to be backed up by corporate governance and transparency rules.

 

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