Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition! I already did.
It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Energy in EU

Third-option on energy liberasation

The Commission and the Portuguese Presidency have asked EU countries opposed to proposals on 'ownership unbundling' in the electricity and gas sector to come up with detailed alternatives, as energy ministers prepare for a potentially tense meeting on 3 December.

In proposals unveiled on 19 September, the Commission left member states with two options to complete the liberalisation of the EU gas and electricity sector:

  • Forcing big energy firms to sell off their power transmission and gas storage assets in order to keep these activities fully separate from energy production ('Ownership unbundling'); or;

  • allowing firms to maintain ownership of their transmission assets but leave their management to an Independent System Operator (ISO) responsible for taking investment and commercial decisions.

The Commission has already made it clear that 'ownership unbundling' is its preferred option, saying such a drastic measure is necessary to guarantee non-discriminatory access to energy grids for smaller firms wishing to compete in markets dominated by vertically integrated energy giants, such as EDF in France and E.ON in Germany.
It conceded that the ISO option was a fallback but that it would essentially achieve similar results by imposing tougher regulation.

The Portuguese Presidency has prepared a progress report for the Energy Council next week, outlining member states' views on Commission proposals to further liberalise energy markets.
The report confirms a widespread opinion among member states whose energy sectors are not yet fully liberalised that the Commission's proposals are not satisfactory because they would interfere with the property rights of large integrated energy firms.
The group – led by France and Germany and which also includes Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg and Slovakia - argues that neither of the Commission's two options is attractive enough to garner their support.
"The Commission has to agree to review its position".
Economic ministers from the nine reluctant countries had already sent a joint letter to the Commission on 30 July, saying that "the idea of the complete separation of production and distribution as the only key to the development of the internal energy market for electricity and gas should be avoided."
Chief among the supporters of unbundling are the UK and the Netherlands. They are supported by Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, Romania and Sweden. Still undecided are Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lituania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic and Slovenia, the upcoming holder of the EU presidency.
A third option, called "regulated unbundling", was already presented at the March European Summit in Brussels. The system would involve an independent regulator setting prices for access to energy grids and reviewing investment decisions.

My comment: Personally, I don't understand the idea of the liberasation. I mean, it's great to kill the cartels, but still, isn't it kind of weird to make a company that has excelled in one field to have to break on two, or sell part of its business? For me, it is. So I hope they'll come up with something better.

Nuclear energy forum launched in Bratislava

The European nuclear energy forum (ENEF) was launched this week, offering a platform for politicians, industry groups and citizens' organisations to debate the risks and opportunities of atomic power.

The idea of establishing ENEF was proposed jointly by Slovakia and the Czech Republic and endorsed by heads of state and governments at an EU Summit in March 2007. The forum is scheduled to meet twice a year, in Prague and Bratislava.
The European Commission has recently multiplied positive statements about nuclear, with President Barroso recently calling for a "full and frank" debate on the issue as part of EU commitments to reduce CO2 emissions (EurActiv 3/10/07).
But atomic power remains extremely controversial in countries such as Austria and Germany, where a large part of the population is fiercely opposed to the technology.

According to its initiators, the forum is aimed at fostering an open debate about nuclear power in light of current energy challenges – increasing dependency on third countries, insufficient volume of production capacities, as well as European goals for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Among the participants were national politicians, members of the European Parliament, electricity firms, nuclear industry groups, consumers and civil society organisations who discussed possible options for nuclear energy as well as safety issues, especially non-proliferation.
But critical voices were heard as well from environmental NGOs and politicians from the Green Party, who pointed out that nuclear power is unviable without large-scale state subsidies.

My comment: As a physicist, I still think that appart from some little miseries as mining for uranium and nuclear waste that are still not solved, nuclear energy for the moment is the most efficient, clean and cheap. Even more, I don't think it will be better for the environment if biofuels replace nuclear energy. If they replace fossils-yes, but not nuclear plants. Biofuels are just not that good on the big scale.

EU industry warns about carbon trading and renewables

The industry lobby group BusinessEurope has warned that the EU must focus more on energy efficiency, rather than renewable energies and emissions trading, if it wants to prevent energy-intensive industries such as chemicals and steel-making from taking their operations elsewhere.

Seillière expressed industry concern that a shift in the EU ETS towards full auctioning of emission permits is "so problematic" that increasing costs could force companies to move outside the EU to countries where CO2 emissions are cheaper.
Full auctioning, an idea currently being discussed within the Commission, would signal a significant modification of the current system, under which member-state authorities allocate a percentage of permits to industry free of charge. During the last trading period (2005-2007), over-allocation of permits contributed to a crash in the carbon price.
The Commission is expected to put forward its proposals on a revised EU ETS for the post-2012 trading period on 23 January, along with a package of proposals on renewable energies and a communication on carbon capture and storage (CCS).
BusinessEurope argues the EU executive should focus more on realising the full potential of energy efficiency improvements rather than tightening the bloc's carbon market or pushing for "difficult to achieve" renewable energy targets. source:EuroAktiv

My comment:It makes sense to me. We have to improve our efficiency first, if we don't, it's just nonsense to claim we're doing good for the nature, as we're just shoving the problem under the carpet.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

China's supremacy in renewables, gas and renewables quotas

China set to take global lead in renewable energy

The emerging Asian superpower is poised to surpass world solar and wind manufacturing leaders in Europe, Japan, and North America in the next three years, the Worldwatch Institute said in a new report released on Wednesday.

At current growth rates, the report says China will likely achieve - and probably even exceed - its target of obtaining 15% of its energy from renewables in 2020, up from 8% currently. By 2050, it could even reach 30%, according to the report, "Powering China's Development: The Role of Renewable Energyexternal ", published on 14 November.

"More than $50 billion was invested in renewable energy worldwide in 2006, and China is expected to invest over $10 billion in new renewables capacity in 2007, second only to Germany," the report points out.

It says a combination of ambitious targets, strong government policies and the manufacturing performance of Chinese companies could enable China to quickly "leapfrog" competitors in industrialised countries.

Chief among those is wind power, "the fastest-growing power generation technology in China," according to the report, which notes a doubling in installed capacity in 2006 alone. But China is also catching up fast in solar, where the country is already leading the hot water market with 40 million solar systems installed - nearly two thirds of global capacity. "More than 10% of Chinese households rely on the sun to heat their water," the report points out, saying the figure could rise to one third by 2020.

In Europe, the next frontier in terms of wind power is offshore, with projects in the North Sea tipped to boost installed capacity and help resolve the intermittency issue with more stable wind conditions.

But EWEA, the European Wind Energy Association, says more could be done on the policy side. "Certain issues need to be addressed, such as those related to grid extension, operation and reinforcement and to R&D in some fundamental areas," EWEA said, adding that "a European policy for offshore wind energy is needed."

Caspian gas starts flowing in Turkey-Greece pipe

A new 285 km pipeline will bring natural gas from the Caspian region to Europe for the first time, in a move that will partly relieve the EU's heavy dependence on Russian gas.

The connection was opened on Sunday (18 November) by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis on a bridge over a river separating the two countries.
Karamanlis said the symbolic move indicated a thaw between the old rivals as Turkey progresses on its way to EU membership, despite persisting disagreement over the island of Cyprus.
The pipeline will bring natural gas from Azerbaijan and is part of the so-called Southern European Gas Ring project. Its capacity, currently at 250 million cubic metres of gas a year, is expected to triple when it is extended to Italy via a connection under the Adriatic Sea, expected to be completed in 2012.
The project has received financial and political backing from the European Union, which is keen to diversify its gas supplies away from Russia as tensions with Moscow have multiplied in recent years.
Ankara is also a key partner in the Nabucco pipeline project which is expected to bring Caspian gas to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria via Turkey. However, the project has been delayed due to financial and political difficulties.
"Turkey is moving fast to become the fourth energy supply route for natural gas to Western Europe. There is a mutual dependence in energy policies which will help create a favourable atmosphere," Erdogan said.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and US Secretary for Energy Samuel Bodman, in a sign that the America is keen to see the project through. "Turkey is an important energy gateway between the East and the West," Secretary Bodman said.
My comment: I'm extremely worried about the new-found dependency of EU on Turkey. Because we all know whose ally Turkey is. And that's not good. I don't really see the difference between dependeny on Russia and on USA-it's all the same-we're dependent. I hope someone figure out that sooner or later. And that renewables soon will be enough to breath easily.

Rich EU countries to bear greater renewables 'burden'

The minimum contribution of individual member states to EU renewable energy targets could be calculated on the basis of gross domestic product, according to recent comments by the Commission, which is preparing new legislation on renewables.

In March 2007, EU leaders committed themselves to an EU-wide target of producing 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020, setting the stage for heated debate about how the commitment will be divided between member states.

Currently, 8.5% of EU energy consumption stems from renewable energies, meaning the share
would need to be increased by 11.5% over the next 12 years to reach the 20% target.
Tom Howes, a Commission official at the Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN), said on 22 November that gross domestic product (GDP) may be used as an indicator
for determining the required percentage increase for each member state.

The system would work in two steps. First, each member state - regardless of GDP - would be required to increase renewable energy use by 5.75%. Then, as a second step, the remaining 5.75% increase would be adjusted according to GDP, with wealthier member states assigned a higher percentage than poorer ones, according to Howes.

But despite the potential for flexibility, "all member states will have to make significant
contributions to the target. No one can relax", Howes said, according to Reuters.

Member states with low potential for wind, solar, hydro or other non-fossil fuel energy production may also be allowed to purchase certified renewable energy credits from other member states with a higher renewables output, according to Howes.

A mechanism for trading renewables certificates already features in existing legislation on renewables, but the Commission has said it may expand the system as part of legislative proposals expected on 23 January 2008.

The renewable energy industry argues that a trading option will act as a disincentive for investment, as those member states with low renewables potential or under-developed markets will simply purchase credits from abroad.
My comment: I think this is fair, as we all know, what's the economical diversity among EU. I hope people will make the most out of it.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Green green Europe-e-bussiness, transport and soil protection

First of all, I'd like to express my utter ecstasy from the new 9 countries in the Shengen zone of EU. For many people that never knew the utter desperation when passing a border in old Europe that may seem like exaggeration, but to those of us that had to suffer hours of anger on those borders that's a lot. So, hooray for the new members of our European Dream and I can't wait for Bulgaria to join Shengen :)

Parliament approves soil strategy despite calls for its dismissal

Overriding a motion by 225 MEPs who argued that there should be 'no rush' to legislate on soil protection, the Parliament has voted in favour of a proposed EU soil protection law that grants considerable flexibility to member states.
The Commission's proposed framework directive on soil, part of its September 2006 soil strategy, defines common principles, objectives and actions but shies away from setting specific targets for member states.
On 9 October, MEPs in the Environment (ENVI) Committee voted in favour of a report, drafted by Spanish centre-right MEP and rapporteur Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines, which calls on member states to list contaminated sites in public inventories that must be updated at least every five years.
The soil dossier is not without controversy. In October, members from the EPP-ED group called, unsuccessfully, for an outright rejection of the proposal on the grounds that it lacked coherence and that more time was needed by member states to study different soil management and protection options.

The environmental impact of e-business and ICT

Scientific assessments of the environmental impact of information and communications technologies (ICT) are generally insufficient, write Lan Yi and Hywel R. Thomas in this paper from the University of Cardiff.

The paper addresses the issue of the environmental impact of ICT by providing a review of previous technological devlopments in this area, giving a critical summary.

In Europe, information technologies have a positive environmental impact, note the authors. They cite examples including the dematerialisation of transport, such as the switch from air travel to videoconferencing, and the digitalisation of information represented by the switch from catalogues to websites.

However, ICT equipment contains toxic and hazardous substances and is energy consuming, the paper says. In this regard, the study outlines three categories of environmental impact for ICT:

  • Environmental impact of business creation and development:
    Manufacturing ICT equipment uses resources and generates carbon emissions. The disposal of ICT equipment also raises environmental concerns;
  • Environmental impact of ICT use in business applications: The use of ICT has a generally positive impact on the environment, for example, the switch from travel to video conferences;
  • Environmental impact of mass use of ICT over the medium to long term: For example, if more and more people work at home due to increased use of ICT, they are more likely to take leisure drives.

Traditional environmental assessment approaches are "insufficient to accommodate the digital technology revolution" and "cannot accommodate the challenge of measuring the impact of ICT on environmental sustainability", concludes the paper.

'Green' transport projects to receive fresh EU cash

Railways and inland waterways will receive the lion's share of EU funding for trans-European transport network (TEN-T) projects for the period 2007 to 2013, the Commission has announced.

The construction of a trans-European transport network (TEN-T), where national networks for all modes of transport are accessible, interconnected and interoperable, is fundamental to securing a single market with free movement of passengers and goods, as well as for reinforcing economic ties and social cohesion and promoting competitiveness and sustainable development in the European Union.

After lengthy negotiations, member states downgraded the Commission's proposals to spend as much as €20 billion to the development of the trans-European transport network, and a total of €8.013 billion was finally allocated to under the multi-annual financial framework 2007-2013 – of which €5.1 billion for 30 priority projects, deemed essential for completing cross-border connections among the EU's 27 member states.

The Commission hopes that the 30 priority axes could be completed by 2020.
The EU is only entitled to contribute to projects at maximum rates of 10 to 30% - depending on the type of project . The rest of the money must come from national or private budgets.

The EU's limited funds available for financing transport infrastructure across Europe, for the period 2007-2013, will be concentrated on projects related to "critical cross-border sections" and on "the most environmentally-friendly transport modes – inland waterways and rail", the EU's Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot told members of Parliament on 21 November.

The Commission received 221 project proposals from member states, with support requests totaling over €11.5 billion. However, with a Community budget limited at just €5.1 billion, the

Commissioner explained that he preferred to concentrate these funds on a limited amount of important projects, rather than spreading them out among all of them. He said this would help create a "leverage" effect and accelerate the realisation of projects important for removing
remaining transport bottlenecks and for the effective functioning of the single market.

Underlining the EU's commitment to sustainable development, Barrot pointed out that inland waterways would receive 11.5% of the total budget. Railways will get 74.2% of total funds, while roads receive just 2.7%.

The Commission is also proposing to allocate funds to two "traffic management" projects aimed at optimising existing infrastructure:
  • €350 million to the SESAR project, which aims to create a 'single European sky' that will help deal with the increasing number of flights that arriving and departing from European airports, while also helping to contribute to fuel savings and cutting CO2 emissions.
  • €100 million for intelligent road transport systems, to help optimise infrastructure capacity, promote intermodality and improve the safety of road networks.
source: EuroAktiv
My comment: I think this is very nice development-after all, we all know how polluting airplanes and cars are, so let's stimulate the other transports and see what will happen.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Parliament approves soil strategy despite calls for its dismissal

Parliament approves soil strategy despite calls for its dismissal

Overriding a motion by 225 MEPs who argued that there should be 'no rush' to legislate on soil protection, the Parliament has voted in favour of a proposed EU soil protection law that grants considerable flexibility to member states.
The Commission's proposed framework directive on soil, part of its September 2006 soil strategy, defines common principles, objectives and actions but shies away from setting specific targets for member states.
On 9 October, MEPs in the Environment (ENVI) Committee voted in favour of a report, drafted by Spanish centre-right MEP and rapporteur Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines, which calls on member states to list contaminated sites in public inventories that must be updated at least every five years.
The soil dossier is not without controversy. In October, members from the EPP-ED group called, unsuccessfully, for an outright rejection of the proposal on the grounds that it lacked coherence and that more time was needed by member states to study different soil management and protection options.

The environmental impact of e-business and ICT

Scientific assessments of the environmental impact of information and communications technologies (ICT) are generally insufficient, write Lan Yi and Hywel R. Thomas in this paper from the University of Cardiff.

The paper addresses the issue of the environmental impact of ICT by providing a review of previous technological devlopments in this area, giving a critical summary.

In Europe, information technologies have a positive environmental impact, note the authors. They cite examples including the dematerialisation of transport, such as the switch from air travel to videoconferencing, and the digitalisation of information represented by the switch from catalogues to websites.

However, ICT equipment contains toxic and hazardous substances and is energy consuming, the paper says. In this regard, the study outlines three categories of environmental impact for ICT:

  • Environmental impact of business creation and development:
    Manufacturing ICT equipment uses resources and generates carbon emissions. The disposal of ICT equipment also raises environmental concerns;
  • Environmental impact of ICT use in business applications: The use of ICT has a generally positive impact on the environment, for example, the switch from travel to video conferences;
  • Environmental impact of mass use of ICT over the medium to long term: For example, if more and more people work at home due to increased use of ICT, they are more likely to take leisure drives.

Traditional environmental assessment approaches are "insufficient to accommodate the digital technology revolution" and "cannot accommodate the challenge of measuring the impact of ICT on environmental sustainability", concludes the paper.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

EU sets tougher fuel regulations

MEPs back tougher fuel standards for oil industry

The European Parliament's environment committee has backed Commission plans aimed at making the oil industry take greater responsibility for cutting harmful emissions generated by its products, which experts say could prevent some 500 million tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.

The Commission has proposed revising EU-wide specifications, contained in the 1998 Fuel Quality Directive , relating to the use of petrol, diesel and gas oil in cars, trucks, inland waterway barges, tractor locomotives and machinery (EurActiv 01/02/07).
The review aims to reflect the latest developments in fuel and engine technology, including the development of lower carbon fuels such as biofuels, and to tighten standards so as to help combat climate change and meet the EU's ambitious air-quality objectives (see Clean Air Strategy).

Among the proposals are amendments that would permit higher volumes of biofuels such as ethanol to be used in petrol and that would oblige fuel suppliers to ensure that greenhouse gases produced by their fuels throughout their life cycle (i.e. production, transport and use) are cut by 1% per year between 2011 and 2020 (Article 7a) (see LinksDossier on the Fuel Quality Directive).

In a vote on 27 November, MEPs agreed that, as of 2009, all fuel suppliers should be required to monitor and report on the "lifecycle greenhouse emissions" produced by their fuels throughout their life-cycle (i.e. production, transport and use) and that those emissions should be cut by 10% between 2011 and 2020.

Nevertheless, the committee voted in favour of granting a more flexible timeline to industry, saying that CO2 emissions should be reduced by "at least 2% every two years" rather than the strict annual 1% cut that the Commission was proposing.

On the other hand, MEPs approved the introduction of binding "sustainability criteria" in the directive, saying this is necessary to avoid a situation where fuel makers focus purely on cutting CO2 at the lowest possible cost, without any consideration for other potentially negative environmental side-effects – notably those linked to the mass production of biofuels made from agricultural crops, including deforestation, food price hikes and water shortages.

Under the new criteria, only biofuels that meet these minimum biodiversity and social requirements and which are able to deliver life-cycle CO2 savings of at least 50% compared to fossil fuels, would count towards the 10% target.

MEPs also rejected Commission plans to allow non-road vehicles and inland waterway vessels to continue using diesel containing as much as 300mg/kg of sulphur until 2011, saying all vehicles should respect a strict 10mg/kg limit as of 2009.

They also said the permitted content of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in diesel should be reduced from 11% to 6% rather than the 8% proposed by the Commission.

My comment: Now, these are really tougher regulations, I hope I'll see them in reality, not only on paper.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The battle of Peugo and BMW

EU car emission rules reveal Franco-German rift

As the Commission prepares to unveil detailed legislation on cutting carbon dioxide emissions from cars, France has already set itself up for a battle with Germany on the issue, with Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo criticising a German proposal for a system where heavier cars would be allowed to pollute more than others.

"By virtue of the polluter pays principle, those with the biggest pollution should make the biggest progress [on cutting emissions]", France's environment minister told the Financial Times on 14 November, adding: "Nothing justifies giving a bigger right to pollute to the buyer of a bigger vehicle."
German manufacturers have been advocating a system where Europe's automotive industry would receive differentiated caps according to the weight of the vehicles they produce, thus enabling heavier cars, such as SUVs and luxury models, to exceed a target of 130 grammes of CO2 per kilometre set by the Commission.
German manufacturers typically produce larger, high-performance vehicles, while French and Italian manufacturers are specialised in smaller, more fuel-efficient models.
A report by the green NGO Transport & Environment (T&E), published on 15 November, reveals that French carmakers, including Peugeot, Citroen and Renault, have much lower average carbon emissions than German ones, like Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler and BMW (144 g/km versus 173 g/km). Moreover, they also succeeded in cutting their emissions by 1.9% between 2005 and 2006, while German manufacturers actually increased their emissions by 0.6% - contradicting Europe's ambitious climate change goals.
Borloo said the German proposal would constrain the market for small vehicles and encourage the production of heavier cars rather than promote innovative technologies aimed at making bigger cars lighter.
T&E adds that there is "a strong relationship" between a car's weight and its fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, and that for each percentage point of weight saved on a vehicle, its emissions would be cut by 0.8%.
Basing CO2 standards on weight would thus be "completely counterproductive because it punishes weight reductions with tougher standards", said T&E Director Jos Dings.
The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) earlier this year defended a weight-based approach as "likely to be the best parameter to distribute the cap among industry" in order to preserve diversity for consumers (EurActiv 30/08/07). Different brands cater for different market segments, it stressed.
source: EuroAktiv
My comment: I completely agree with everything said in the article. Even more, I see terrible tendency on the roads of driver of german cars like BMW and Audi to drive irresponsibly and to act like they are invincible. Which would be fine if they died when they crashed, but thanks to the safety mechanisms usually the other guys involved in the crash dies. And anyway, who cares about that? I want cleaner air, if small cars have to obey the laws, the big ones should do the same. Ok, small cars will have to do less effort in cutting the taxes, but in the same time, big cars cost way more. Then there is a balance.Stop complaining and start acting. Even more, if EU makes a compromise for the big cars, then everybody will start driving big cars which will emit more and pollute more. And I don't think that's all right!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New effots on the CO2 front

'Carbon' import duty proposal fails to impress

A French proposal to impose a tax on imports of industrial goods from countries with less stringent environmental regulations met with scepticism from EU ministers last week. However, voluntary sectoral agreements to reduce CO2 emissions appear to be gaining favour.

The idea behind the proposal, originally tabled by former French President Jacques Chirac and recently brought back into discussion by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is to protect European industries that face heavy compliance costs under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
In light of tighter CO2 caps for the 2008-2012 trading period of the EU ETS, companies in the refining sector in particular have complained that the scheme places them under too much strain, and have floated the option of 'delocalisation' – involving moving their operations outside EU territory – in order to reduce costs in the face of competition from companies that are not required to offset CO2 emissions.
US companies, for example, may be at a competitive advantage to European companies since the US did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol and has no binding emissions trading system.

One idea that has been discussed within the Commission would be to require importers to purchase emission allowances under EU ETS before their products can enter the EU market, according to a French diplomat.

But a Commission official said last week that the scheme is "unlikely" to be successful because of concerns over legal challenges at World Trade Organisation (WTO) level, as well as the complexities involved in calculating the price an importer would need to pay, according to the Financial Times.
Experts close to the discussions also suggest the idea, discussed informally by EU ministers during a 22-23 November Competitiveness Council, may not get the approval of a majority of EU member states, even if WTO compliance can be assured. EU businesses fear that other countries might introduce retaliatory measures on their exports, while importing companies with environmentally-friendly production methods could be eligible to receive EU ETS credits, making their imports cheaper, the WWF's Stephan Singer told the FT.
Comments made by EU Enterprise Commissioner Günter Verheugen in a 19 November speech to the Parliament's Temporary Committee on Climate Change point to the EU's preference for voluntary sectoral agreements to cut emissions.
Verheugen is expected to further endorse the idea in a speech on 27 November that will also set out the EU's official negotiating mandate during the 3-14 December UN Climate Change Conference (COP 13) in Bali.
My comment: I think it's important to stimulate the CO2 friendly countries with every measure possible. And I don't like the dominance of WTO so I think Europe really should think of something like that. I mean- if we can charge China light bulbs why not charge american petrols and companies? I don't see the difference.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Europe in science

Business urges more 'demand' for research

The EU is too focused on creating infrastructures and generating research activity when it should concentrate on creating markets and demand for research and innovation, argues BusinessEurope ahead of a Council meeting with a heavy research agenda.

The Commission responded to these concerns by announcing an upcoming communication on joint public research programmes, which will start a process next year to identify both priorities for international co-operation and topics to be left at national level. Member states are expected to be closely involved in this process from the beginning.

The Commission also underlined that the target of increasing EU investment in R&D to 3% of GDP by 2010 is an example of a mix of 'pull side' measures in the areas of fiscal policy, internal market and IPR that will be followed up with the communication on lead markets in December 2007.

EU struggling to secure funds for 'low carbon future'

The European Commission has proposed industrial initiatives and greater research efforts as part of plans to increase the uptake of low CO2 technologies in the EU, but postponed difficult financing questions to next year.
Low carbon energy technologies include renewables such as wind, solar and hydrogen, but also more conventional technologies such as 'sustainable' nuclear fission and carbon capture and storage (CCS), although environmental groups question whether these can truly be considered clean./well, from my point of view it's all right as fission for now is way cleaner than fossils/
These 'green' or 'clean' technologies are seen as a key part of the development of an Energy Policy for Europe, officially launched with the Commission's publication of a 10 January energy and climate 'package' that was endorsed by EU leaders in March 2007.
A communication calling for a new 'Strategic Energy Technology Plan' (SET Plan) was presented as part of the January package.

EU technology initiatives crawl one step further

After months of discussions on the legal structure and statutes, the Competitiveness Council found a majority in support of the first four Joint Technology Initiatives, which could finally be kicked off in 2008.
Announced in the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), JTIs are meant to establish long-term, public-private partnerships on specific research areas, combining private-sector investment with national and European public funding.

The novelty of these initiatives is that the research topics would be defined by industry. They also represent a move away from the traditional approach of case-by-case public funding of projects to concentrate resources on a few strategic issues, defined by industry in specific fields.

The Commission has identified six areas in which JTIs could be established: innovative medicines; embedded computing systems; aeronautics and air transport; hydrogen and fuel cells; nanoelectronics technologies 2020, and; global monitoring for environment and security.
Four of these proposals have reached the Council table after serious delays over discussions on the legal structure of JTIs:
  • Innovative medicines (IMI )

  • Embedded computing systems (ARTEMIS )

  • Nano-electronic technologies (ENIAC )

  • Aeronautics and air transport (CLEAN SKY )
The Council reached a common understanding on main elements related to the four proposals in September 2007.
My comment: Now that's a progress, though I don't understand why Hydrogen and fuel cells was left out. It's practical! But go ahead, let's have something real instead of bunch of nice ideas.

EIT agreed but funding still to be found

EU ministers in charge of research policy reached a political agreement this morning on the European Institute of Technology, leaving the more difficult issue of its financing to economy ministers discussing the 2008 budget today.

The EU-27 ministers in charge of competitiveness reached, on 23 November 2007, a political agreement on a compromise text on the Commission's proposal for a regulation establishing the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

Several countries have already expressed their desire to host the institute and in the Council discussions, on 23 November, some member states pressed for the EIT's governing board to be established "as soon as possible". " /yeah, right, if it's for the money,me wants too /

While the content of the regulation is now known and agreed upon, the precise funding of the institute remains somewhat unclear. The sources of the Community contribution to the EIT will be subject to a separate agreement.

The Council has agreed to allocate some €308.7 million of Community money to the EIT's initial phase, 2008-2013, but no money is foreseen for that purpose in the EU's long-term budget. Part of the amount could be assigned to the EIT from the 2008 budget.

Galileo comes one step closer to reality

A new plan for industrial tendering for the troubled satellite navigation system, tabled by the Commission, is expected to find support at a meeting of EU transport ministers later this week after Germany said its concerns over tendering rules have been met.

The Commission has presented the EU member states a new industrial tendering plan for Galileo, in what appears to be a last-chance attempt to save the troubled EU project.
"If we don't reach a clear agreement on the financing of Galileo before the end of this year, it will be too late and we need to put an end to our efforts," warned Michele Cercone.

Cercone said the revised plan had made progress on three issues: governance, financing and the industrial tendering process for Galileo.
He said the latter would include at least the following principles in order to "guarantee competition and transparency":
  • rules on 'non-accumulation': in the tendering process, the prime contractor could be the prime contractor only in two of the segments and not more;
  • sub-contracting: the prime contractor would have to subcontract a large share (around 40%) to other companies that are not winners of the bid.
Germany, which had voiced concerns that competitive tendering rules could end up excluding home firms from the Galileo projects, has already signaled that it could support the Commission's new proposal.
"No member state has shown opposition to work inside this framework. So we are convinced that a solution to Galileo's problems can be found inside it," said Cercone, adding that the Commission hoped to achieve substantial progress on the issue before the Transport Council this week, on 29 November.
The same day, after marathon discussions on the EU 2008 budget, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers reached an agreement on the on the financing of of the Galileo through EU budget.
My comment: Yes! I mean it! This project should have started so long ago and it looked doom for a while. But now I see a new life in it. And it was hight time. Competition makes the progress, with Galileo breathing in the neck of GPS, I'm sure, innovations won't be late.

EU research networks threatened by lack of funding

The future of research co-operation projects launched under the EU-funded Networks of Excellence (NoE) is being called into question due to lack of political will and insufficient support from member states, a scientific forum warned last week.

Partners of Networks of Excellence gathered on 20 November 2007 sounded the alarm over the future of the Networks of excellence (NoE) EU research policy instrument. Introduced under the Sixth Framework Programme for research (FP6), NoEs were designed to overcome the fragmentation of European research on particular topics by durably integrating different partners' research capacities.
"The future of the NoE is however unclear. There are risks of interruption of several successful initiatives which brought together many research institutes and universities from all 27 member states," stated the forum.
An opinion paper put together by FP6-funded NoEs deplores that "in FP7, the number of NoEs has been substantially cut back in the first calls, with only 17 networks being funded, as compared to 101 in FP6. In addition, no support for existing NoEs has been announced." The networks launched under FP6 do not know how to survive and secure financing once the EU funding has been used. The average €7 million EU contribution (double that of an ordinary EU-funded project) allows for three to five years of activity, but durable integration takes more time.
He added, that "'open research' is the idea that if you want to carry out research in Europe in an integrated way, you can't rely solely on the Commission. You have to bring together the different, including national, research funders - the Commission can only act as a catalyst for cross-border discussions."
Asked whether the mandate of the group was linked to the identification of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) of the European Institute of Technology, Magnien said that the Commission will propose a revision of FP7 in 2009.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

China and Indi-biggest fossil fuels consummers? And of course, E.ON fix for electricity

Today, I give you a report on the growth of India and China and pretty pretty corruption scent from Germany- or how to increase the electricity bill with minimum efforts...

IEA warns of 'runaway' energy thirst as oil prices soar

China and India's emergence in world energy markets and their massive projected energy needs are the focal points of the International Energy Agency's (IEA) 2007 World Energy Outlook, which calls for a 'radical shift' in investment towards cleaner, more efficient energy technologies.

Based on reference scenario projections, the world will need over 55% more primary energy than in 2005 to meet the needs of populations in 2030, and 45% of that energy demand will come from India and China, according to the IEA.
Higher oil and gas prices are driving coal take-up in many economies, particularly in India and China, according to the report.

China uses coal to meet two-thirds of its primary energy demands and is expected to surpass the US in terms of CO2 emissions in 2007. Its overall CO2 output is expected to more than double by 2030, according to the IEA.

India is expected to use three times more coal by 2030 to meet of its primary energy demand. But unlike China, which is expanding its transport infrastructure to carry vast inland coal reserves to its coastal regions, India has few reserves and must rely increasingly on coal imports.

India will become the world's third largest coal importer by 2025 and the world's third largest CO2 emitter by 2015. source

'Impressive' energy cartel uncovered in Germany

The German cartel office has compiled considerable evidence of price fixing and anti-competitive behaviour by Germany's four main electricity and gas suppliers, according to information obtained by the Spiegel.

In a series of secret meetings between 2003 and 2006, the chief executives of Germany's four main energy suppliers E.ON, RWE, Vattenfall (of Sweden) and EnBW (partially owned by France's EDF) exchanged sensitive and secret information about their companies and discussed common strategies for a variety of markets, according to the Spiegel.

The German weekly reported on 3 November that the German cartel office (Kartellamt) had already compiled a 30-page report in November 2006 containing far-reaching allegations of cartel-like behaviour, based on thousands of pieces of evidence obtained through raids by the Commission's Directorate-General for Competition.

E.ON in particular devoted considerable efforts to influencing the price of energy, including through the premature decommissioning of power plants, according to the report.(fuckers) (source)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Green tax, Airlines problems and Biofuels sustainability

Ministers to debate expanding list of 'green' tax breaks

EU member states have sent their finance ministers to Brussels today (13 November) to discuss a proposal, first tabled by Britain and France in July, to reduce Value Added Tax (VAT) rates on certain environmentally friendly goods.

Current EU VAT rules, spelled out in the 2006 VAT Directive, allow for reduced rates for energy consumption in order to give poorer households access to energy. The rules also allow for reduced rates for a variety of goods and services, but 'green' considerations have traditionally not driven the selection of items on the list.

In July, France and Britain announced their support for an extension of the reduced VAT list to products such as energy efficient light bulbs and insulation materials.

While the support of France and Britain, which has been traditionally opposed to new tax laws originating in Brussels, may give a boost to the measure, reducing or harmonising VAT rates across the EU is difficult since the unanimous backing of all 27 EU member states is required.

France intends to push for agreement on the VAT issue during its presidency of the EU from July to December 2008...France may also push for penalties on imports from countries with high pollution levels, such as China. (lol) (source)

My comment:
Great! I like the idea, I hope they put it in Reality the right way! And I want EU as social as possible, of course : )

Airlines to face tougher CO2 targets following MEPs' vote

Airlines must reduce CO2 emissions by 10% when they join the EU's carbon cap-and-trade scheme in 2011, the European Parliament said in a vote, an outcome which disappointed both airlines and environmentalists.

The proposal involves imposing a cap on CO2 emissions for all planes arriving or departing from EU airports, while allowing airlines to buy and sell 'pollution credits' on the EU 'carbon market'.

  • All airlines flying to and from EU territory should join the scheme in 2011. MEPs thereby rejected the Commission's proposal that international flights should be given an extra year and ignored threats from third countries, including the US, that they would instigate legal action if the EU attempts to unilaterally force them to comply with the scheme;
  • military flights and planes weighing less than 20,000kg, such as business jets, would be excluded. (source-btw read this one, it's fun!)
My comment: Cool! Though I don't see why business jets should be excluded! Nor the military ones...But I like that they forced that measure on everybody, not just one EU flights, as that would be very unfair. If you use our air, you'll play according to our rules. Right?!

Turkey cry over REACH rules

Turkish manufacturers are experiencing difficulties as a result of the EU's REACH chemicals regulation, according to Turkish exporters, who argue that the country should fulfil its pre-accession duties, but "not be discriminated against by the EU at the same time", EurActiv Turkey reports. (my comment:well, if you export to the EU, it's normal to have to obey its laws, i think. Otherwise, it would be discrimination against the producers in the EU)

UN panel to address sustainability of biofuels

Assessing the environmental and social impacts of biofuel production and the sustainable recycling of metals are likely to top the agenda of a new global think tank on resource efficiency, set up by the United Nations on 9 November.source
My comment: Finally, something remembered to put some science into the picture. Eh, well, better late than never.

Friday, November 23, 2007

EU vs. Gazprom round N, China's new renewable toys and the latest on CO2 storage

Once upon the time, I talked about the battle of EU with Russia/Gazprom. Back then, it was something that looked funny to me, because, of course, nobody called it like this. But now, it seems like I was right. Check out this:

EU-Russia gas battles 'only beginning', says report

With Gazprom actively seeking stakes in the European and particularly the German energy market, a new report warns about a 'clash of agendas' between the EU and Russia that will increasingly undermine the security of Europe's energy supply.

"While the EU is challenged by issues related to gas supply, Russia is fighting the challenges related to access to the market. This clash of agendas is threatening Europe's security of supply", says the European Energy Markets Observatory 2007, published by the consultancy Capgemini.

The report points to increased efforts by Gazprom, Russia's state-owned energy giant, to gain "control of the whole value chain" of the EU's energy supply, citing a number of new gas infrastructure projects and important pipeline ventures agreed jointly with Germany's E.ON and Italy's ENI. Alexander Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of Gazprom's Management Committee, seemed to confirm the trend.

The EU's dependancy on Russian gas is increasing steadily, and is expected to go from 25% (the current level of dependency) to 50% by 2030, according to the Commission.

Colette Lewiner, one of the authors of the report, told Reuters that the planned construction in Europe of numerous new fossil fuel power plants, most of which rely on imports of oil, coal or gas (notably from Russia), is incoherent with respect to the EU's objective of increasing supply security while decreasing CO2 emissions. source

Well, couldn't agree more! We either go green or buy gas from Russia, there's no middle way. But anyway, better Russia than USA.

China set to take global lead in renewable energy

The emerging Asian superpower is poised to surpass world solar and wind manufacturing leaders in Europe, Japan, and North America in the next three years, the Worldwatch Institute said in a new report released on Wednesday.

At current growth rates, the report says China will likely achieve - and probably even exceed - its target of obtaining 15% of its energy from renewables in 2020, up from 8% currently. By 2050, it could even reach 30%, according to the report, "Powering China's Development: The Role of Renewable Energyexternal ", published on 14 November.

"More than $50 billion was invested in renewable energy worldwide in 2006, and China is expected to invest over $10 billion in new renewables capacity in 2007, second only to Germany," the report points out.

It says a combination of ambitious targets, strong government policies and the manufacturing performance of Chinese companies could enable China to quickly "leapfrog" competitors in industrialised countries. source

My comment: Well, very well said again! All you need is an idea, few billions and decisive government. No question ask, no answers given.
EU plans inclusion of CO2 storage in carbon trading scheme

Industrial greenhouse gases prevented from entering the atmosphere through the use of so-called carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology are to be credited as not emitted under the EU emissions trading scheme, according to Commission plans to be put forward next year.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a method whereby CO2 released during energy production from fossil fuels is captured, transported and stored in underground geological formations. CCS is seen as a key component of EU efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But the technology is expensive and faces public scepticism in terms of the safety of long-term underground CO2 storage. It remains uncertain whether CCS will become commercially viable in time to contribute significantly to the EU's commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020. source

My comment:Doesn't it sound little bit like a joke? EU keep on putting off and off the limits it put itself on. It's ridiculous. Why we should care about the jerks in the BMWs? Give them a fine and let them figure out the problem. As for storage, I wanna know, who guarantees me that after storaging the CO2, it will stay there.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Europe and the World

EU considers 'pause for thought' on GMOs

EU environment ministers have failed to agree to force Austria to lift a national ban on GMOs, highlighting deep divisions among the 27-member bloc over the issue.

For the third time in a row since 2005, the environment ministers failed, on 30 October 2007, to find a qualified majority for or against a Commission proposal to lift restrictions on the provisional prohibition of the use and sale in Austria of two genetically modified (GM) varieties of maize. It will now be up to the Commission to make the decision.

The Commission proposed forcing Austria to drop its national ban onimporting two types of GM maize (MON810 and T25) and processing them into food and feed in order to conform to WTO rules (see EurActiv 19/12/2006). (source)

On that you may want to check this too.

My comment: Now, this is an important one! I was considering publishing it in a separate post but I don't have the time. Please, do check the sources on this as I think it's EXTREMELY important! I don't understand how WTO can force any country to import things that that country finds not safe for it's population. I hope Austria holds steady on this. It's not even question of GMo /which I think unsafe/ but of not interference with a country's internal politics! You simply can't force a country to open its market for something. Especially when that something has the same property of creating its own market like the cocaine! It's wrong! And yeah, so WTO can't protect the interest of Austria, but it can do it for USA and the rest?! Come on! That's wrong!!!

EU overtakes US in productivity growth

For the first time since 2001, the EU has outstripped the US in
productivity growth, according to a recent competitiveness report from
the European Commission that sees Europe 'on a growth path'.

The EU hailed its best economic performance since 2000 with growthrates
at 3% and worker productivity growing strongly at 1.5% in
2006,according to the Commission's annual competitiveness report,
published on 5 November. Productivity grew stronger in the EU than in
the US (1.4%) in what the Commission hopes is a "long-term trend". (source)

My comment: YAY! Go, Europe, go! No need to tell this is probably mostly due to the emigrants from the new members...

Germany plans law against foreign takeovers

Germany plans to introduce a law preventing takeovers of strategic industries, in a move directed against sovereign wealth

funds orginating in countries such as Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and China. The law also targets hedge funds and state holdings from non-EU countries, such as Russia's Gazprom.

The law would give the German federal governement the right to veto any foreign investment amounting to 25% or more of a company's stakes. When such an investment is notified, the government would have four weeks to
either approve or veto it. In cases of secretive investments on stock markets, the governement would have three months to decide and could even call for a roll-back of the deal - a move that is intended to encourage foreign investors to notify partial takeover bids. (source)
My comment: Well, it's the normal thing to do-if foreign investors control industries that are essential to the life, they can easily put a country on its knees. So I'm with that idea!

One Europe, one tax: plans for a common consolidated corporate tax base

A Commission plan to introduce a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) is likely to benefit large enterprises but smaller companies will be "out of their depth" when choosing between national and European systems, according to a new Deutsche Bank Research paper by Frank Zipfel.

The 25 September paper admits that the plan to harmonise the corporate income tax base, due to be unveiled before the end of the year, could potentially help companies cut their tax compliance costs.

However, he fears that the CCCTB will cause higher administrative costs for public sector authorities in the participating countries.
Moreover, he warns that a CCCTB involves "considerable curtailment of the member states' tax autonomy", and as decisions relating to taxes require unanimity, he believes that "the chances of a CCCTB being realised for the EU-27 are rather small". (source)
My comment: I'm not sure if that can be done currently, but I'm sure it should be done! So the least we can do is to start working for it...

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Europe and the Nature

EU environment ministers have acknowledged the dramatic increase in
water scarcity and droughts in Europe and called on the Commission and
member states to step up their efforts to implement existing directives.(source)

A draft regulation currently being discussed within the Commission sets
out fees for the market authorisation of chemical substances by the
European Chemicals Agency, established as part of the REACH chemicals
regulation. (source)

Most member states have missed a deadline to issue pollution permits
for industrial installations as mandated by a 1996 directive. The
Commission, which is currently drafting a proposal to revise
the directive, may impose stricter rules and has warned that the
implementation delay could lead to infringement proceedings.

The 1996 Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC)
introduces a permit system to prevent and limit pollution from
large-scale industrial installations. Sectors covered include
everything from metals, chemicals and paper to processed food, oil
refineries and large-scale pig and poultry farms.

The permits include precise emission limit values and are to
be issued by the competent authorities in the member states. When
drawing up the limits, the authorities are required to take into
account reference documents (BREFs) compiled on the basis of Best
Available Techniques (BATs), agreed upon at EU level.

Although the transposition of the IPPC directive into national law
was due in 1999, member states were given a transition period until
October 2007 to ensure that their existing industrial installations are
fully compliant. (source)

With less than eight months remaining before it must come up with a
universal model to make users of all transport modes pay for the
negative effects they inflict on society – including air pollution, CO2
emissions, accidents and congestion – the European Commission has
invited stakeholders to take part in the controversial debate.(source)

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another look at the treaty:what's it, who's on, and who's out

Ok, because I write so often about our treaty, i'm offering a little more analysis on it, which i found in EuroAktiv. Enjoy.

The EU's Reform Treaty has actually produced two treaties: "a treaty on the EU, which contains most of the institutional provisions, and a second treaty on the functioning of the Union", write Daniel Gros and Stefano Micossi of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).

Although the road to the Reform Treaty has been painful, the final agreement – in which "most of the substance of the failed Constitution has been preserved" – will serve the EU well, believe the authors.

The October commentary remarks that the treaty's two-level structure is an "important innovation", providing for a fundamental law on which everyone must agree, and "specific policies on which dissent is normal and can thus be modified more easily". The authors claim the new treaty improves decision-making through the permanent, elected presidency for the Council, as well as its

institutionalisation and new voting mechanism based on majorities of countries and population, thus providing "a better equilibrium between big and small countries".

Gros and Micossi argue that the democratic control mechanisms are improved too, with the new treaty making national parliaments and the European Court of Justice the "gatekeepers of subsidiarity", and even providing for powers to be returned to the member states "with a simple decision of the Council".

Who got what:

  • Poland managed to include the so-called Ioannina clause in a Protocol. This allows for a minority of member states to delay key decisions taken by qualified majority in the Council "within a reasonable space of time", even if they do not dispose of a blocking
    minority. However, the clause is not included in the actual Treaty text, which means that member states can alter this provision without having to go through the cumbersome procedure of Treaty change.

  • Italy obtained an extra seat in the European Parliament, putting it back on equal footing with the UK, but giving it one seat less than France.

  • The UK defended its "red lines" and received wide-ranging opt-outs on cooperation in justice and home affairs. The UK and Poland also opted out of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. source

So much about what' it, now let's see who's thinking what.
Obviously, in UK there will be a problems as G. Brown is firm on not having a
referendum on it, while offering full parliamentary debate. In France "61% of the surveyed want a referendum and 68% of those who answered said that they would vote in favour of the
treaty and only 32% of respondents said that they would vote against." (source), in Ireland, which is bound to ask the people by its constitution, we have "25% of Irish citizens would vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, while 13% would vote against. An overwhelming 62% of those asked are undecided, with little more than a year left until the 1 January 2009
deadline to ratify the new treaty" (source), Italy got its extra MEP's seat /distribution was "unacceptable" before/ (source).

And yeah, the priorities of EU announced by (source) "The European Commission has released its political programme for the coming year, with a core focus on issues such as growth and jobs, climate change, energy and migration – confirming its desire to move on
from matters of institutional reform."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

God speed to our lovely treaty!

Here's our treaty deal! Let's enjoy it while we can. The funny part is that it really looks like all got what they wanted. It's kind of nice knowing our union satisfies our needs to such extent. But then, i hope this is the last time when the EU is being black-mailed by its members. It's high time we understood this is our union, we have to work for it, not against it. And yes,i'm speaking of Poland. Though, future could prove me wrong, who knows...

Treaty reform: over and done with…at last

Last week's treaty summit may mark the end of an entire phase of the European integration process in which progress has chiefly been made through institutional "giant leaps forward", argues a post-summit analysis from the European Policy Centre (EPC).

The 22 October paper remarks that leaders appear determined to "move on" following the lengthy reform process, and are seeking parliamentary approval instead of referenda on the new treaty wherever possible.

The EPC highlight the main results of the treaty agreement:

  • A five-year suspension of infringement proceedings against Austria over the application of quotas for foreign students at its medical schools.
  • Bulgaria won the right to call the EU single currency 'evro'. (yeah!!!)
  • A "largely symbolic" redistribution of seats between Spain, France, Italy and the UK for the 2009-14 European Parliament.
  • Poland's demand for the 'Ioannina compromise' on delaying decisions was satisfied in a special Protocol, which is "reasonable and workable".
  • Poland was given the same right as Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain to have a permanent Advocate-General in the European Court of Justice.
  • Parliament will have a say in the appointment of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Regarding the Polish election result, the EPC paper believes that the new government will "play a more constructive role inside the EU" and diffuse tensions with Russia by toning down the rhetoric on meat exports and postponing a decision on missile defence.

The paper predicts that with the posts of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, President of the European Parliament, Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Head of the WTO all available at roughly the same
time, June 2009 will be "a big horse-trading jamboree".

The paper concludes that the new treaty is the "best possible institutional deal that could have been reached in the current circumstances" and its provisions are unlikely to be altered for a long time, meaning that the EU can now concentrate on issues of substance, symbolised by EU leaders' rapid shift to policy discussions on the summit's final day.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

A new plan(s) to gain popularity for EU

A new plan to "Communicate Europe in partnership", to be unveiled on 3 October by the Commission, proposes an "inter-institutional agreement" to align communication priorities among EU institutions and member states.

Priorities are to be laid down in "management partnership" agreements negotiated with each national government, in order to try to get the message across at the local level.

Climate change and energy, the EU's new 'Reform Treaty', growth and jobs and mobilising voters in the run-up to the 2009 European elections should all be among the common priorities for such an inter-institutional agreement, said Margot Wallström, Commission Vice-President in charge of institutional relations and communications strategy.

It is also the Commission's wish that member states do more explanatory work at an early age with the inclusion of basic education about European integration in school curricula.

"It has to start with the civic competences and the civic education. EU citizens have a right to know and to be heard," Wallström told a group of Brussels journalists on 2 October.


The plan:

  • Greater cooperation among institutions

The Commission proposes an inter-institutional agreement to improve cooperation among the EU's institutions on how they communicate. At the same time, it underlines that this will not "prevent each EU institution from having separate communication activities".

  • Greater involvement from member states

The Commission proposes to conclude so-called 'management partnership' agreements with member states as the "main instruments to carry out joint communication initiatives". The aim is to "go local" in communicating the EU and to encourage "active European citizenship".

The partnerships would be concluded on a voluntary basis and tailor-made to each country's needs and challenges.

  • Fostering European Public Spaces

The paper proposes the development of "European Public Spaces" in the representations at national level. This should lead to "joint communication plans" between the Commission, Parliament and member state, which would allow communication to be specifically tailored to each country.

Other proposals include taking a look at the role of school education, strengthening Eurobarometer polls and setting up information networks.

The Commission further sets out its plan to strengthen new media, such as the Internet and audiovisual communication and follow up on "Plan D" civil society dialogue projects. The Commission will also "take stock of Plan D and present proposals to widen the democratic debate throughout Europe". Even though it will be too late to feed into the Reform Treaty, this shall be done with a view to its ratification and the run-up to the 2009 European elections.

Meanwhile, Communication Commissioner Margot Wallström is still pushing to insert a formula acknowledging the need for EU communication in the draft Reform Treaty, which is currently being finalised.

My comment: As you all know, I'm in love with European Union. That's why I think it's essential to start educating people about the benefits of this Union. They should be informed why living in EU is so damn important. People from the older states often take for granted the FREEDOM which living without boundaries gives them and the COMFORT that the common currency offer. Not to speak about the lower mobile rates-made reality thanks to EU. As a person who saw the time before EU and after, I'm ready to pledge allegiance to EU and I think it's important that people are told what was before and what is now even from earliest age. Because the world now is so much better. You can trust me on that!

Europe must politicise or die

Europe "urgently needs a proper debate as well as choices about its political direction" if it is to "regain the interest of its citizens" and include them in its deliberations, writes Olaf Cramme for Open Democracy.

The 17 September article states that the Reform Treaty's changes in favour of more democracy and subsidiarity are "a step in the right direction", but will not generate more enthusiasm for the EU – and so decisions on issues such as the single market, social Europe, competition rules and the EU's role in a multi-polar world thus need a "stronger political underpinning".

Cramme fears that once agreement on the new treaty has been reached, supporters of integration "will go back to sleep" and Brussels will "restart its autopilot" and concentrate on "nonsense" issues such as imports of Chinese light bulbs and the European Institute of Technology.

This would be "detrimental" to integration, he believes, as for too long the EU has been in a "technocratic bubble". This notion allows national politicians to "underplay the increasing influence of Brussels", and thus, intentionally or otherwise, nurture feelings of Euroscepticism, despite the "profound economic and social impact on our societies" of EU decisions.

Cramme claims that there is a "chasm" between policies and politics at EU level, while the opposite is happening nationally – and that only a few leaders such as French president Nicolas Sarkozy realise this.

My comment: Wait a minute- the import of light bulbs from China is IMPORTANT! As it's a European company that produces them and another European company that lobbied the higher import taxes. And thus prevented the poorer countries like mine to go green. Because the price of one fucking bulb is 9 euros and those are half mine pocket money for a week! But I agree that visions should come first if we want a strong and flourishing EU.

Europe: The empire of emptiness

The political crisis in Belgium, the deterioration of the relationship between France and Germany and the EU-Russia crisis raise a number of questions:

  • Has the time finally come for the EU and its member states to adress existential issues?

  • Does the EU-27 still need the Franco-German engine as its motor?

  • Are we entering a period of competition between projects: eastward glances versus the Euro-Mediterranean dream?

The EU-Africa relationship is characterised by a lack of values and projects as well, the author adds. The next EU-Africa summit in Lisbon on 8 and 9 December 2007 is being prepared without any conviction, he notes.

Despite the fact that many Europeans are waiting impatiently for the end of US President George W. Bush's mandate, this will not suddenly provide miraculous solutions to the issues of security, global terrorism and sharing western values, Lesueur says.

The Reform Treaty is a "relatively small step" in the EU’s institutional development, marking "neither a major development" nor a "substantial change of direction" in that process, writes Brendan Donnelly of the Federal Union. source

Deliberative democracy can help EU address democratic deficit

Consulting elites offers deliberation but without political equality, whereas consulting the people offers political equality but without deliberation, writes James Fishkin of Stanford University for the Tomorrow's Europe project.

Fishkin advocates the "deliberative poll", dating from ancient Athens and involving the election of a random microcosm of citizens chosen by lot, a "discussion group", as a way of addressing this deficit.

This system embodies deliberation through carefully-balanced background materials, moderated small group discussions and plenary sessions which answer the groups' questions, and culminates in a confidential questionnaire, the results of which are compared to poll results at the beginning of the process, the author explains.

Fishkin highlights three fundamental problems addressed by the deliberative poll:

  • Rational ignorance: Voters believe that as their vote is only one of millions, it will not count for much.

  • Non-attitudes / phantom opinions: People who have not thought about an issue do not want to admit it, so instead they randomly choose an option, or react to sound bites or headlines.

  • People who are interested in politics tend to talk to people, and consult media, who they agree with.

He claims that the deliberative poll solves these problems by:

  • Each person knows that his/her vote counts as they are one in fifteen or so in a discussion group, giving people reason to be informed and solving the rational ignorance issue.

  • It replaces non-attitudes with considered, transparent judgements, formed in the small groups from balanced materials, accurate information, and expert opinion.

  • The composition of the groups exposes participants to different points of view.

Fishkin concludes by stating that "we need to experiment with different modes of democratic consultation and use social science to ensure that processes are balanced and representative".

Only by "experimentation" can the dilemma of deliberative but unequal elite processes versus equal but not deliberative plebiscitary processes be surmounted, he adds.


My comment: Interesting idea, I'd really like participating in such discussion group. And people really should feel involved, to know they are important, that they are the one that choose the ruling body.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Important Links

Research Directorate-Generale


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The face of the corruption

I'm offering you to articles with my comments on them, which shows the level of corruption in EU. Ok, not to use that bad word, let's just call it, the level of lobbying. Enjoy!

EU faces legal challenge over extension of Chinese light bulb duties

EU ministers have approved a Commission decision to extend anti-dumping duties on imports of energy-saving light bulbs from China, despite protests from environmentalists and a number of leading European companies.

Foreign ministers gave the green light to a Commission proposal to prolong for one more year anti-dumping tariffs of up to 66% that have been imposed on bulbs originating in China, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam since 2001. /that means we pay 66% more for a light-bulb than we should! Wanna know why?/

The decision followed an investigation carried out by the Commission, which found that it is in the interest of the Community to retain the measures in order to allow companies to adjust to changing market conditions. /Erm, whose interest?/

Germany's national light-bulb manufacturer Osram, in particular, had been complaining that low-cost imports from China would cause large job losses in the EU's largest economy./yeah, what's wrong with paying 8-9e for a bulb?My salary would be 200e, it's absolutely not a problem to buy a bulb. One every year./

However, a number of European companies, including Dutch electronics group Philips and Swedish retailer Ikea, who import large quantities of power-saving bulbs from China, have criticised the move. And an Italian lighting firm, Targetti Sankey, has announced that it would be challenging the Commission's decision in court on the basis that its investigation was flawed.

If it wins its case, not only would the extension be declared void, but importers could also be entitled to "claim back from the EU hundreds of millions of euros in duties paid since 2001", according to Targetti lawyer Maurizio Gambardella.

The Targetti case also has the support of green groups, who insist that the decision is "seriously inconsistent" with EU targets to improve energy efficiency and fight climate change, because it will deter consumers from making a shift to more efficient lamps that could save 23 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

However, many EU nations saw the issue as a test case for the future of the EU's anti-dumping policy, currently under review , fearing that it could be used as a precedent to give more weight to the interests of companies producing or sourcing goods in countries with cheap labour costs, such as China, than to those whose production is based in Europe. source

My comment: Ok, as you can see for your self, it's all against China. Which is not so bad when we talk about clothes and stuff. But then how can we claim we're going green, if the price of a bulb is that high. And one more thing-is this to protect EU or just Germany. Cuz it looks like the second.

MEPs set to delay CO2 cuts for cars

The European Parliament looks set to award carmakers an extra three years breathing space to implement heavy cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, to the outrage of Green MEPs, who insist that the whole EU climate strategy will be jeopardised if the automobile industry is let off the hook.

A vote in Parliament, on 24 October, is likely to give backing to stricter CO2 targets for vehicle manufacturers but with longer deadlines, according to UK Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, who is in charge of steering the Commission's proposal through Parliament.

"What will go through on Wednesday is a cut to 125 grams by 2015," he said on 19 October, adding: "I know we have a majority for that…Even the Germans, who are lobbying hardest against this legislation, can live with that."

The Commission's original proposal suggested that manufacturers should be made to reduce average car emissions from current levels of 160g/km to 130g/km by 2012 through improvements in vehicle technology alone, and that other players, including tyre makers, fuel suppliers, repairers, drivers and public authorities, should be required to contribute to a further 10g/km reduction.

However, Davies insists that carmakers should bear full responsibility for the cuts and that any complementary measures, such as the use of biofuels, should be "entirely supplementary". On the other hand, he thinks the 2012 deadline is "too early" and would prove "too costly".

Green MEPs have however called on MEPs to be firm on the goals, stressing: "There has been political agreement on this limit value for more than ten years; if we let carmakers off the hook again, the whole EU climate strategy will be jeopardised."

According to an independent study prepared for the Greens group, the car sector would have to reduce its CO2 emissions by 80-100 million tonnes in the next 13 years in order for the EU to meet its overall goal of slashing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020. The report adds that only a 120g/km by 2012 target and a strong follow-up limit value (of maybe 80g/km) in 2020 can achieve that.

On the other hand, a three-year delay would more than halve the expected benefits of the proposals, it claims. source

My comment: WTF??? They planned to include the air companies in the count and now they are stepping back. Can you believe it. No, seriously, can you?I hope someone scold those MEPs really badly, cuz they deserve it. They should take care of our interests and now of the car-producers. Too costly! Like they won't put it on the buyers shoulders anyway. Just fuck off.

Biofuel subsidies, illegal fisheries and the fight with the pesticides

EU cuts back on biofuel crop subsidies

A special farm aid scheme aimed at developing Europe's energy crop sector will be scaled back, after it emerged that farmers have already massively shifted production towards biofuels, overshooting a two million hectare target, the Commission has announced.

The amount of land for which farmers may receive a subsidy of €45 per hectare (ha) in exchange for planting energy crops (such as rapeseed or sugar beet that can be processed into biofuels for cars or biomass for heating or electricity) will be reduced after the scheme proved too popular, the Commission said on 17 October.

The programme was introduced in 2004 as part of the reformed Common Agricultural Policy, in order to stimulate the European biofuels sector. At the time, just 0.31 million hectares were devoted to biofuel crops and the Commission hoped to raise this to 2.0 million hectares in 2007. But with applications already reaching 2.84 million hectares this year, the EU's €90 million budget is unable to cope.

The rush towards biofuels is also blamed for overstretching the EU's land availability and causing sharp price increases in basic food commodities such as milk and cereals However, the Commission insists that its biofuels policy will only put limited pressure on agricultural markets. source

My comment:Hell, yeah, they should cut those subsidies. Once the market is established, there is no need to stimulate it further and we still can't eat rapeseed! And I'm little bit concerned of possible import of G.Mo. rapeseed from USA, because these are one of the most modified seeds. I hope that never happen. Cuz once the contamination has started it would be so hard to stop it.

EU states face legal action over energy efficiency delays

The Commission has launched infringement proceedings against 12 member states for failing to deliver action plans on energy efficiency. France and Latvia face separate legal action over their failure to introduce legislation on buildings efficiency.

Energy efficiency improvements, particularly in buildings, are considered to be a cornerstone of EU efforts to fight climate change, and the EU has developed a series of legislative and other measures designed to reduce the amount of energy required to produce one unit of GDP growth.

These include a directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services, which requires member states to draw up, by 30 June 2007, national action plans (NAPs) to achieve annual energy savings of 1% in the retail, supply and distribution of electricity, natural gas, urban heating and other energy products, including transport fuels.

But to date, only 15 member states have submitted their plans to the Commission, leading MEPs in Parliament's Industry Committee to conclude that EU countries have largely failed to realise their own commitments to reduce energy consumption (EurActiv 04/10/07).

The member states concerned are Belgium, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden.source

My comment:No, just check out the countries! Isn't it ironic?Go, Alanis! I hope they make them pay and pay a lot! Because the fight with the Global Warming, can't be just in words, there should be working actions also!

EU to close market to illegal fisheries

The Commission has proposed tough measures to combat pirate fishing and thus protect fragile ecosystems in the high seas. Under the proposed new system, EU vessels would need to ask for permission to fish in waters not governed by international rules and importers would need to prove that their products are not a result of illegal action.

The Commission proposed, on 17 October 2007, a new strategy to strengthen the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

"We propose an innovative scheme that will require fishermen to obtain a special permit to operate in the find areas of the high seas. The member state concerned will deliver such permits only for areas that do not contain fragile ecosystems," he added. These fragile habitats include cold-water corals, hydrothermal vents, sea mounts and deep sea sponge beds, which are seriously damaged by practices such as bottom trawlingexternal .

The EU executive also proposes a specific blacklisting mechanism to ensure that third countries' vessels respect the marine environment. The aim is to identify those countries which carry out IUU and ban trade with them. source

My comment: I hope it works!

Parliament preparing for pesticide battle

The European Parliament will vote tomorrow (23 October) on a proposal to tighten pesticide usage and authorisation rules in Europe, as concerns grow over the impact of 'plant protection products'. But farmers and pesticide producers have expressed concern that the measures will lead to more red tape and remove harmless substances from the market.

The pesticides package presented by the Commission in July 2006 proposes a regulation to update a 1991 directive on the market authorisation of plant protection products (pesticides), and a directive that covers the day-to-day use of pesticides.

Despite the controversies surrounding the dossier, most parties seem to agree on the need for an EU-wide system for the authorisation of substances used in pesticides, given the complications involved in having 27 different authorisation regimes.

The regulation outlines a widely-endorsed two-step system, whereby a 'positive list of active substances' (ingredients used in the production of pesticides) is established at European level. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and a committee of experts from the member states are to provide scientific guidance.

Once the list is established, it will be up to member states to then authorise the production of individual pesticides using the approved substances.

At issue in the debate is the criteria for approving substances and the kinds of substances banned from authorisation. MEPs in the ENVI Committee want to add potentially neurotoxic and immunotixic pesticides to the Commission's proposed list of banned substances on the basis of their "intrinsic" risk to humans. source

My comment: I think there should be very severe requirements to new products. Not because i'm anti-innovative, but because humans are not lab. mice and we can't experiment with our health. I say make it 10 years of approval period and then decide if it's good or bad. But then, I see very strong lobby from the other side of the void. Bad. Very bad.

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