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

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.

Monday, October 22, 2007

EU treaty

As you maybe already know, the new EU treaty was signed by the ministers of EU countries and now it's up to every member's government to ratify the new contract! Yay for our new constitution, let's hope this time it all finish well.

I'm offering you a resume of what countries think about the new EU treaty ( taken from different articles for them in EuroAktiv)


Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he was '95-98%' confident that the EU will come to an agreement on the proposed Reform Treaty following a meeting with French President Nicholas Sarkozy, just days ahead of the summit that is set to seal the final accord.

In an attempt to iron out possible last-minute objections to the new EU Reform Treaty - which was unveiled by legal experts last week - French President Nicholas Sarkozy met his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski on 8 October in Paris.

Remaining worries include Poland's demand to include the so-called Ioannina compromise in the new EU Treaty text, which is currently not included in the draft, but should figure in a separate text. The Ioannina compromise is a complex system which allows EU decisions to be delayed if a number of member states have grave concerns, even if they do not constitute a blocking minority.


My comment: It sounds ok to be able to delay a decision if you're really pissed by it, but still, I think that the better solution is to delay it say a week and then the decision to pass and you to have the choice to block it in your country for say 3 months. Because otherwise there won't be even one decision made by this parliament. I mean it's not easy to make everyone happy in 27 countries.


Frans Timmermans, Dutch Minister for EU Affairs, is confident that Parliament will support the government's decision to avoid a referendum on the new EU treaty. But at the same time, he concedes that more needs to be done to gain the support of the Dutch public, which he says is currently "quite low".

"I think there is by-and-large support for the amendments to the Constitutional Treaty. There is a general feeling that we have negotiated well, and what came out is better for us," Timmermans said.

But he is also quick to point out that Europe still has work to do if it wants to win over the hearts and minds of the Dutch people, especially after the shock caused by the rejection of the proposed EU Constitution in a referendum in 2005.

"We have to work on public support for Europe, because it is quite low right now," he said.

Timmermans further suggests that the 2004 'big bang' enlargement came at a high political price in terms of public perception of Europe. "In the old member states the enlargement went often too fast for them to keep pace with developments. This also played its role in the referendum campaigns in France and the Netherlands."

"I also believe that globalisation is coming at us with such a speed and such a force that people see Europe as part of the problem rather than part of the solution."


My comment: Well, yeah :) The globalisation comes at high speed and it will become even higher. I mean, face it, the world today is much faster than the one 10 years ago. And anyway, the enlargement had to become a fact. Probably if the governments did some work along with the media to popularize it instead of just picking up their noses people won't feel so fucked up. But it's easier to blame it one EU than to admit to your people that it's not the emigrants that are guilty for the lack of work or whatever but the government that didn't come up with a way to stimulate the business and ensure economical growth.

The Dutch government has ruled out holding a popular vote on the EU's 'Reform Treaty', in order to avert a rerun of the referendum in which Dutch citizens rejected the European Constitution two years ago. However, opposition parties could still oppose the decision in Parliament.

He added: "If the Netherlands would vote 'No' again, what would happen?...You shouldn't take new negotiations for granted." 

The 'normal' procedure, would likely see the Treaty approved as a majority of Parliamentarians are in favour of ratification.

However, the June 2005 scenario, in which 61.8% of Dutch voters rejected the EU's Constitution, sending EU leaders back to the drawing board, could still be repeated. 

Indeed, the Parliament could still demand that a referendum be organised – just as it did the last time. And three opposition parties, including two pro-EU ones (the Greens and the left-liberal D66) and one that is strongly Eurosceptic (Socialist), have already said they plan to propose an own-initiative bill demanding just that. 


United Kindgom

9 October 2007

While Gordon Brown insists that the Reform Treaty should be ratified by Parliament and that it will safeguard Britain's essential 'red lines', such as the national veto over tax, social security and foreign and defence policy, the eurosceptic lobby is campaigning for a referendum on the Treaty, notes the author. 

One argument of the pro-referendum campaigners is that the government should hold a referendum to honour its promise to do so with the Constitutional Treaty, he says. This argument supposes that both the Constitutional Treaty and Reform Treaty would transfer large competences to the EU, notes Brady.

British trade unions are divided on the issue, he says. Some of them ask for a referendum because they believe that opt-outs, in particular the one on the Charter of Fundamental Rights, will hold. Others because they consider that the government's position on the Charter of Fundamental Rights means that UK citizens are being denied the social rights and protections from which other Europeans benefit. 


My comment: If I lived in UK and heard they opted-out of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (you can find a copy here- good stuff btw), I['d be really really scared! I mean, why, why do they want to opt out? Anyone? Scary, indeed, O'Neel!But I liked the part "if we say no, and the other countries say yes, they can just leave us out of the EU":) Oh, yeah!

EU treaty, poland, netherlands, uk

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Few small ones: telemedecine and researchers visas

Commission opens consultation on telemedicine

The Commission has called for experts to share their views on telemedicine as part of policy proposals on innovative technologies for chronic disease management due next year.

According to the Commission, telemedicineexternal , which refers to the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) for the delivery of health care, "appears to be a very promising tool to support the remote monitoring and management of chronically ill patients."

The Commission is thus inviting experts to share their experience and give concrete examples of their main achievements in the field. Experts are encouraged to detail their reasons - geographical, skills shortages or the need for complementary expertise - for the development of telemedicine solutions as well as the perceived impact of their activities. read more
My comment:sounds fun. And it's better than waiting for 3 hours before being admitted to your GP just so that he/she can tell you-you're fine.

Member states still hesitant to welcome foreign researchers

Only Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Portugal and Romania have implemented the researchers' visa directive before the deadline. The other 19 member states could now be taken to the European Court of Justice for failing to grant third-country nationals entry to their territory to carry out scientific research.

If Europe is to be a world leader in science, then it must be open to the world. The current system can be off-putting for scientists from abroad," said Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik, deploring the fact that member states had not yet "honoured their commitments".

The directive sets out a specific procedure for allowing third-country nationals into the EU for the purposes of carrying out scientific research - the so-called researchers' visa.

The Commission is now entitled to open infringement proceedings against the 19 member states who have failed to implement the necessary laws, regulations and administrative provisions to fully implement the directive.

The researchers' visa directive is part of a larger 'researchers' package', adopted by the Council in Autumn 2005, to attract foreign researchers to the EU. In addition to the directive on visas, it included two recommendations on facilitating the admission of third-country scientists to the EU in order to carry out research and issuing uniform short-stay visas allowing them to travel within the Union. The recommendations took effect immediately after adoption.

Supporting the mobility of researchers is one of the instruments for achieving the Lisbon objectives and a prerequisite for the process of building a true European Research Area (ERA).


My comment: A great initiative, indeed. But I'm not sure what's the good of it-even now of-EU researchers work easily enough in the EU. In science it's not the visas the problem, but the money.

EU unveils plans to boost hydrogen use in cars

The Commission has proposed simplifying market approval for hydrogen-powered cars and support research with €470 million over the next six years. However, Brussels admits that the technology will have little impact for 10-15 years.

Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) - part of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) - are set to be long-term public-private partnerships on strategic-research areas, combining private-sector investment with national and European public funding.

In June 2005, the Commission external six areas in which JTIs could be established. These are: innovative medicines, embedded computing systems, aeronautics and air transport, hydrogen and fuel cells, nanoelectronics technologies 2020, and global monitoring for environment and security.

Official proposals have so far been tabled on innovative medicines (IMI), embedded computing systems (ARTEMIS), nano-electronics technologies (ENIAC) and aeronautics and air transport (CLEAN SKY).

The Commission adopted, on 10 October 2007, its first 'hydrogen package'. This includes a proposal for a regulation to simplify the market approval of hydrogen cars and a proposal for a regulation setting up the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (JTI).

The proposal to simplify market approval for hydrogen cars is "an example of a regulation that stimulates innovation by providing for a clear framework and the necessary stability for industry," said Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. "The hydrogen JTI is a prime example of the sort of tools available to us as we develop our energy policy," he added.

However, Commissioner Günter Verheugen said that, even though it presents a promising technological option, he was "not convinced that the hydrogen car will be the car of the future" but thought it was important to give this technology a opportunity to prove whether it will work.
"I don't know whether it will work some day. In any case it is sure that the technology will have no impact in the next 10-15 years."

Verheugen also said that one needs to ensure that the production of hydrogen does not itself lead to an increase in CO2 emissions. "Hydrogen technology for vehicles is only viable in so far as we guarantee that he hydrogen itself is not obtained from fossil energy sources," he said, adding that it could be produced by nuclear power as the "EU does not have anti-nuclear policy".

The hydrogen JTI will get €470 from the budget of the FP7 over the next six years and the industry has committed to matching at least the same amount.

Report on environmental problems in EU

Europe's environment: 'major concerns remain', says EEA report

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has released its fourth assessment report on the environmental situation in 53 European countries, highlighting significant air pollution, biodiversity loss and poor water quality across the region.

The EEA's fourth assessment report provides an overview of the environmental progress made by the pan-European region - stretching from Western Europe across the Balkans and Eastern Europe to Central Asia - over the last five to seven years.

The report points to the environmental impact of agriculture, transport, energy and other economic activities, adding that "consumption and production also place an increasing demand on natural resources, putting our environment at further risk", the EEA said in a press statement.

  • Deadly air

Among the most alarming findings in the report is the observation that air pollution likely reduces the life expectancy of Western and Central Europeans by almost one year. In addition, heightened economic activity in the EU's wider neighbourhood, including Central Asia and the Caucasus region, has led to a 10% increase in air pollution since 2000, the EEA said.

Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and Hungary feature among EU countries cited for particularly poor air quality levels.

  • Thirst for clean water

Access to safe drinking water is a problem in many parts of the region, especially in rural areas. "More than 100 million people in the pan-European region still do not have access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation", the report says. Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of droughts, the EEA warns.

  • Departing species

Biodiversity loss is cited as a major concern in the report. "700 European species are currently under threat", according to the EEA, and "the general biodiversity trend on agricultural land is negative despite agricultural policies being increasingly geared towards biodiversity conservation", it said.

  • Troubled waters

The EEA points to a wide-ranging set of problems faced by Europe's oceans, inland waters and coastal environments. They include over-fishing, eutrophication (particularly from agricultural run-offs), pollution, oil spills and regular discharges from vessels, population densities and ecosystem collapses.

Climate change is expected to exacerbate all of these problems by causing "large scale alterations in sea temperature, sea level, sea-ice cover, currents and the chemical properties of the seas", the report says.

In addition to recommending an integrated, "eco-system based" approach rather than a number of fragmented policies, the EEA recommends that "adaptation policies should include measures to reduce non-climatic impacts in order to increase the resilience of marine ecosystems and the coastal zone to climate change".

The Commission appears to have taken this advice into consideration as part of its new integrated maritime policy, announced on 10 October (EurActiv 11/10/07).

  • More communication needed

Better implementation of environmental policies and increased information flows are presented as key recommendations. "A shared environmental information system is also urgently required to deal with a prevailing lack of reliable, accessible and comparable environmental information across the region", the organisation said.


My comment: And now that we know, what? And maybe that's not the right question, because they accept all kind of plans and strategies that are never meant to happen. Yes, under the pressure of the Green in the bigger countries they somewhat follow the strategies, but in the smaller countries like mine, no one cares. I don't like that!But at least it's good that someone hears these reports.

Pesticides and air quality fights in EU

Pesticides: groups raise pressure ahead of EP vote

Industry and farm groups are on the defensive as environmental NGOs engaged in a targeted publicity campaign in Parliament yesterday (10 October) to muster support for an upcoming vote on tougher rules for pesticide use in the EU.
On 12 September, Parliament's Environment (ENVI) Committee voted to tighten a number of aspects of the Commission's proposed regulation on pesticide authorisation, following an earlier vote by the committee in favour of strict pesticide usage restrictions and reduction targets .
Pesticide producers and users, notably farmers, are concerned that Parliament's stance on the Commission's pesticides strategy is heavy-handed and will lead to "the disappearance of many substances that have long been used safely by farmers and which farmers need to protect their crops from disease".
As part of their campaign, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe and Friends of the Earth (FoE) Netherlands publicly tested a number of fruits obtained in a Parliament supermarket for pesticide residues.
The group found residues of 28 substances in their samples, all of which "have known or suspected links with negative impacts on human health", the groups said. Residue levels found in some of the fruits, notably oranges, grapes and apricots, exceeded the EU's legal limits, or Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs), according to their press statement.
A spokesperson for the groups called the findings "a total indictment of food products on sale in the EU".
My comment: Isn't it funny how everything in EU goes around farmers? Sometimes I think this is an farmers' association. I mean, of course, the measures should be reasonable, but somehow I prefer eating really organic and clean food. Go figure why...

EU law-makers call for delay in air quality standards

A vote in Parliament's environment committee in favour of more stringent air quality limits(9 October) and more flexible implementation delays looks set to send the law-making body on a collision course with Council before the end of the year.
According to the Commission, 370,000 people in Europe die prematurely every year from diseases linked to air pollution - 350,000 of them because of atmospheric microparticles or dust of a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, known as Particulate Matter (PM2.5), which originate from transportation activities (cars, ships and planes), agriculture and small industrial plants. Despite this worrying statistic, MEPs and member states remain divided over by how much and how quickly the EU should improve its air quality and there is some speculation that a deal on a future EU Air Quality Directive, currently in the second-reading phase, may require Parliament and Council to go through a special conciliation procedure.
The main elements of Parliament's second-reading recommendation are:

  • The introduction, in 2010, of a non-binding target value of 20 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) for PM2.5 (the finest particles, which do the most damage to people's lungs). This target, which is lower than the Council's proposed 25µg/m3, would then become a binding limit value as of 2015;
  • the reduction of maximum concentration levels of larger particles, known as PM10, to an annual average of 33µg/m3, rather than leaving them unchanged at 40µg/m3, as suggested in the Council's common position;
  • the possibility of postponing attainment of limit values, not only for PM10 as suggested by the Council, but also for all other pollutants, for up to five years.

The report adopted by the environment committee argues that short-term action should instead be achieved by binding measures to reduce atmospheric pollution from the source, and calls on the Commission to adopt legislation on cutting particulate matter emissions from domestic heating equipment, farming and motor vehicles, including boats and aircraft within two years of the entry into force of the directive.

My comment: Good, let's see it done!

Welcome to my European Dream

This is my third blog on Blogger and I'm happy to say it's on my favorite subject- Europe.

For me European Union is one of the most beautiful dreams human-kind had. It's a Union based on mutual profit and will for better World.
I know the people from older EU countries or outside Europe may fail to find the beauty of the idea, but let me explain to you. Bulgaria joined EU on 01.01.2007. I lived in the time before and I live now. To say things in Bulgaria changed dramatically is simply not truth. And I don't expect it to happen quickly and furiously. But entering the EU after all those years of isolation and ignorance brings tears to my eyes. Because I traveled in Europe before and after and I can see the difference.
Two years ago, I went to a concert in Italy. In a crowded with gypsies bus. Waiting for hours on every boundary. Waited 8 hours on probably Slovenia-Croatia boundary, because one jerk said we're not passing in his shift. So we waited for the next one to continue going home. I've seen the attitude of all kind of officials. Like we're just piece of trash polluting their territory. Checking your passport and trowing it away like...well, like garbage.
And now, you just hand them your id card and you're in. No one cares even to look in your face. Yeah, some still despise us, but the over-all behavior is of respect.
Because now we're all citizen of something bigger than our national and self egos. Now, we're bigger than the hatred accumulated trough out the centuries. Bigger than our little selves. Big enough, to accept the others for the sake of peace and comfort and profit.
No other Union tried to make people together by just one vision. Like an empire, but without the slaves and the guns. The empire of shared dreams.

I know things are never that pink, but I think it's important to believe in our dreams and to put all our creative energy to make them truth. I believe in the European Union for what it is- a place where free people can move freely, talk freely and enjoy their time without the pain of historical defeats and humiliations. Living and loving together.

Because I believe so sincerely, but I'm not that dumb to be blind, here I'm gonna post everything new and important that's happening in our sweet and still somewhat calamitous union. It's hard to create something good and yet working for the mutual and individual benefit. And not forcing anyone do anything. Especially in a continent where people had so many wars.
So, here, I'm gonna make sure this is the case.

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