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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

R&D in Europe, 02. 2010 - biopharma cries out

  1. Sweden claims breakthrough on EU patent impasse
  2. Venture capital drought hurting biopharma SMEs
  3. Experts urge radical shake-up of EU innovation policy
  4. EU chief scientist tipped for 'TV role'
  5. Europe 'could cut emissions by 40%'
Quote of the day:Cute. Unfeasible but cute. At least not the way they describe it - "use public transport, eat less meat" - come on! You can't tell anyone what to eat, just to decrease his/her emissions. That's nonsense. But I think that it's absolutely realistic to reach for such cuts, because the technology changes every year and now that the trend is towards more efficient appliances, the producers will do just that - make them efficient. And that's half of the battle.

Sweden claims breakthrough on EU patent impasse

4 December 2009

Business groups hailed a landmark political deal in Brussels on Friday (4 December), as EU industry ministers agreed a package of measures which could pave the way for a European Community patent. However, there are concerns that the thorny issue of translation costs has merely been set aside and will be dealt with separately.

Sweden, which holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency, pulled off a major political coup by securing unanimous backing for its plan to establish a single EU patent and a European patent court.

The deal should help slash the cost of protecting new innovations in Europe, something small businesses have been particularly vexed by in recent years.

The cost of filing and protecting patents in Europe is substantially higher than in the US and Japan, and business organisations have consistently complained about the fragmented and inconsistent decisions handed down by European courts.

The plans for a single patent court will make litigation cheaper and more predictable, diplomatic sources said. The court will include local and central chambers under a common European appeal court. In the initial stages, companies will be able to continue to use national courts, allowing confidence in the new system to build up gradually.

A common understanding has also been reached on renewal fees and the cooperation between patent offices.

Another perennial bugbear for innovative businesses has been the high cost of translating patents into all European languages. This has been a major factor in making it more expensive to protect new technologies in Europe.

The new agreement stopped short of resolving this issue, deciding instead that a proposed new patent regulation should be accompanied by a separate regulation on translation arrangements. source

My comment: I'm not sure if this deserves commenting sine it's so old. But I'm getting tired of this epic battle for the European patents. I mean, what's so complicated to do. It's not like little countries file a lot of patents. The issue should be solved among the biggest members, in a way that won't harm the interests of the little countries and that's it. Because, if we have to be honest, most companies currently file their patents in USA, because of the ease of the process. In this case, Europe has nothing to lose (or at least so it appears). In which case, anything we do, will be better than the current situation. And probably the easiest way to do it with a single default language of patent applications - English, with the option to translate the patent to all other languages after the patent is granted. That seems fair to me and when you file in the USA, you use English anyway. And what's more, let's be realistic - most of those patents go for corporation. So, their cries for cutting red-tape are simply ridiculous.

Venture capital drought hurting biopharma SMEs

3 December 2009

Europe's biopharmaceutical sector is under severe pressure due to the reluctance of investors to gamble on high-risk drug development projects, according to a new report sponsored by the EU.

Research-intensive companies have been hardest hit since the financial crisis began, with venture capitalises shying away from niche biopharma firms that can spend up to 15 years working for a breakthrough that might spawn new medicines.

The report, presented at a meeting of policymakers, industry leaders and financiers in Brussels this week (1 December), calls for a new European Biopharmaceutical Innovation Fund to keep the sector afloat.

SMEs across Europe have suffered from the liquidity crisis due to difficulties securing working capital and the ongoing challenge of late payments. However, the impact of decreasing venture capital funding will not be felt for a decade.

The study says investors are now looking for lower risk/reward ratios at a time when 40% of SMEs in the biopharma industry say they will need access to capital within the next 12 months.

It recommends offering tax concessions and developing co-investment mechanisms at EU and national level to stimulate investment. Identifying and disseminating best practice in technology transfer and commercialisation could also help boost the sector, according to the report.

Quicker approval for new medicines developed by young companies could also help accelerate the timeframe for business angels to get a return on their investment.


My comment: I'm not entirely sure, what exactly SMEs have to do with pharmaceutics. I mean, how much new drugs are developed by small companies, statistically? And I don't include the "new" companies, since there's nothing easier for a big company than to set up a new one. So, the question isn't so much about SMEs and how affected they would be. This word becomes like a mantra, but in the case, I believe they use it incorrectly. It's all about big companies here, even if they call about venture capital and so on. Maybe I'm wrong, I'm very far away from this sector, but I simply cannot imagine a small company developing a new drug for 15 years using venture capital. Maybe they were some such cases, but it all seems too unrealistic. So, let's ask in that case, what the hell means "quicker approval" for new companies. Isn't approval somehow related to the safety and efficiency of the new drug. Because I'm under such impression. Since when we sacrifice our health for better commercialization of a product? Obviously we do it, already, but it shouldn't be like that. If you want to help research, then help independent research at universities and institutes. I have no idea when this became a dirty idea. We can't follow USA on every step, we have to set our own path and follow it. I hope we do it with science, at least.

Experts urge radical shake-up of EU innovation policy

9 December 2009

Five panels of experts have issued a joint policy paper demanding major changes to Europe's innovation policy just weeks before the EU's first commissioner for research and innovation is due to take office.

Members of five advisory groups are urging the EU to "radically improve" long-term planning as part of a major rethink of the way it organises research and innovation. At a seminar in the European Parliament, hosted by Science|Business, experts highlighted five key areas where there is consensus on how to overhaul R&D infrastructure.

They want EU funding programmes steered towards research focused on the "great social challenges" Europe is facing, including climate change, alternative energy, healthcare for an ageing population, security and cohesion policy.

New networks, institutions and policies for "open innovation" will also be required, along with greater efforts to encourage mobility of researchers and introduce an EU-wide patent system.

The expert panels - four of which were originally appointed by the EU executive, with the other an independent group - say governments must step up investment in higher education, research and innovation, especially in times of fiscal austerity.

More joined-up thinking and coordination between research programmes, and between Brussels and national governments, will be needed to streamline the bureaucratic funding system, the groups said.

Finally, the consensus statement calls for open competition in European programmes in order to raise standards across the Union.

Progress is already promised in several of the areas highlighted by the five expert panels – all of which have published their advice separately prior to joining forces this week. source

My comment: Yeah, like we don't know that, already. Money is the key, and the money are in the governments. I somehow start hating the so called priorities, because people do include them in their projects, but in superficial way. So, they get the money, do the research they wanted to do, and just add the keyword for beauty. This won't make sense on the long run and some of the priorities are really really important. So maybe this part of the system should be changed too, like by creating excellence institutes dedicated to certain priority around Europe. That might not only coordinate, but also stimulate the work on the priorities, not around them. And of course, you can't limit science only to those priorities, because there is much more to gain from other fields. There must be balance between "current priorities" and "fundamental priorities". I don't say there isn't such balance, I think there is, but I think currently this balance is more a side-effect from the size and diversity of Europe, than a goal.

EU chief scientist tipped for 'TV role'

9 December 2009

Leading figures in European science policymaking are at odds over whether the proposed Chief Scientific Advisor should be an in-house advisor to the president of the EU executive, or an independent frontman for science.

John Wood, who chairs the European Research Area Board (ERAB) – which proposed the creation of a Chief Scientific Advisor – sees the role as a public advocate on scientific issues.

He says the advisor should be independent-minded and feel free to give evidence-based advice. It should be a person who can go on television during times of crisis, such as a pandemic, and help communicate on scientific matters in a way that engages the public and allays fears.

"The Chief Scientist for Europe should be someone who speaks for science – someone who goes on TV during a crisis," he said.

This follows the model of UK scientific advisors, who have been known to lock horns with government agencies on matters of science policy. The US takes a similar approach, with President Barack Obama appointing a panel of high-calibre advisors from a range of disciplines. The head of the team is based in the US president's executive office.

However, there appears to be a major gulf between this Anglo-Saxon model and what might be envisaged by Brussels. High-level science policymakers in the EU institutions view the role less as an independent voice of science, and more as a scientifically-savvy confidante of European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

Portuguese MEP Maria da Graça Carvalho, formerly an advisor on scientific and innovation issues to Barroso, said the president was putting knowledge at the centre of the EU's agenda and the Chief Scientific Advisor would play a role in this.

She compared the proposed role of a scientific advisor with that of a political advisor, saying the new position would be given to someone who can offer evidence-based policies on scientific issues ranging from health to climate change.

Announcing his plan to create the new position, Barroso himself said the advisor would have the power "to deliver proactive, scientific advice throughout all stages of policy development and delivery".

Whether this turns out to be closer to Carvalho's expectations or Wood's definition remains to be seen. source

My comment: I would also like to see this advisor to speak for the science and to fight for it, on any ground possible, but that's just the romantic me. But science in Europe definitely needs a defendant, so I hope I won't be too disappointed.

Europe 'could cut emissions by 40%'

2 December 2009

The EU could double its 2020 target for cutting greenhouse gases at a daily cost of €2 per person, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), a research group, said yesterday (1 December).

Slashing emissions 40% below 1990 levels in 2020 and 90% by 2050 would be possible with radical changes to how Europeans use energy, a new study showed. This would be technically feasible without international offsetting schemes or resorting to carbon capture and storage (CCS), it said.

The researchers mapped out a pathway that foresees a quick phase-out of fossil fuels, combined with a major shift to renewable energy. It would make up 22% of the energy mix in 2020 and 71% in 2050.

Energy efficiency would improve massively, according to the study's outline: in 2020, Europe would use around 22% less energy than in 2010, and 70% less in 2050.

The study was released ahead of the start of the Copenhagen climate negotiations, with the EU having said it will raise its 20% carbon reduction target to 30% if other developed countries make comparable pledges. Whether the EU is ready to take such a step will now depend on the US and China (EurActiv 24/11/09).

The changes must be accompanied by a less materialistic society, where major lifestyle changes would lead Europeans to embrace public transport and eat less meat, the authors argue.

They paint a picture whereby journeys made by car would be reduced from 75% in 2005 to 69% in 2020. High-speed rail would replace intra-European flights. Moreover, big developments in the transport sector would include an increased share of electrified cars from 2020 onwards, with virtually all vehicles running on electricity in 2050.

The study estimates that Europe would have to pay around €2 trillion over the next decade to realise this scenario, equivalent to about 2% of Europe's GDP over the same period. But the authors say this is a small price to pay for equitable growth in the future, because it would only require temporarily holding back any GDP growth for one year. source

My comment: Cute. Unfeasible but cute. At least not the way they describe it - "use public transport, eat less meat" - come on! You can't tell anyone what to eat, just to decrease his/her emissions. That's nonsense. But I think that it's absolutely realistic to reach for such cuts, because the technology changes every year and now that the trend is towards more efficient appliances, the producers will do just that - make them efficient. And that's half of the battle. The other half is for insulating the homes, which will be harder, but in colder countries, that happens naturally, because of the cold. It happens even in Bulgaria, which isn't generally very cold. But the electricity bills go higher and higher, so people do anything possible to be "green" and warm. And with the new, idiotic rules for air traveling, I think many people will rather use other ways to travel. I mean - being stripped and touched - thank you, but NO! So, I'm really optimistic about those emissions, as long as there is political will, they will happen. We just have to be persistent on this. And meat won't matter :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Energy in Europe, 02, 2010 - China to out-smart us

  1. EU reaches antitrust settlement with GDF Suez
  2. Court rules against Russia in Yukos case
  3. Power firms want funding model for smart grids
  4. Power firms want flexibility on EU air pollution law
  5. China flies past EU, US on new wind turbines
  6. Eni offers to sell pipelines to settle EU probe
Quote of the day: I think that Europe should be very careful about climate deals, because while China stalls, it invest heavily into renewable and sooner or later, they will say "We are the top producers of the world and we are green. Now it's your turn.". And because we're so big in words and so modest in actions, we'll have to pay to China, because we never did what we promised.

EU reaches antitrust settlement with GDF Suez

4 December 2009
European Union regulators accepted on Thursday (3 December) proposals by French utility GDF Suez to settle antitrust charges and give rivals easier access to the French gas market.

GDF Suez is the third energy firm, after Germany's E.ON and RWE, to settle with the European Commission after the EU executive charged them with abusing a dominant position and restricting rivals' access to networks. European regulators have battled hard to open the energy market. EU countries reached a deal in March that will beef up regulatory power over giant utilities and protect consumers' rights.

"The remedies offered by GDF Suez provide a real opportunity for competitors to enter the French gas market and so offer energy consumers greater choice of gas supplier and more competitive prices," EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

As part of the legally binding commitments, the company agreed to release rapidly a large share of its long-term reservations of gas import capacity into France, equal to about 10 percent of the total long-term import capacity.

It will continue to cut its share of those reservations to below 50% by 1 October 2014. GDF Suez was not ordered to sell off any assets, unlike E.ON and RWE, because doing so would not have resolved the competition problem, the Commission said.

The Commission had in July fined GDF Suez and E.ON a total 1.1 billion euros ($1.7 billion) for agreeing not to compete against each other in their respective gas markets, the first antitrust penalty for a utility in the 27-country EU.

The companies have denied any wrongdoing and said they would appeal. source

My comment: Nice! And good. Though I'm not sure what "release rapidly" means if not "sell". But I like this, because I have already posted here about the problems and monopoly issues in France's energy market. This I guess is a good start.

Court rules against Russia in Yukos case

1 December 2009

A special international commercial tribunal ruled on 30 November 2009 that the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) is binding on Russia, paving the way for shareholders of the former Yukos company to win the first phase of a compensation claim of up to US$ 100 billion, the claimants said.

The ad-hoc Arbitral Tribunal, sitting in The Hague under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, ruled that the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) is binding on Russia despite the fact that it has not been ratified by the Duma, the winners of the case said in Brussels today (1 December).

Former Yukos subsidiary GML director Tim Osborne and lead counsel Emmanuel Gaillard, head of Shearman & Sterling LLP's international arbitration group, said the majority shareholders of the former the Yukos Oil Company - Hulley Enterprises Ltd. and Yukos Universal Ltd. - two subsidiaries of GML Ltd. and Veteran Petroleum Ltd., the pension fund for the benefit of former Yukos employees, have won the first phase of their compensation claim against the Russian Federation.

As the speakers explained, the proceedings are the largest in international arbitration history, and were initiated by the claimants following what they said was the illegal expropriation by the Russian Federation of their investment in Yukos Oil Company.

No court rulings were made available at the press conference as the legal process was still ongoing, Gaillard explained.

However, he stressed that the decisions have "a huge precedent value" as they go "far beyond the Yukos case," meaning that all EU investments made in Russia up to 19 October 2009 - when Russia's notification of its decision to leave the ECT entered into force, will benefit from ECT protection for 20 more years, until 19 October 2029.

Asked by EurActiv what the estimated timeframe for the future court proceedings is, the speakers explained that similar cases are "not particularly speedy". A "merit phase" during which time Russia can challenge the ruling could take up to three years. A judgement would then be pronounced and an award determined. If Russia does not honour this compensation payment, it will be enforced according to international practice.

However, the speakers said "experience shows that states comply with awards"

The Russian Mission to the EU was unavailable for comment at short notice. source

My comment: Hm. I'm not sure how Russia will agree with this, because these are a hell lot of money. And since I'm not entirely familiar with the whole thing, I won't comment more, but I find it somewhat interesting if an "expropriation" can and will be compensated. Especially when we speak of something so big.

Power firms want funding model for smart grids

30 November 2009

Developing smart grids will require changing the financing model of electricity distribution as current practice is mainly focused on cutting costs, representatives of the industry said last week (26 November).

Demands to cut power costs while investing in smart grids to reduce CO2 make for a difficult business model for electricity distribution system operators (DSOs), a conference organised by electricity industry association Eurelectric heard in Brussels.

Incentives from regulators to DSOs will have to move from rewarding efficiency improvements to sustainability, the speakers agreed.

Smart grids use digital technology, allowing real-time management of networks and bi-directional flows and facilitating the integration of intermittent renewable sources. The first step is smart meters, which give consumers up-to-the-minute information on their energy use.

Europe's electricity networks will require significant upgrades in coming years to adapt to growing demand. Missing the opportunity to digitalise the grids at the same time would be a lost opportunity as the same networks will still be used 50 years from now, the speakers said.

But the electricity industry is worried that it will end up paying for all the investment without receiving reasonable returns (EurActiv 20/05/09).

While the move to intelligent grids will represent nothing short of a revolution in electricity distribution, it is not the immediate priority for the industry. Several managers of DSOs in different EU countries reported that the old logic of investing in efficiency will rule in the next five years, but indicated that their companies would start to invest in the integration of renewables and smart meters in five years after that.

In Spain, the government has set an obligation to roll out smart meters by 2018. Distribution system operators say the estimated €1bn that will have to be invested in the next ten years presents a good opportunity to go all the way, as doubling that would allow the move to smart grids, said Antonio Espinosa de los Monteros of Spanish electricity firm Iberdrola.

But he pointed out that the meters will not come for free to the consumer, who will have to pay around 70% of the rental price. The rest will go to a new way of managing the system, a cost that regulators should bear, he said.

Nevertheless, smart meters will also allow households to play a more active role in the energy sector. This is not only because they will be able to control their own energy consumption, but also because making the electricity grid bi-directional will enable them to sell the energy they produce from renewables on-site back to the grid.

The experts stressed that the next step towards commercialising smart meters will be standardisation, because the technology is already available. source
My comment:I have often said how much I like smart meters, so I like how they discuss them more and more. What I don't like, however, is the immense numbers they put next to them. A smart meter is a consumption monitoring system. It's unfair to combine it with the efficiency requirement of electricity production by building, which is something else. It would be good if this all happens at the same time, but it's not necessary. And it's hard to say who should pay for the new infrastructure. Because home-owners will have to invest into solar panels and probably new electricity wiring, because of them, and ok, the smart-meters themselves. But there is more to that system than the little gadgets in your homes and this is the system outside that will route the electricity in both directions, calculate the price, set priorities and so on. And this should be paid by operators. Otherwise, what happens - people pay for everyone, the operators profit from the investment of other people, because (of course) the whole service of selling and buying won't come free. I don't think this is fair. And of course, there should be another regulation, and it is about the price of electricity. Because currently in Bulgaria, the electricity goes more and more expensive, because people consume less and less. If this continues after the buildings start producing electricity, then the price will sky-rocket and there would absolutely no economical reason for home-owner to invest into such expensive upgrades. More read here.

Power firms want flexibility on EU air pollution law

4 December 2009

The EU's upcoming industrial pollution law on air soil and water must be made flexible enough if the power sector is to deliver genuine results, a group of electricity companies said this week (2 December).

The power firms rallied for support at the European Parliament for a transition period to comply with the forthcoming recast of the Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC), due to be agreed next year.

The European Commission's original proposal, combining seven existing EU air pollution laws, including the IPPC Directive and the Large Combustion Plants Directive, foresaw that all industrial installations would have to apply tighter air pollution limits by 2016.

But EU member states adopted a common position in June that would allow transitional national plans between 2016 and 2020 for combustion plants that fulfil certain criteria.

Representatives of power companies with seats in Eastern Europe and the UK called on the Parliament to support the flexible approach in its second reading of the proposed legislation. However, they would like to extend the derogation until 2023.

If the power industry had to implement the technologies required by the new directive by 2016, then efficiency would suffer, said Vladimir Hlavinka, chief production officer at Czech power utility CEZ.

"We will not be able to do both greening of plants and improving efficiency," he said.

The industry chiefs were also concerned about securing the limited time derogation inserted by member states to avoid early closure of plants. This would allow plants to opt out of compliance with emission limit values between 2016 and 2023 if they operate for less than 20,000 hours during the period.

In Poland, where around 90% of electricity comes from coal-powered stations, the proposal would lead to an "economically ungrounded shutdown of more than 50% of installed capacity," claimed Kazimierz Szynol, director of Jaworzno III power plant owned by PKE SA, one of Poland's largest power companies. He said that the resulting costs would be impossible to pass on to customers as "socially-accepted prices".

But many critical voices have been raised against exemptions from air pollution legislation, which is expected to bring important health and environmental benefits.

Christian Schaible, industry policy officer at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), dismissed the industrialists' argument as a quest for short-sighted profit gains.

"These operators have long neglected to implement Best Available Techniques (BATs) properly. When they ask for a further time extension or run their plants for more than 20, 000 hours under a lax regime, the negative external costs to health, which are 3-10 times higher than the long overdue investment costs to the operators, are left to citizens," he said.

An ardent proponent of strong pollution legislation, German MEP Holger Krahmer (ALDE), who is steering the dossier through the Parliament, advocated the use of binding minimum emission limit values for all sectors as a "European safety net" to avoid a widespread recourse to exemptions (EurActiv 11/03/09). But national capitals rejected the idea (EurActiv 02/03/09). source
My comment: I also agree with the strict limits. It's high time those companies understand time has changed. It's not longer the 90s, they have to act in a responsible manner. Most of those power plants are poisoning the people living near-by. We have such cases in Bulgaria. There is a good technology that can turn them into clean and efficient power plants, but they don't want to invest, because all they care are the short-termed profits. And eventually, in the 2020, they will sell their plants to someone else, who will invest then. Sorry, guys, but that's a no-go. It's clear that it's hard to get those money, that's why the EU should offer green-credits, but only if there are clear (and double-checked) evidences that those plants are upgrading. Otherwise, I don't want my taxpayers money to pay the energy mafia to get even richer. I don't mind rich people, just try to earn by actually doing something for me.

China flies past EU, US on new wind turbines

04 February 2010

The global wind energy market continued to grow last year, driven by a strong push from China, which installed more new turbines than Europe and the US, according to new statistics from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

The global wind energy market grew 31% last year and withstood the economic downturn, GWEC said yesterday (3 February).

A third of new turbines were installed in China, whose 13 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity outstripped Europe (10.5GW) and the US (9.9GW).

China doubled its wind energy capacity in 2009 for the fifth year running, climbing up the top-ten list of the world's biggest wind energy markets. Last year, it overtook Spain on total installed capacity and was outdone only by the US and Germany.

Despite accusations by many Western countries that China hindered an agreement on a new international climate treaty in Copenhagen, the Asian giant continues to develop clean energy to fuel its growing economy.

Spain installed the most new capacity in the EU in 2009, 2.5GW, followed by Germany's 1.9GW. The two traditional wind leaders accounted for 43% of growth, followed by Italy, France and the UK. source

My comment: Not precisely a surprise and I think that Europe should be very careful about climate deals, because while China stalls, it invest heavily into renewable and sooner or later, they will say "We are the top producers of the world and we are green. Now it's your turn.". And because we're so big in words and so modest in actions, we'll have to pay to China, because we never did what we promised. I think this situation will clearly suck!

Eni offers to sell pipelines to settle EU probe

05 February 2010

Italy's Eni has offered to sell its international gas pipelines, worth some 1.5 billion euros, in a move that should help the oil and gas major avoid a hefty antitrust fine and ease regulatory pressure.

Eni is ready to sell its Transitgas and TENP pipelines on the market and sell its TAG pipeline to a public entity, Eni Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said on Thursday (4 February), adding however it will hang on to transport rights in all three assets.

Eni, the world's seventh-biggest listed oil company, has been the object of an EU antitrust probe since 2007 over allegations it restricted rivals' access to the pipelines.

If found to be in violation, the EU could fine Eni a maximum of up to 10% of its previous year's sales. Press reports have spoken of more than 500 million euros.

The European Commission said in a statement on Thursday it would market-test Eni's proposal and may then accept it as a legally-binding commitment without fining the company.

Eni's proposal, if accepted, would make it the fourth energy company, after Germany's E.ON and RWE and French utility GDF Suez, to settle with the regulator on charges of abusing a dominant position.


My comment: The same as before - it's just nice to see things change in a better direction. Hope that it will work as they claim and not in ... another way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Truths and lies about GMOs

This is the letter I sent today to Euraktiv and the Agriculture Commission and the EP, because I got very (VERY) mad on the desperate attempts to bring GMO food officially in Europe. I mean, ok, do it, but do it in a way that will protect EU interests and especially the interests of consumers. I hope I wont regret too much of my actions, but this is utterly wrong. You cannot force something on people, just because a corporation or two decided they really want to do it. Ok, you can, but that doesn't mean it's fair or right. And even though I spent some hours I didn't have on this, and that I can get myself into another mess before I recovered from the previous one, I just couldn't stop myself. Sometimes, you just have to do what you have to do. So, that's it. The game is on :) If anyone else feel involved, please, act too. Send your letters, contact your officials, do something, because the threat is really coming closer and closer. And afterward, it's over, it's over. We have to do what we can now.

The process of GMO invasion in Europe can be clearly observed in articles and statements of public figures. More and more we are told that we have to deal with GMO, that we have to submit to progress in science, that we have to do it for the whole planet. Informed people know this is wrong. I can't but wonder, in this case, why do high political representatives get so involved in an issue that requires deep knowledge of biotechnology, environmental science and of course economics.

As a scientist, I do trust science. I don't fear technology and I don't think that GMO are monstrous foods, they are not. However, as a scientist, I'm also aware of the corruption spread among scientists. A clear evidence of this is the so-called "climate gate" in which hacked emails exposed the weaknesses of peer-reviewing as a measure of scientific value. It's easy to extrapolate this to other fields, especially those related to biotechnology and pharmacy - fields where companies invest billions in products, products that MUST be sold to someone for profit. Such problems were recently exposed in USA where number of psychiatrists turned out to have received money from pharmaceutical companies for drugs whose safety they researched. This is a clear conflict of interests and it's not a single case. This is more or less the rule.

What is the connection? According to some sources, Monsanto, the main GMO producer has invested billions of dollars in lobbying only for 2009. How much money they invested in scientists is unknown. The main problem with biotechnology science is that it's very close related to the industry, because of the expense and the application of the production. In this case, it's very hard to trust scientists that research its safety. We see a number of researches claiming GMO's are safe and a number of researches claiming they are toxic and cancerous. How can a non-specialist decide who to believe? How can the European Commission or Parliament side with the producers if the scientific evaluation cannot be trusted? This is true for Europe as much as for USA - the control over specialists consulting safety agencies currently is obviously flawed.

One thing is sure, there is one clear sign that GMO are safe on the short term and it is the fact that people eat it for more than a decade. GMO soy can be found in almost every food product on the market in the form of E322 (soy lecithin) and also as corn derivatives. As people admit, more than 90% of the currently produced soy is genetically modified. Thus we consume it and we do it in quite big quantities. It's clear on the short-term, at least modified soy is safe. The long-term effect however is questionable and largely not studied (due to the age of the technology). For example, there is a boom of severe allergies and obesity in developed countries, mainly USA. Why? What's different in our food now, from our food a decade or 2 ago? The answer is clear - we eat GMO products (and meat produced with their help).This is of course speculation, but if I, as a normal citizen can make such observation and wonder, then politicians are obliged to investigate it and to consider if the risk really is so low and the benefits so big.

After the health issue that obviously very few people can seriously address, we have the environment issue. GMO organisms has already escaped in nature in Mexico. This is not a speculation, it is documented. If it can happen there, it can happen everywhere and probably has. The danger for the environment is clear and it is actually the biggest reason not to develop GMO except in strictly controlled places. Such control cannot be expected from average small farmers in an average European member-state. The environmental danger is clear. I don't see how the EC is addressing this problem in its attempts to spread GMO in Europe. The key to survival in Nature is diversity. If the GMO organisms replace the naturally occurring species reducing their diversity, that increases significantly the risk of extermination of the species in question. And since Nature is connected system, it is unknown how many species we're endangering.

Ultimately, there is the economical issues. We have two statements here - first GMOs improve yields and increase profits and second - they are crucial for feeding the planet.
On the yields statistics, there are studies in India, proving that yields might increase, but the profit do not. Even if this is wrong, USA grows GMOs for a long time now and we don't see US farmers getting filthy rich. In addition to that, there is the ultimate risk that a field with organic products can be infected by naturally spreading GMOs from a near farm and thus those "organic" seeds will have to be paid. In mixed regions with weak control, this is a very serious risk. And since such regions are likely to occur in poorer member states, the financial burden for such farmers will be a serious issue. Again, such problems are not accounted for in any EC or EP initiative. Who is going to help (financially) organic farmers to remain organic is also unknown.

The second promise of GMOs - to feed the world is obviously a beautiful lie. GMOs are grown for a decade, but Africa hasn't been fed. Nobody has been fed freely, because every GMO product must be paid to the producing company. Obviously, a poor region cannot afford to grow such products.

Of course, there is a third side of the economical problem, and this is GMO products for animal food. Since this also has health and economical sides, I won't discuss it since it leads to my final point.

The main problem in the politics about GMOs is the lack of control. We already eat GMO products without knowing it. The meat we eat has been produced using GMOs food and growth hormones and again we do not know it. If EC and EP want to promote GMOs, they have to seriously consider this problem. The society can be convinced to try GMO, as long as people have a choice. In current situation, we, the European consumers do not have that choice. There isn't real control of food containing GMOs (just as there is no real control on cosmetics containing nano-particles). The only "real" control we have over our food, is that our governments do not allow GMOs to be grown in our countries. As long as this remains true, people will make everything they can to keep that only control. That is to say, until every food/drink is properly labeled as GMO/free of GMO and we can trust those labels, we won't give up our fight against GMOs.
Thus, for me, the only way that GMOs can be accepted by European consumers without force and deceit is to label the products. And that after this labeling happens, every citizen will have the right to sue a company in European court if this label is wrong and get a very serious compensation. In this case, I'm sure people will happily give a go of the GMO food. After all, we eat them right now anyway. And with time, there may come even better varieties.

Last but not least, I also agree the EU have to finally clarify our position on the GMO question. However, this must be done in a way that will protect the consumers rights. We have the right to choose our food. Currently, that right isn't protected since labeling and ingredients are not controlled on EU level (and in some countries, even on member-state level).
Also, farmers have the right to grow what they like. If the use of GMOs is not strictly regulated protecting the interests of organic farmers, this right also won't be protected since GMOs are invasive and expensive.
Just as in the case of smokers, the right should go to the person whose personal rights are violated.

As European citizen I want my rights to be protected by both my government and European Union authorities. And this rights require strict control over GMOs and their use in my food and my environment.

Friday, February 12, 2010

What's wrong in the EU, 02, 2010

  1. Germany opposed 'nano' label for cosmetics
  2. New EU health chief seizes control of pharma policy
  3. EU starts screening raw materials ‘critical list`
  4. EU clears extra funds for carbon storage, offshore wind
  5. Commission forced to scale down soil law

Quote of the day:There is no way to prove a nanomaterial is safe, you can only prove that it's not immediately harmful. But that's all! And I think that EU consumers have the right to know what they use.

Germany opposed 'nano' label for cosmetics

24 November 2009

Efforts by EU governments to force cosmetics manufacturers to inform consumers when products contain nanomaterials were resisted by Germany, it has emerged.

Last week (20 November), EU member states adopted new rules on the marketing and safety of cosmetics by grouping the existing 55 directives into a single regulation.

One of the key elements of the new streamlined laws is a clause requiring companies to print the word 'nano' in brackets after any ingredient which is smaller than 100 nanometres in size.

However, Germany took the view that highlighting the fact that a product contains nanomaterials could be viewed by consumers as a warning.

German officials noted that cosmetic products that are for sale in the EU must already pass stringent safety tests, implying that the inclusion of nano-scale materials should not warrant additional scrutiny.

Green MEPs and environmental lobby groups have been pushing for the application of the 'no data, no market' principle to nanotechnologies (EurActiv 02/04/09).

Industry groups fear this would put the onus on them to prove nanomaterials do not carry any additional risk – a process that could lead to hundreds of products being taken off the market.

Germany's position is that information on nano-scale materials may be important for consumers where the particle size results in altered properties. This is closer to the industry's preference for defining nanotechnology based on function rather than size.

The new regulation will apply in all 27 EU countries and harmonises a previously fragmented area of law. The changes should help reduce costs and streamline safety rules. source

My comment: Do I need to state why this is wrong? There is no way to prove a nanomaterial is safe, you can only prove that it's not immediately harmful. But that's all! And I think that EU consumers have the right to know what they use. Especially when we talk about cosmetics, which you put on your skin and it gets into you much easier than anything else. Isn't it horribly wrong that one of the biggest EU countries is against regulation of the issue? It's not unexpected, but it's still wrong.

New EU health chief seizes control of pharma policy

30 November 2009

Healthcare lobbyists have scored a major victory in convincing European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to give responsibility for pharmaceuticals to the new health commissioner.

The move will anger pharmaceutical industry lobbyists who have consistently resisted such a move. Medicines have been controlled by the enterprise and industry wing of the EU executive, but health NGOs have argued that medicines policy comes under the health departments in almost all member states.

The EU's pharmaceutical package, which includes directives on drug safety and providing medical information to the public, is currently making its way through the European Parliament, where it is handled by MEPs on the environment and public health committee.

The new EU health commissioner, John Dalli from Malta, will now be responsible for the European Medicines Agency, as well as being in charge of the biotechnology, pesticides and health unit, which moves from the Commission's environment section.

The news is a blow to DG Enterprise – now called 'Industry and Entrepreneurship' – which could even lose control of the European Innovation Act to the new commissioner for innovation and research, and also cedes the 'Better Regulation' unit to the Secretariat General.

'Better Regulation' is EU jargon for cutting red tape to ease the burden on businesses.

EFPIA, the voice of the research-based pharmaceutical industry in Europe, congratulated Dalli on his appointment. A spokesperson told EurActiv the industry had a productive relationship with the Commission's health directorate and hoped to build on this with the new commissioner.

The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) celebrated the decision on Friday, noting that it had been advocating such a move for some time. source

My comment: I'm very unsure this move is good and I'm very worried about the new Commission. Because I see signs that Barroso gave up to the business. I can't currently decide if giving such an important post to small Malta is a good or a bad sign, but still, I'm very suspicious to moving biotechnology to healthcare. Because biotechnology=GMO and GMO cannot be proven to be harmful to the human body on the short term. The only hope for turning them off is to prove they are harmful to the environment, which they are. And by moving them to healthcare, it seems to me that it would become much more difficult to ban them. Which, it seems that is one of the goals of Barroso 2. And that's BAD.

EU starts screening raw materials ‘critical list’

1 December 2009

An expert group set up by the European Commission has begun screening a list of forty-nine "potentially critical" raw materials whose availability to industry could come under threat as global competition for natural resources intensifies, EurActiv has learned.

A preliminary list of twenty raw materials considered to be potentially critical for the EU economy, published by the Commission a year ago, has been expanded to include nineteen new substances.

A first batch of raw materials – cobalt, lithium and rare earths – was examined by the expert group during its first meeting in November, with the objective of testing the Commission's proposed methodology on the raw materials' "criticality", EurActiv has learned.

EU industries, and particularly those active in telecoms, aerospace and other hi-tech sectors, are facing fierce competition for natural resources from emerging economies, the Commission pointed out last year, outlining its draft raw materials strategy.

High-tech materials are increasingly at the basis of innovative "green techs", associated with renewable energy and reduction of greenhouse gases, it pointed out, saying Europe should seek ways of securing supplies or risk running short.

Those considered as "potentially critical" for 'high tech' sectors include niobium, platinum and titanium, the EU executive said in its preliminary assessment (see annex of Commission's raw materials initiative ).

The new strategy, to be fully fleshed out next year, should aim to lower the consumption of primary natural resources by increasing resource efficiency and recycling, EU industry ministers agreed after a meeting in May (EurActiv 04/06/09).

The expert group put together by the Commission has already identified three types of risks:

  • Import risk, where raw materials are imported from a politically instable region or from a country where the market economy does not work.
  • Production risk within the EU, with potential problems such as land access.
  • Environmental risk, based on indicators such as air or soil pollution, where the impact of raw materials use is measured from an environmental point of view.

The three types of indicators are then aggregated to determine risk, but this is where things get "a bit more complicated," the EU official said.

Among the rare earths likely to be most affected is neodymium, shortages of which are expected. Neodymium is the key component of an alloy used to make the high-power, lightweight magnets for electric motors of hybrid cars.

The problem is that 95% of global production and about 60% of consumption currently originate from China, according to the US geological survey.

Chinese media reported in September that Beijing would start applying quotas on exports of rare earths and other exotic metals of which it is the only major supplier, citing environmental reasons.

The United States and European Union filed a complaint with the World Trade Organisation on 23 June, accusing Beijing of unfairly favouring its steel, chemicals and other industries by restricting access to nine types of key raw materials. source

My comment: Why this is important? Because there are many signs now, of hm financial wars over resources. Mainly because most resources are located in China. I really don't understand how could this be possible, Russia is bigger and it makes sense that there are a lot of resources there too. So maybe the problem is also the cost of those resources. But anyway, China exports most of the resources and there are already shortages in them. So it's not that hard to imagine that soon, there will be major problems over that. Ever notices how USA is very very polite when arguing with China, even over important things? The same will probably happen in the EU. And we must be ready for that. So, this is a good initiative for the EU I guess, to list the important resources, but it must go further, it must come with increasing effectiveness and so on, because otherwise, it won't really help.

EU clears extra funds for carbon storage, offshore wind

10 December 2009

The European Commission yesterday (9 December) approved a series of offshore wind and carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects that will receive over €1.5 billion from the EU's economic recovery fund.

Six CCS demonstration projects were deemed mature enough to qualify for the €1 billion designated to support the fledgling technology (see EurActiv LinksDossier).

These include Vattenfall's Jaenshwalde power plant in Germany, Endesa's Compostilla plant in Spain, Maasvlakte plant in the Netherlands, Hatfield in the UK and Belchatow in Poland, which will each receive €180 million. In addition, Enel's Porto-Tolle plant in Italy gets €100 million.

These projects were selected out of a total of 12 proposals, with a further four put on a reserve list should one of the selected projects fall through. But the EU executive stressed that this would be extremely unlikely.

On offshore wind energy, nine projects out of the 29 proposed will share a total of €565 million. These range from €150m for an interconnection of German, Swedish and Danish wind farms in the Kriegers Flak area, to 10 billion for Belgium's Thornton Bank deep-water off-shore park.

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs defended the selection, which was made with a view to rewarding demonstrations that are mature enough to aid economic recovery. The signing of contracts will start this month, and the money will be made available to companies between 2010 and 2012, depending on their stage of development, he said.

According to the commissioner, helping the six CCS projects get off the ground will create a "core group of pioneers".

"Without CCS, we really can't make a sufficient contribution to capping greenhouse gas emissions," Piebalgs warned. But the technology comes at a high price and would require the EU to look into other financial sources, he added.

The EU is yet to approve a list of infrastructure projects that will soak up the remainder of the recovery funds in the field of energy. source

My comment: No comment, really. This isn't about the climate. It's about "let's keep home the money we earn". Fine enough. Just don't call it climate aid.

Commission forced to scale down soil law

10 February 2010

Following years of negotiations, five EU member states still form a blocking minority on the European Commission's proposal for a directive on soil protection, leaving some to wonder whether the EU executive should reconsider its approach to addressing this environmental issue.

Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK reiterated their opposition to the proposals after the Spanish EU Presidency's had attempted to find political agreement in the Council last week (4 February).

Identification of contaminated sites remains one of the main sticking points and a sensible and cost-efficient system for their remediation is yet to be found, one diplomat told EurActiv.

Meanwhile, political pressure to protect soil is mounting amid recognition of its role in capturing carbon and thus combating climate change.

During his hearing last month, new EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik announced that the Soil Directive would be one of his top priorities (EurActiv 14/01/10). The European Parliament has also stressed the need for better soil protection on several occasions.

Last year, the House adopted a non-legislative resolution on the deterioration of agricultural land in the EU, which called on the Council and the Commission to explore strategies for the recovery of damaged soil on the basis of incentives to limit soil deterioration.

In particular, Germany and the UK are claiming that the EU does not have the power to legislate on soil and that such laws would interfere with domestic policy measures. source

My comment: "Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK"- the axis of evil? Seriously, soil must be protected. In Bulgaria we trashed our soil! We destroyed it during the communism and it took 20 years for it to get better. Is this what the EU wants? I doubt it! There must be regulation and protection of the soil and the sooner this happens, the better!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Energy in Europe - France joins the South Stream Fun!, 02, 2010

Sorry for the late post, but I had to work harder than usual these days.
  1. EU reaches agreement on energy savings in buildings
  2. Russia makes emissions pledge, but WTO confusion remains
  3. Slovenia gives Russia final piece of South Stream puzzle
  4. France joins South Stream gas pipeline
Quote of the day:"How exactly South Stream could be a competitor to Nabucco, when it's owned and executed by European companies!!! Even France joined the fun!
Fillon expressed satisfaction that France had overtaken the USA by volume of its investments in Russia."

EU reaches agreement on energy savings in buildings

18 November 2009

EU lawmakers last night (17 November) forged a long-awaited compromise on the recast buildings directive, agreeing that all new buildings would have to comply with high energy-performance standards and supply a significant share of their energy requirements from renewable sources after the end of 2020.

The recast Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (see EurActiv LinksDossier) will require the public sector to take the lead by owning and renting buildings with "nearly zero" energy standards by the end of 2018, two years in advance of the private sector. Moreover, member states were tasked to promote the conversion of existing buildings to comply with the standard.

The Swedish EU Presidency admitted that the concept of a 'nearly zero' energy building was "not a very exact expression," but said it would ensure that the legislation gives member states incentives to make significant efficiency improvements in a sector that produces a third of the EU's CO2 emissions. Sweden has been instrumental in pushing for a deal on this crucial piece of efficiency legislation before the end of its term.

Each member state will be responsible for defining its own standards, in a nod to the fact that a common system would not work in Europe as local conditions vary, for example from Finland to Greece.

MEPS had sought to require member states to set percentage targets for making a minimum share of existing buildings produce all their energy on-site from renewables, effectively becoming zero-energy (EurActiv 24/04/09). Moreover, they wanted all new buildings to reach the energy-neutral standard by 2019.

But national capitals considered the Parliament's starting position to be unrealistic and were concerned about too much red tape (EurActiv 08/07/09).

The energy performance certificates foreseen in the recast directive will provide further incentives for developers and building owners to invest in efficiency improvements during renovations.

Whenever a building is sold or rented out to a new tenant, a certificate must be issued with information on the energy performance level of the building and recommendations on how to improve it. The certificate will have to be displayed at buildings with over 500 m2 occupied by a public authority and which are frequently visited by the public. The threshold will fall to 250 m2 five years after the legislation has entered into force.

Member states will be responsible for putting in place their certification schemes, but the European Commission will develop a voluntary European-wide system for non-residential buildings by 2011.

The lawmakers agreed that the key to the implementation of the reinforced legislation will be appropriate funding. As a result, an article was added to the directive on financial incentives, at both the national and EU levels.

The new legislation will require member states to list incentives from technical assistance and subsidies to low interest loans by mid-2011 for the transition to near zero-energy buildings. source

My comment: I think I have already said that, it's very hard to make a building zero-emission one without significant thinking and investment. And very few member states currently are able to provide those investments. So I support this legislation, even if it's not very committing. But people do realise that the only way to fight our giant electricity and gas consumption is by changing our buildings to fit the time we live in and the technology we have. So I am an optimist, sooner rather than later, the buildings will start becoming zero-emissions. The real problems are Eastern European countries, where building is booming and the standards are questionable. Those entrepreneurs won't love the new, more expensive way to build. But with little political will by the EU, they won't have another choice.

Russia makes emissions pledge, but WTO confusion remains

19 November 2009

Russia set a new target for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions at a summit with the European Union yesterday (18 November), but failed to clear up confusion over its plans to join the World Trade Organisation.

The EU said the promise to make further reductions to those planned was a boost for climate talks in Copenhagen next month, and the good atmosphere at the meeting was a sharp contrast to previous EU-Russia summits that have been marred by disputes.

The EU also welcomed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's commitment to join the WTO quickly but he failed to answer their questions about whether Moscow would join as a separate state or as part of a customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

One sour note at the talks in Stockholm was a disagreement over human rights, with the EU expressing concern over the situation in Russia. But the sides said they hoped soon to agree a new framework agreement for economic and political ties and avoided any conflict over Russian energy supplies to Europe.

Asked to confirm the figure, Russian officials later said Medvedev had set a target of reducing harmful emissions by 22-25% by 2020 compared with 1990 levels. The previous target was 10-15%.

There was harmony, however, on energy issues. Both sides welcomed the signing on Monday of a memorandum requiring them to notify each other of any likely disruption to energy supplies and to work together to resolve the problem.

Medvedev said Russia would seek quick entry to the 153-nation WTO but said no decision had been taken on whether to join alone or with Kazakhstan and Belarus, the two former Soviet republics which are part of a customs union with Russia. source

My comment: I don't really get why people so much want to join WTO, but I guess there should be a good reason. I like the part "There was harmony, however, on energy issues.". ROFL. The harmony is amazing, isn't it? Anyway, so far no gas crisis this winter, so here, I'm also an optimist. And in the end, Mr. Putin showed the EU what he wanted, more crises wouldn't be in the spirit of business partnership that such big "countries" should have. As for the emissions cuts, I think soon a commitment from China or say Asia, will be enough for the whole world. Because they seem to produce like everything. Oh well...

Slovenia gives Russia final piece of South Stream puzzle

16 November 2009

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin won Slovenia's approval on 14 November for the South Stream pipeline, undermining European Union efforts to reduce dependency on Russian gas supplies.

The seal of approval is the latest victory for the Kremlin as it seeks to counter the long delayed Nabucco pipeline which is backed by the European Union as a way to curb dependency on Russia by pumping gas from the Caspian and the Middle East.

Slovenia's approval brings the South Stream pipeline a step closer to being built, though its backers - Russian gas behemoth Gazprom and Italy's Eni SpA - still have to raise billions of dollars to finance the project.

"We have now signed deals with all the European partners needed for this project to be completed," Putin told reporters at his Novo-Ogaryovo residency outside Moscow after signing the cooperation deal with Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor.

Slovenia is the fifth country to sign such an agreement with Russia on the South Sea pipeline, which will skirt Ukraine and cross Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Greece, Slovenia to Italy.

With a capacity of 63 billion cubic metres a year, the pipeline is expected to cost between 19 billion and 24 billion euros ($28 billion to $36 billion). It is due to become operational in 2015.

Russia has been trying to persuade major European powers that support for alternative supply routes - such as South Stream and another project known as Nord Stream - will ensure smooth supplies. Both projects bypass Ukraine.

Nord Stream, which will pipe gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany, recently received approvals from Denmark, Sweden and Finland, a sign that construction work may start next year.. source

My comment: I don't understand how exactly South Stream "undermine EU efforts to diversify supply", but I guess the journalist who wrote this has something in mind. I don't see how exactly having two pipes is worst than having one (passing trough Turkey which is notorious with their blackmailing of the EU) but whatever. I wonder if they will manage to build those pipes. After all, the crisis sucked most of the billions out of the people who would invest them into such projects. Sure, I'm far from the idea that there are no money left, it just might be harder to get them. And I wonder why they included Bulgaria in the list, when there are still problems for that projects here.

France joins South Stream gas pipeline

1 December 2009

French company Electricité de France (EDF) on 27 November signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia's Gazprom regarding its possible participation in the South Stream gas pipeline, seen as a competitor to the EU-backed Nabucco project.

The document, which concerns EDF's participation in the construction of the offshore section of the South Stream pipeline, was signed in Paris during a visit by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The memorandum specifies that the details of EDF's participation in the project will be worked out jointly with Italy's ENI, which currently owns 50% of South Stream AG, according to a statement posted on Gazprom's website.

French Prime Minister François Fillon hailed EDF's participation in South Stream and the recent partnership between GDF-Suez and Gazprom on Nord Stream, according to the Kremlin website (EurActiv 30/07/09). Like South Stream, Nord Stream is designed to bring Russian gas to Western Europe, bypassing Ukraine.

Fillon expressed satisfaction that France had overtaken the USA by volume of its investments in Russia. He said contacts had been developed in other spheres too, declaring that 2010 would be "Russia Year" in his country, with "France Year" taking place simultaneously in Russia. Putin said that over 350 cultural events would take place under this heading.

Putin also mentioned other areas of cooperation, including machine-building, space, aeronautics and nuclear energy. source

My comment: Yeah, back on my previous comment. How exactly South Stream could be a competitor to Nabucco, when it's owned and executed by European companies!!! Even France joined the fun! I think it's not serious anymore to write the so loved line of how South Stream stands on the way of Nabucco, simply because it's not true! South Stream has the unique advantage that Russia is the source country of the gas and it has a HUGE desire to make sure this gas reaches the consumers. Which cannot be said for Nabucco which hardly has a source country. There isn't a drive for that project and people should understand it. It's much easier to diversify our energy dependence with other types of energy, like renewable, than to go trough the whole hurdle of making Nabucco a reality from zero to the end. It's just too hard. Or maybe it isn't, but it's not going to happen so quickly and that's important. The two project cannot compete and we have to understand it and move on!

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