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

Monday, May 31, 2010

Climate in Europe - cold, not only on the outside, 05.2010

Today:
  1. Brussels backs down on centralised carbon auction plans
  2. EU, Poland move to settle carbon quota row
  3. Europe's transport emissions keep rising
  4. MEPs agree tighter rules on industrial pollution
First - I can't believe Germany won Eurovision. The girl was cute, but the song was plainly stupid. I was for Albania even though I heard only the last 30s of the song. Very good song. I liked also the Danish song. But Germany won! I wonder why...

    Brussels backs down on centralised carbon auction plans

    09 April 2010
    The European Commission has backed down on plans to establish a centralised platform for auctioning CO2 emission allowances from 2013, allowing Germany, the UK and other large emitters to organise auctions at national level, according to a draft proposal seen by EurActiv.
    A draft regulation was presented to EU member states this week (6 April) that would see a joint platform for auctioning carbon permits established during the third phase of the EU's emission trading scheme (EU ETS), which starts in 2013.
    As well as creating a single auctioning platform from 2013, the regulation provides for short-term auctioning of carbon futures.
    However, the proposal gives EU member states the chance to opt out from the European scheme during the first five years and allows them to auction their share of emission allowances until 2016 at national level.
    The impact assessment accompanying the draft regulation found that a centralised approach is "the most appropriate model" for auctioning EU allowances (EUAs), in that it minimises costs to both public authorities and bidders and provides simplicity.Moreover, the absence of a centralised auctioning system could complicate any future negotiations on linking the EU ETS to other cap-and-trade systems as envisaged by the bloc, it added.
    However, the Commission caved in to pressure from the EU's largest emitters - the UK, Germany, Poland and Spain - which formed a blocking minority. The group, led by the UK and Germany, are insisting on controlling their own auctions and prefer a system of linked national platforms.
    By contrast, the other 23 EU members overwhelmingly favour a single process for auctioning, citing greater efficiency and equal access to all parties.
    sourceMy comment: Lately, I'm very disappointed by the EU and I'm reconsidering this blog. I really believe the EU is a dream for us, because it offers us the unique opportunity to live together in peace and to create a better society. But reading articles like this, it's hard to see that dream alive. Few countries, usually the biggest, decide they don't want something to happen and it doesn't happen. Even if this will harm them in the long run. And since nobody wants something harmful, that shows that they simply don't believe in the system and they procrastinate until it falls apart. And now that's sad. Because we see what is the situation in Europe today. It's not only Greece. Greece is the scapegoat for European shame. Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, UK are also running on deficit. They are making their best to handle the situation, but the facts are clear. The deficit is simply a very well-hidden secret, nothing more. And the reaction of Europe against Greece is well-hidden fear, that their secret isn't a secret anymore. Well guys, I don't mean to be evil, but I hate how people live on credit. That's wrong. Credits are bad! And because our whole fiscal system is based not on production but on credits, it's also bad. And we have to face that truth and move on. 
    And again - I hate how those big countries manipulated the climate decision!

    EU, Poland move to settle carbon quota row

    20 April 2010
    Poland and the European Commission reached an agreement on carbon quotas yesterday (19 April), after Brussels accepted Warsaw's revised plan for allocating emission allowances.
    The EU executive said the new plan, submitted by Poland for the second phase of the EU's emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) from 2008 to 2012, fulfilled the directive's requirements.
    The decision marks a milestone in the battle by several Central and Eastern European member states to raise the cap imposed by the EU ETS and ease the burden on their industries.
    The total number of allowances thus remains 208.5 Mt per year, compared to the 285 originally proposed by Poland. sourceMy comment: I'm glad this row is over, it was kind of annoying and ruining the EC authority. But I think we all have the feeling that the emissions of the EU will fall drastically in 2010, because of the crisis. Which isn't exactly good, they should have fallen because of improved efficiency, not because of bad financial climate. And I'm afraid this might tell people we don't need ETS. Which is wrong. We need it. Let's hope the smart people will see and will act.

    Europe's transport emissions keep rising

    03 May 2010
    Greenhouse gas emissions from Europe's transport sector continue to grow as people and goods are travelling longer distances despite the development of cleaner vehicles, which is making Europe's transport more efficient, shows a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
    Greenhouse gas emissions from transport grew by 28% between 1990 and 2007 across the 32 European countries, accounting for 19% of total emissions, the data shows. And while Europe recorded some successes in reducing air pollutant emissions, road transport remains the largest emitter of nitrogen oxides and the second-largest source of particulate matter in 2007, it reveals.Freight transport continued to grow somewhat faster than the economy, boosted by greater efficiency partly caused by the removal of intra-EU barriers, according to the report. The largest increases were recorded in road (43%) and air (35%) freight across the 27 EU member states.
    Passenger transport, on the other hand, also continued to grow but at a slower rate than the economy, the report showed. Air travel remained the fastest growing means of transport in the EU, recording a 48% increase between 1997 and 2007.
    The EU has spent the last decade trying to decouple transport emissions from economic growth while improving people's mobility, but the bloc now needs to develop a clear vision for its transport system by 2050, the EEA argued.
    The report concludes that the most effective approach is to adopt a "policy package" that combines technological improvements reducing fuel consumption with measures to shift journeys to lower emission modes and to avoid travelling altogether.This would include coupling measures ensuring an uptake rate of 50-80% for electric vehicles by 2050 or improved engine design with land-use planning.  source
    My comment: Yeah, right, we removed the barrier so that we can travel and now, they want to discourage traveling? That sounds so immensely bad, it's hard to believe someone actually said it. Anyway, I think those numbers are important, because people seem not to be able to grasp the number of vehicles that are on the move across Europe in each moment. And of them, maybe only 5% are with people traveling. Most of them move stuff around. And in most cases, they don't move them in the most environmentally friendly way, but in the cheapest way. If we want to change something, we have to make sure the last two terms become equal!

    MEPs agree tighter rules on industrial pollution

    07 May 2010
    MEPs yesterday (4 May) agreed to strengthen legislative proposals to limit industrial air pollution by allowing for more limited derogations than EU governments had demanded.
    The European Parliament's environment committee was voting on a proposal to recast the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive, which combines seven existing directives into a single directive on industrial emissions (IED).
    The proposal seeks to reinforce the implementation of the legislation, which obliges industrial installations to obtain permits from national authorities to release pollutants into the air, soil and water.
    MEPs strengthened the proposal by limiting the instances where public authorities can issue permits for installations that do not follow best available techniques (BATs).
    The committee added new text to clarify the conditions under which national authorities can set limits on emissions that are not as strict as those associated with BATs.
    MEPs decided to limit derogations to cases where assessments have demonstrated that the geographical location or local environmental conditions of an installation prevent the implementation of BATs, or where the technical characteristics of an installation would create disproportional economic costs compared to environmental advantages.
    The committee also agreed to allow member states to give their large combustion plants until mid-2019 to meet emission limit values.

    The vote came as the European Environment Agency (EEA) reported that around half of EU member states will miss at least one of their air pollutant emission limits under the National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive. Moreover, 11 countries expect to exceed their ceilings "by significant amounts," it said.
    Rather than limiting pollution from individual sources like the IPPC directive, the law sets national limits for four pollutants.
     sourceMy comment: " disproportional economic costs compared to environmental advantages"? We're good with words aren't we? Anyway, those regulations are never obeyed as studies show, so I doubt the new wording would matter. But still, I'm very positive about the BAT idea and all I want to see is control. Because it's shame so much countries are not meeting their obligations. 


    France details plans for ‘carbon inclusion mechanism’- A campaign to introduce carbon tariffs at EU borders in order to restore fair competition with freely-polluting industries in China is being revamped in Brussels to allay fears that it might trigger a trade war.
    The proposed system, called a "carbon inclusion mechanism," would require importers of goods manufactured outside Europe to buy pollution permits from the EU’s emissions trading scheme for carbon dioxide (EU-ETS).
    French diplomats say the system would only be used as a last resort and should work as a lever to force emerging economies like China, India and Brazil back on the negotiating table after the failure of international climate talks in Copenhagen last year.- I absolutely agree with that idea! It was about time someone to offer it! Because it's the only way to make those countries join our efforts to curb emissions. Not that we're trying so hard, but if they start doing it, we will as well.


    Commission sees no need for separate biowaste law - Despite pressure from a number of EU countries to table a specific directive on biowaste, the European Commission argues that similar economic and environmental benefits can be achieved through better implementation of existing legislation.

    Mayors to receive extra EU cash for energy projects - European Commission President José Manuel Barroso yesterday (4 May) pledged to divert unused EU stimulus cash into a fund to help regions and cities become more energy efficient. "About time," said EU mayors meeting in Brussels. - "About time", indeed!

    EU ministers agree broad outline for climate aid - EU finance ministers yesterday (18 May) endorsed a report laying down Europe's priorities on climate aid for developing countries but left open details of how they will share the costs.

    World forests 'being flushed down the toilet' - As global population grows and access to sanitation improves, the world's forests are "under assault" from paper companies competing to respond to growing consumer demand for toilet tissue, the only paper product that cannot be recycled after use, writes the Worldwatch Institute.
    France takes carbon tariff campaign to Washington - France will seek an agreement with the US on a carbon border tax and is convinced that other EU states will come on board if Washington supports it. -
    Belgian anti-wind campaigners vent fury at EU - A group of citizens from the Belgian town of Estinnes near the French border have appealed to the European Commission to stop a wind farm being developed in their backyard. - Who would have thought that there is safety distance to such installations. Hm.

    Vacationing a human right, EU chief says -The European Union has declared travelling a human right, and is launching a scheme to subsidize vacations with taxpayers' dollars for those too poor to afford their own trips. - Absolutely cool, the idea is to subsidize 30% of the trip of elder or youth or people in difficult situation. That great because first it's good of the people, second, it's good for tourism.

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Happy day of the Cyrillic alphabet!

    Happy 24th May!
    This is going to be very short post, because I'm kind of busy celebrating :)

    In Bulgaria, we celebrate the Bulgarian Education and Culture and Slavonic Literature Day.  Or more accurately, the Bulgarian day of the Science, Education, Culture and the Slavonic Literature Day. The name speaks of itself. The reason why I post this here is because the Cyrillic is the third official alphabet in the EU and even more, St. Cyrill and Methodius and more particularly St. Cyrill is the reason that every nation has the right to read the Bible on their own language. This is AMAZING achievement and I personally think, this is the best thing Bulgaria gave to the world. St. Cyrill basically convinced the Pope that every nation is equal in the face of God. I think it's obvious how important this is even now. Centuries later, people in various countries fought to be accepted as equal to others in the society. St. Cyrill did it 1100 years ago!
    I wish you all best and I hope the Light reach you all.

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    Bulgaria and the EU, 05, 2010

    A little post dedicated to my own country, because I noticed its name to appear in recent news in not very benevolent light. You can see those articles below.
    Now, I am a realist, I know my country has a lot of problems, especially financial.  But it's not just us, the whole world has tough time. And in the light of Greek problems, ours are just piece of cake. And that's why, I was very surprised to read such negative articles. And the worst is that they are actually written by Bulgarian journalists. Sure, in Bulgaria we have well established tradition to be the most critical to our own, but anyway. My duty is to shed some light or at least to share my own opinion on the issues and you will then decide for yourselves.

    So, on the first article - i don't think the EC has the right to give or deny permissions for an energy project in any country. Because this is sovereign issue. That is, as long as we're not asking for funds for this project which we are not. So I don't understand how a Commissioner will go to a country and say what he said in Bulgaria. I don't know how Barroso chose his  Commission but I find some of the guys very very bad ideas. Or maybe they are fine, but they are chosen to be puppets of Barroso? If that's the case, I'm very disappointed. Because it's much better to appoint disobedient people with qualities than stupid puppets that will never take any initiative or put their hearts in a project. In the case of Bulgaria and our new nuclear plant, that's been built for the last 10 years, we would never choose a technology that's not safe. I think I read somewhere that our plant was the first possibility of that Russian technology to be used in European country. I'm sure they'll do their best to impress Europe with good things, not with bad. Because that is where their profit is.

    And note - the EC tells us that they don't want that plant to have Russian investor? Why? How the kind of investors you have relates to the safety of the plant? It's the technology that is important. Too bad our current government is so inexperienced, it's hard for them to know when to give up and when to resist. I'm a great supporter of that power plant, because I think we need it. And because I'm a supporter of nuclear energy, of course. I hope that at some point, Belene will be built. But that's not the important part here - the main question is about the level of interference the EC is allowed. After all, we know France would prefer French technology at the plant. But if it wasn't the best option for us, should we just sit and watch how they stop us from building something on our own soil? I don't think so.

    The second news is about the eurozone entry of Bulgaria. This is more or less ok with me, even though the way the article was written again implied some kind of corruption involved. When the reality is much simpler - each country tries to make their deficit look better. In time of crisis, that is even more important. We used to have around 2%, now it will be around 4-5%. This is a lot, but let's remember that Greek is collapsing, Romania needed a credit from IMF, we're so far good. Our economy isn't in that bad state and if they make a reduction in the administration (which I support) and if they review  projects for unhealthy ones, we'll be good. Thus, our economy is not that bad. The time however is bad for entry in the eurozone, especially with the problems of the euro. So, we decided it's not worth the trouble. That's all.

    The third article is about an issue that is more problematic for me. It's about our license to buy and sell carbon emissions. Why this is important? Because our government counted on them to find 500m euro for the budget. And once they said it, we were suddenly out of the trading. Weird, right? And this, after the EC tried for months to think of a way to stop member-states with excesses of emissions allowances to sell them for profit. Isn't this suspicious? And veeery convenient. By the time we are allowed to sell, the crisis is likely to be over. Now, I'm sure our government will find a way to survive. However, such actions were very nasty from the EC. After all, it's theirs rules, their mechanism, we're just benefiting it just like other member-states did. However for them, it's ok, for us - not? I don't think this is very fair, right? And I think the EU member-states should ask themselves whether this is the type of union they want to participate. Because if today they do this to us, tomorrow, they will do it to someone else. Whoever "they" are. So we have to be careful about such actions and prevent them, if we want our union to be good for everyone. And that's the only way it may stand the test of time, after all.

    I think the moral is simple. I don't deny my county has many problems, especially with corruption and with the mafia that is so interwoven in government and with the total lack of regulations or control how different agencies and authorities should function and with the total apathy of people that are so sicked and tired of the whole mess we're living in. However, those articles were not objective. And I had to refute that. Now you're informed. Enjoy :)

    Today:
    1. Oettinger tells Sofia to be ‘wiser’ with energy projects
    2. Bulgaria drops plans for early eurozone entry
    3. Bulgaria suspended from CO2 emissions trading

    Oettinger tells Sofia to be ‘wiser’ with energy projects

    06 April 2010
    EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger paid his first visit to Bulgaria on 3 March, the country's national day. Although the visit received limited coverage, it gave the commissioner an opportunity to criticise Sofia's sometimes questionable energy choices.
    In Sofia, Oettinger made clear that Brussels is not happy with Bulgaria's energy policy.
    ''Each project in the energy sector should be agreed with the European Commission,'' he said, stressing that ''we are very sensitive about the Belene nuclear power plant project''.
    Such messages are seen by many as long overdue. For the past 20 years, governments in Bulgaria have thrown their weight behind two energy projects of questionable economic and financial sustainability: the planned Belene nuclear power plant and the 'Tsankov Kamak' hydroelectric plant, which is almost complete.
    Both have disappointed in various ways, and it was recently disclosed that billions of euros had been poured into what now appear to be corruption schemes.
     Following the withdrawal of Germany's RWE as a strategic partner for the project, Russia offered Bulgaria a €2 billion loan to finance the construction of the plant. The Bulgarian government initially accepted the offer, but after interference from Brussels it became clear that the project would only go ahead with a European investor (EurActiv 03/03/10).

    The Tsankov Kamak hydropower plant is Bulgaria's second most controversial project in the energy sector.
    According to recent revelations, the plant might become the most expensive hydropower project in the world. Costs were originally estimated to be €220 million but have since doubled, mainly as a result of the construction of a 22-kilometre road between the towns of Devin and Mihalkovo, which is said to have cost 222 million Bulgarian levs (€114.5 million).
    Prime Minister Borissov said there would be an investigation into what has been dubbed Bulgaria's "most expensive road," the construction of which he said had shown clear signs of corruption.

    Less controversial are a series of gas pipeline inter-connector projects. On 5 March, Bulgaria and Serbia signed a protocol in Brussels for the construction of a gas pipeline connection between the two countries, running from the Bulgarian city of Dupnitsa to the Serbian cities of Dimitrovgrad and Nis. The pipe should be completed by 2013, with €60 million coming from the European Regional Development Fund.
    A memorandum to construct a gas pipeline between the Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora and the Greek city of Komotini was signed on 14 July 2009 between BEH (Bulgarian Energy Holding) and IGI Poseidon (50% owned by Depa and 50% by Edison). The project is due to benefit from EU funding. It should be completed by 2013 and its cost is estimated at €120 million. 
    A projected gas pipeline connection between the Bulgarian city of Rousse, on the Danube, and its Romanian counterpart Giurgiu was drawn up by Bulgartransgas and Romanian company SNTGN Transgaz. This pipe is also included in the list of projects sponsored under the EU economic stimulus plan. Worth €27.6 million, the pipeline should also be completed by 2013.
    Nabucco and South Stream
    Last but not least, Bulgaria is a key transit country for both the Nabucco and South Stream pipeline projects.
    Nabucco was given top priority by the EU as it is designed to brings gas from countries other than Russia. The pipeline would cost between €8 and €9 billion and should be completed by 2013.
    The South Stream gas pipeline is a project sponsored by Russian gas giant Gazprom. It is designed to bypass Ukraine, running under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, with one branch going to Greece and Italy, and another one to Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria. The project should be completed by 2015. Its value is estimated at €8-10 billion and the pipeline would have a capacity of 64 billion cubic metres. source
    My comment:

    Bulgaria drops plans for early eurozone entry

    12 April 2010
    Bulgaria's centre-right government on 9 April abandoned plans to join the bloc's exchange-rate mechanism, ERM II, after the country recorded a larger-than-expected deficit in 2009 as a result of unaccounted procurement deals signed by the previous socialist-led cabinet.

    Bulgaria will not enter ERM II, seen as the eurozone waiting room, Finance Minister Simeon Djankov announced at a press conference on Friday (9 April).
    Bulgaria had planned to join ERM II in 2010 and to become a member of the euro zone in 2013.For a long time, Bulgaria has claimed that it is about to fulfil the Maastricht criteria for eurozone entry (EurActiv 09/03/09).
    As part of efforts to meet the target for ERM II, the centre-right government had even delayed VAT refunds for businesses in a bid to keep the budget deficit low.
    However, Finance Minister Djankov explained that Bulgaria's hidden budget deficit had ruined its dreams of joining the euro zone.
    The minister said the deals had increased the deficit to 3.7% of GDP compared to earlier estimations of 1.9%.
    Nevertheless, the minister was quick to stress that the financial stability of the country was not at risk. The IMF has maintained a currency board for Bulgaria since 1997. sourceMy comment:

    Bulgaria suspended from CO2 emissions trading

    14 May 2010
    Bulgaria will be suspended from carbon emissions trading under the Kyoto Protocol as a result of poor transparency and untrustworthiness, the country's environment minister said on 13 May. The decision represents a heavy blow for the government in Sofia, which expected to receive €250m in revenue from the scheme this year, according to Dnevnik, EurActiv's partner publication in Bulgaria.
    Bulgaria will be suspended from the scheme as of 30 June if a United Nations' committee revokes its accreditation under the treaty. A formal decision is expected by the end of June. Environment Minister Nona Karadzhova said there was no chance of any reversal.
    The suspension, which is expected to last until at least November, comes after UN checks had shown that Bulgaria's national system for recording greenhouse gas emissions, which is key for ensuring compliance under Kyoto, was not transparent and trustworthy, Karadzhova explained.
    She said the ban would prevent Bulgarian companies from trading on greenhouse gas emission schemes under Kyoto, and would also affect their participation in the European Union's emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS).
    Over 130 Bulgarian companies, which waited for over two years to begin trading under the ETS, will now only be able to sell their free quotas until 30 June. The government will most likely not receive a single euro of the so-called Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) that it has accumulated, Dnevnik writes.The news comes as a heavy blow for the Bulgarian government, which had earmarked €500m of such revenue for financing anti-crisis measures.


    Foreign experts revealed that just one person, who works in the environment agency, deals with the country's yearly reports. The young female employee reportedly could not maintain consistency in the information included in the reports.
    "It's a young woman. She had worked well, but in fact she was on maternity leave during the [foreign experts'] check and we had to call her to come to the office," Karadzhova said.
    Her predecessor Dzhevdet Chakarov, now a member of parliament, responded to accusations of negligence by the previous government by saying that throughout his term, nobody had questioned the consistency of the reports.
    Bulgaria's suspension from CO2 trading is the "merit" of the current government, he said.


    A European Commission spokeswoman said the suspension would have only a limited effect on Bulgaria's participation in the EU emissions trading scheme.
    "The suspension would not extend to trade in [EU carbon] allowances, but would temporarily prevent the delivery of allowances," the spokeswoman said in an email, quoted by Reuters.
    "In the short-term, the only effect would be that allowances could not be moved into and out of the Bulgarian [emissions] registry, which would hamper spot trading in allowances for Bulgarian companies, as allowances could not be delivered until the suspension is lifted."
    Spot trading in EU permits and Bulgaria's share of permits both only account for a small proportion of the total EU carbon market.
     source


    EU plans measures to curb demand for natural resources -
    Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik yesterday (7 April) announced that he is preparing new measures for 2011 to reflect the true cost of natural resources in products and services and substitute virgin raw materials for waste wherever possible. -

    Euro zone aid provides short-term relief for Greece - The euro zone's standby aid package for Greece offers only a short-term solution to Athens's debt crisis and leaves many questions about the future of the single currency group and the European Union unanswered.
    Brussels eyes water savings in agriculture - Addressing water efficiency in farming, which accounts for two thirds of EU water use, should be one of the priorities in reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the head of the European Commission's water unit suggests.


    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Greek show - is it over? 05.2010

    As you know the crisis in Greece was number one on the news for a long while. It was partly overshadowed only by the Oil Spill, but only that much. So I had to comment it here as well.

    I pasted parts of two of the most interesting articles I found so far.
    1. Greek Debt Woes Ripple Outward, From Asia to U.S.
    2. E.U. Details $957 Billion Rescue Package
    First of all, I'd like to comment the Greek riots. I'm sure everybody heard already about the great social benefits Greek people enjoyed in recent years. I wouldn't even call them social - it's social to give when you have. It's theft to give when you don't have. And this is what happened, the Greek people collectively robbed the Greek state. And now, when the situation got beyond control, they are angry. They claim it's not them who should pay but the "rich people" whoever those rich people are. I'm sure that rich and poor, everybody in Greek got whatever they could from their horribly governed stated. I find this hypocritical. And the riots, I find extremely ugly. Because they show young people out of control, aggressive to the policemen, aggressive to everyone. Blaming the EU for the conditions they imposed on them. When they can blame only themselves, because in democracy, it's people who are supposed to control what's going on in their government. If the rulers steal, then it's responsibility of the people to remove those rulers. I'm completely aware that it's not the way it happens in most cases, but whose fault is this? We in Bulgaria allow our rulers to do as they like. In result, we live in misery. But nobody's rioting. It's our fault, we accept it and move on. Or at least for the moment it is like that. The national apathy is beyond the scope of this post :)
    So, on the social side of the problem, I can only say - people, are you crazy? If the EU don't give you money, you'll end up starving. The prices of land will fall and foreigners will simply buy Greece! Is this what you want?
    Moving on to the amazing deal the EU made on 9th of May - the Day of the EU! You can read the details in the articles, but in short - they will make appr. 600 billions of euro available for saving states in problem. The European Central Bank will buy national bonds to help dying finances. And Greece will have the money they need. Unfortunately, the IMF will be a side on that deal.
    Now, what bothers me. First, the IMF. Why should they give us money? What the fuck means that they will give one euro for two?! That doesn't sound good at all. It sounds like Europe will have to pay for the whole crisis to me by effectively printing off money for USA. Well, that's not FAIR. Especially not when EU countries have the money and the power to do that by themselves. They just don't want to. They don't want to do it, because they are too busy with their internal games! Is this what the idea behind the EU? Isn't it time we all play for something bigger? I'm not anti-nationalist, not in the least. I love my country much more than its government loves me. But sometimes one has to give something up in order to win a big time. And in the case, Europe should have fought as a whole. Sure, some may argue that it's what we're doing. No, we're not. We're not sacrificing our national interests for the sake of the EU, we're sacrificing them for the sake of USA. And that's so utterly wrong.
    If you think I'm over-reacting on the USA-link, read the first article and/or the links on the bottom. Obama actually called Merkel, because he was worried. Of course, he has to be worried, because the world is too globalised to believe that one continent can suffer and others to thrive. The problem isn't that he's worried. The problem is that the IMF pressured on the EU. Just like in the case of GMOs. They told us to approve them and that was it. The long resistance of Europe against the GMOs was over. And now, Obama called Merkel to tell her the show must be over and the show was over. Sure, he was right. But he shouldn't mess with EU decisions. We had to learn our morale alone. Now, the moral is lost. Lost behind the big numbers and the unknown conditions under which they will be given. And the shadow of the IMF. I can't but wonder why a French man is on top of an american organisation as the IMF? Isn't it odd? I find it is.
    Anyway, I'll finish by saying that I hope that those money won't be wasted but will serve all European nations for a good lesson. And the lesson is clear - in an Union nothing can remain hidden for a long time and nothing can remain isolated. We are one and we have to start living as one.

    Greek Debt Woes Ripple Outward, From Asia to U.S.

    What was once a local worry about the debt burden of one of Europe’s smallest economies has quickly gone global. Already, jittery investors have forced Brazil to scale back bond sales as interest rates soared and caused currencies in Asia like the Korean won to weaken. Ten companies around the world that had planned to issue stock delayed their offerings, the most in a single week since October 2008.

    The increased global anxiety threatens to slow the recovery in the United States, where job growth has finally picked up after the deepest recession since the Great Depression. It could also inhibit consumer spending as stock portfolios shrink and loans are harder to come by.

    “It’s not just a European problem, it’s the U.S., Japan and the U.K. right now,” said Ian Kelson, a bond fund manager in London with T. Rowe Price. “It’s across the board.”

    The crisis is so perilous for Europe that the leaders of the 16 countries that use the euro worked into the early morning Saturday on a proposal to create a so-called stabilization mechanism intended to reassure the markets. On Sunday, finance ministers from all 27 European Union states are expected to gather in Brussels to discuss and possibly approve the proposal.

    If the anxiety spreads, American banks could return to the posture they adopted after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the fall of 2008, when they cut back sharply on mortgages, auto financing, credit card lending and small business loans. That could stymie job growth and halt the recovery now gaining traction.

    Some American companies are facing higher costs to finance their debt, while big exporters are seeing their edge over European rivals shrink as the dollar strengthens. Riskier assets, like stocks, are suddenly out of favor, while cash has streamed into the safest of all investments, gold.

    Just as Greece is being forced to pay more to borrow, more risky American companies are being forced to pay up, too. Some issuers of new junk bonds in the consumer sector are likely to have to pay roughly 9 percent on new bonds, up from about 8.5 percent before this week’s volatility, said Kevin Cassidy, senior credit officer with Moody’s.

    Over all, United States banks have $3.6 trillion in exposure to European banks, according to the Bank for International Settlements. That includes more than a trillion dollars in loans to France and Germany, and nearly $200 billion to Spain.

    What is more, American money-market investors are already feeling nervous about hundreds of billions of dollars in short-term loans to big European banks and other financial institutions. source


    E.U. Details $957 Billion Rescue Package

    BRUSSELS — European leaders agreed on Monday to provide a huge rescue package of nearly $1 trillion in a sweeping effort to combat the debt crisis that has engulfed Europe and threatened markets around the world.

    In an extraordinary session that lasted into the early morning hours, finance ministers from the European Union agreed on a deal that would provide $560 billion in new loans and $76 billion under an existing lending program. Elena Salgado, the Spanish finance minister, who announced the deal, also said the International Monetary Fund was prepared to give up to $321 billion separately.

    Officials are hoping the size of the program — a total of $957 billion — will signal a “shock and awe” commitment that will be viewed in the same vein as the $700 billion package the United States government provided to help its own ailing financial institutions in 2008.

    Underscoring the urgency of the situation, President Obama spoke to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, on Sunday about the need for decisive action to restore investor confidence. And in a sign of the spreading anxiety, the United States Federal Reserve, along with the European Central Bank and the central banks of Canada, Britain and Switzerland, announced the establishment of instruments known as swap lines. The swaps are intended to ease pressure on European banks and money markets by providing more liquidity.

    In addition, the European Central Bank announced after the deal was completed that it would intervene in the government and corporate bond markets, also to provide liquidity.

    The actions by the United States represented significant concern that the European crisis could spill over and hinder the American recovery.

    Stock markets in the Asia-Pacific region rose early on Monday.

    ...

    Financial unease has been mounting. Riots in Greece, ever-tightening terms of credit and the unexplained free fall in the American stock market last Thursday have compounded the sense that the European Union’s inability to address its sovereign debt crisis might lead to the type of systemic collapse that followed the fall of Lehman Brothers.

    The debt crisis began with Greece teetering toward default, and fear quickly spread about other weak economies like Portugal, Spain and even Italy.

    Mr. Rehn said the I.M.F. would provide “half as much as the European Union” following lengthy talks with fund officials.

    “We shall defend the euro whatever it takes,” Mr. Rehn said.

    One of the crucial decisions that ministers made was to create a so-called special purpose vehicle to disburse the $560 billion in new loans, should that support be required by member states in economic difficulties.

    The use of such a financial instrument reflected the difficulties that individual European governments — and Germany’s in particular — had in committing huge sums to a central authority. Having a body like the European Commission, Europe’s executive body, oversee the economic management of the bloc was seen by some countries as a clash with national sovereignty.

    In a statement after their meeting, the ministers emphasized that the special purpose vehicle would expire after three years and that its use would be strictly dependent on “national constitutional requirements.”

    There were many complications in trying to forge a consensus. They included defining the role of Britain, which lies outside the euro zone and had said it would not help in propping up the euro, as well as the European Central Bank. The fractiousness underscores the frailty of a monetary union in which its richest member, Germany, is also the most opposed to a financial rescue. Mrs. Merkel of Germany attended a victory parade on Red Square in Moscow on Sunday, a sign of how seriously Germans consider reconciliation with Russia. Mr. Sarkozy and the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, opted not to attend, regarding the financial crisis as more urgent.

    source

    More:

    “At stake is the euro and the euro zone,” a French official said. “We need to give a clear signal to markets.” source

    More:
    In Greek Debt Crisis, Some See Parallels to U.S. -

    Debt Package for Europe Took U.S. Nudge - The Germans, together with other northern Europeans like the Dutch, British and Austrians, insisted that the European Commission not control the vehicle but only manage it — in conjunction, as with the Greek deal, with the International Monetary Fund. The fund would provide discipline, as well as roughly one euro for every two from Europe. (!!!)
    A Trillion for Europe, With Doubts Attached -

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    The battle for the EEAS, 05, 2010

    Today, let's talk about EEAS - the new European diplomatic service.
    There was a lot of controversy surrounding EEAS recently, not without reason I think. The main problem - the proposed structure was too centralised and all the roads led to France. Weather this is a bad thing or a good is another question, but after all, too much power focused in the hands of anyone is dangerous and likely to lead to corruption. For example, in the first article, you may read about the dubious expenses of different diplomatic services which spent and spent without any justification. All they needed was a signature of their boss. Convenient, huh?

    Fortunately for us all, the Parliament took the right action and put Ashton under heavy fire. The result is a new plan, which from what I read isn't exactly strictly structured, but at least, Ashton got the message that she cannot do as she pleases. Even better, now she has 3 deputies, one of them - Kristalina Georgieva, the Bulgarian Commissioner who I really respect. And this is good not only because we have another Bulgarian on high place, but because we see how the Commission finally starts getting really interconnected. Because life is much more complicated than one person working in one field, another - in other. Now everything is a mess in the good and bad sense of the word, so we have to have an adequate approach to the different situations. In the case of Ashton, really, where or when was she in Haiti? I don't hear her name except for her weird ideas of EEAS. She is supposed to be a public figure, but she's not really public, right? I don't blame her for her bad French, nobody ought to speak French, no matter what people in France think. I speak French, because I like the language, but I like less and less the country. Anyway, I think Kathrine Ashton should consider very carefully her role in European politics. If I got to be hired in her position in such a miraculous way, I would work my ass off, to improve the EU. No matter if I please or not the people who made me that gift. But in the end, it's all about the EU. I agree with Buzek - in times like this, we need a strong EU. And there are very serious attempts to undermine the EU's stability. That is a fact. And in such situations, all the institutions must work together to help to make the EU stronger. And not to disappear until the next vote in UK, Germany or wherever. This is simply not right.
    Back on the subject, I pasted some articles you might find very interesting in perspective. The battle in the Parliament, the battle in the EC, the moves of Ashton and the final decision, which was approval for her new not-so-centralized version. No words for improved accountability. Which is not so good, but I guess they know what they are doing. After all ever minister has relatives who have to work somewhere. Sad but true. And note how she tried to bribe the MEPs by offering them VIP treatment! Unbelievable...
    Well, that's our EU for the moment. Maybe one day, if people get more interested, things will change. But for now, that's it folks.
    1. EEAS 'incoherence' would breed corruption, Greens warn
    2. Parliament pulls its weight in EEAS negotiations
    3. Three commissioners to act as Ashton's deputies
    4. Buzek suggests electing EU commissioners
    5. Ashton presents new architecture for EU diplomatic service

    EEAS 'incoherence' would breed corruption, Greens warn

    23 March 2010
    There are scandalous cases of corruption in EU peace missions and there would be many more if "grey zones" are not removed from blueprints for setting up the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Green group warned today (23 March).

    There are clear cases of corruption in Afghanistan and Kosovo, and if Parliament does not speak up, a similar system that breeds corruption could be reproduced in the EEAS, German MEP Franziska Brantner (Greens/EFA group) told journalists.

    "There are EU special representatives that have monthly travel budgets of roughly 100,000 euros. And when you ask them 'where do you fly to?', you don't get any answers," she said.

    Under the current system, "you only need the head of the mission to sign," the German MEP said. "It's incredible. There is no budget line for our mission in Somalia. We don't know how much has been spent in Somalia on staff, on building, etc. It's very opaque," she lamented.

    Brantner said that the Lisbon Treaty stipulated one major requirement for the EEAS: that it should be coherent.

    "Coherence must be the yardstick against which we judge the proposals on the table. So far that has not happened," she said, referring to an organigram circulated by Catherine Ashton's services detailing a very loose chain of command for EU peace-keeping activities.

    In particular, Brantner pointed to the CMPD, the recently established Crisis Management and Planning Directorate and the CPCC, the Civilian Implementation Unit responsible for actually carrying out EU missions, which according to the organigram have no common hierarchy except for the secretary-general of the EEAS.

    In her eyes, the EEAS secretary-general appears to be an official with more power than Ashton herself.

    CMPD and CPCC will still receive money from the Commission under what Brantner described as a "system where nobody is responsible".

    Instead, she called for the establishment of a peace-building department, which would integrate both the Commission and Council's operations - the stability instrument and the CFSP budget respectively - as well as EU missions.source


    Parliament pulls its weight in EEAS negotiations

    24 March 2010
    Quality is more important than speed in setting up the European External Action Service (EEAS), leading MEPs said on Tuesday (23 March), signalling that political thinking in Brussels had evolved and that there was no rush to take decisions before the UK elections.

    Brok and Verhofstadt tabled a 'non-paper' outlining the EU assembly's views regarding the Union's future diplomatic service.

    The document is accompanied by an organisational chart which is strikingly different from the one which had already emerged from the services of EU foreign affairs and security chief Catherine Ashton.

    Brok and Verhofstadt insisted that their text represented the Parliament's views across party lines, a position confirmed by Socialist & Democrats (S&D) MEP Adrian Severin, a former Romanian foreign minister present at the conference.

    Compared to the Ashton draft, MEPs want a diplomatic service that is much closer to the European Commission. They also insist that Ashton must be referred to as the HR/VP - High Representative and Commission Vice-President - as her full title indicates.

    Brok attacked in particular what he described as the "French-style" post of secretary-general, envisaged under Ashton's draft, whom he said would run the EEAS web "like a spider".

    Instead, the parliamentarians are proposing that Ashton be assisted by three deputies: one dealing with bilateral affairs, another with multilateral issues and the third dealing with crisis management.

    Speaking to the Parliament's foreign affairs committee, Ashton said the EU Assembly had "a right" to be involved in the process and rejected the interpretation that the EEAS would be "less communautaire" than the Commission.

    She also insisted that the influence of Parliament would not only be "ex ante" through the budget procedure, but also "ex post" through standard budgetary control procedures.

    Answering a question from Kristian Vigenin (S&D; Bulgaria) as to how she was planning to have "a proper geographical distribution of posts, which is important for new and small member countries," Ashton said she wanted "all member states to be represented but it will take time".

    Last but not least, Ashton assured MEPs that they would be offered VIP treatment by her services when travelling abroad. source

    Three commissioners to act as Ashton's deputies

    17 March 2010
    Catherine Ashton, the EU's recently-appointed foreign policy chief, will be able to trim her busy work schedule and counter criticism of her lack of visibility thanks to the assistance of three EU commissioners, who will act as her deputies.

    Štefan Füle, the Czech commissioner for enlargement, Andris Piebalgs, his Latvian colleague responsible for development, and Kristalina Georgieva, the Bulgarian commissioner for humanitarian aid, will all assist Ashton, a Commission official said.

    Catherine Ashton has endured attacks from several quarters, including French ministers, for not flying the EU flag at hotspots such as earthquake-hit Haiti or being unable to attend European gatherings.

    But Commission representatives said the situation was going to change, as the EU's first-ever High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, who is also commissioner for external relations, will now be able to use colleagues as deputies.

    The Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force in December last year, does not provide any deputies for the EU's foreign policy chief. However, when European Commission President José Manuel Barroso first disclosed his new team, asterisks were marked against the names of three commissioners to indicate that they would work in "close cooperation" with Ashton.

    By the same token, national ministers from the 27-member bloc are equally "useable," on the basis of a pre-agreed mandate, to carry the EU's message, the official continued.

    Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, for instance, is widely acknowledged as a Middle East expert, while Sweden's Carl Bildt has extensive expertise in Western Balkan troubleshooting.

    However, the official admitted that the procedures for working out such "deputising" were not yet clear. "We will have to see how deputising will go on in practice," he said.

    Large EU countries such as France and Germany are struggling to place their diplomats in key positions in the EEAS, including the open position of secretary-general and the two deputy secretary-general jobs.

    But according to sources, what those countries are seeking is influence in the EEAS kitchen rather than political visibility. source

    Buzek suggests electing EU commissioners

    23 March 2010
    Jerzy Buzek, the Polish president of the European Parliament, has suggested that future EU commissioners should compete in Europe-wide elections to get a "democratic mandate".

    Buzek, who is on a two-day visit in Berlin, made his proposal during a speech delivered at Humboldt University on Monday (22 March), according to the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

    He suggested a "parlamentarisation" of the European Commission, which he claimed decides about 65% of the laws adopted at the national level.

    "We do not need to change the treaties," Buzek said. "We just have to convince the EU countries to add their commissioner candidates to the lists for the European elections," he explained.

    "These people could be leaders of these lists," he added. "Future commissioners who will compete in the European elections will have a democratic mandate, because they will be elected by universal suffrage," Buzek explained.

    "Citizens and politicians need to know that today by weakening Europe we don't reinforce nation states. [On the contrary] we weaken them," he said.

    "In a globalised world, there won't be strong national countries in Europe if there is no strong European Union. The globalised world undermines EU nation states," Buzek added. source


    Ashton presents new architecture for EU diplomatic service

    26 April 2010
    EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has presented a revised blueprint for the European External Action Service (EEAS) which has been stripped off previous plans for a detailed organisational chart, EurActiv has learned.

    Ashton's revised proposal is due to be discussed by EU foreign ministers on 26 April and will have to be approved by the European Parliament before it can come into effect.

    The new version has been stripped of earlier plans for a detailed organisational chart, which had caused controversy because the top position in the new administration appeared to have been tailor-made for a French-style 'énarque' (EurActiv 30/03/10).

    The reason for this, he explained, was that Ashton did not want to be bound by a strict administrative structure and the service should be allowed to evolve over time.

    From the outset, it appeared that Ashon's tactics were to present a sketchy proposal in order to maximise her chances of getting it through the EU's Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, which both have a say on the new service (EurActiv 22/03/10).

    Although it cannot co-legislate on the structure of the future diplomatic service, the Parliament can veto the financial aspects of the plan.

    Retracting earlier plans to install a powerful secretary-general on top of the EU's new diplomatic service, Ashton is this time proposing a "collegial leadership" of three high officials, one of whom would preside over the EEAS in her absence.

    This official, seen as primus inter pares – first among equals – would be referred to as an "executive secretary- general," the ambassador said.

    Ironically, the diplomat said Ashton would have a wider choice of deputies at a higher political level. One option would be for her to be assisted by the three commissioners in charge of external relations – namely Štefan Füle, the Czech commissioner for enlargement, Andris Piebalgs, his Latvian colleague responsible for development, and Kristalina Georgieva, the Bulgarian commissioner for humanitarian aid (EurActiv 15/03/10).

    The second option is that she would be assisted by the 27 EU member states' foreign ministers, whose meetings Ashton will organise. The third possibility is that she will on occasion be represented by special EU envoys appointed for concrete missions, as is the way in the United States. source



    Stop turf wars over EEAS, top diplomats plead -

    ""The Council reached a political orientation on a draft decision on the establishment of the European External Action Service, as provided for under the Treaty of Lisbon, on the basis of the proposal presented by High Representative Catherine Ashton on 25 March. Today's agreement provides a basis for consulting the European Parliament," reads the official communiqué of the foreign ministers' meeting in Luxembourg."-

    EU institutions preparing staff nationality quotas - The European Commission will present the priorities of its 2010-2014 energy action plan during a meeting of energy ministers at the end of May.
     

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