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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Schengen madness - or is One Europe a myth, 2011

Today, I'm gonna paste some articles related to the French manipulation to oust Bulgaria and Romania from the Schengen zone. I'm personally ashamed of what happened during those months. It is just one more proof that Western Europe is not ready for one united Europe. They continue to treat some countries, Bulgaria and Romania in particular, as second hand countries and that puts into question the very idea of the EU. You might wonder why I don't post that regularly here anymore. Well, this is the reason. Because I'm very disappointed by the discrimination against my country and Romania. And while Romanians don't fear to tell what they think, our government is quite as always.

But I want to speak up, because what happened is so damn wrong! Because it is a public secret that the real problem is Greece. Everybody knows it, many international analysts pointed it out. The question is why France has a problem working with Greece and insisting that they keep European borders strong, but they have absolutely no problem in treating Bulgaria and Romania like garbage, breaking European laws in the process. Because as you probably remember the case with Bulgarian and Romanian Gypsies who were repatriated forcefully (or in exchange of 200 euros !), this went against the very founding principles of the EU. Yet, France had not problem doing what they did. Yes, there is a legal option for that, but still is it moral? No, it isn't and it wasn't. Because as I pointed out back then, Western Europe solved their problems with Gypsies by either sending them to the Nazzis or sending them to Eastern Europe. Ok, Spain is excluded. But that's the real thing. We have so many poor and uneducated gypsies partially because of that. True, we had to socialize them and to integrate them, we didn't. But this is a social problem, you don't solve it by sending back the unpleasant people and saying - fix them. We cannot do it alone, and not solely because of the money, we do need expert help on place, not from the heights of Brussels.

Anyway, back to France, I can't help but ask "Why do they think they have the right to act like this?". With what exactly France is better than any other country in the EU. For Germany, I can understand, they give a great deal of the money, they can play "Big" every now and then. But France...Should we all worship that name? With what exactly are they better or more important than us? I don't get it. I like France as a country, I speak French, yet I really disprove their attitude towards Eastern Europe. Because we're not second hand people. Historically we went trough a great deal of crap, we still try to find ourselves and rebuild our society to what it should be. We have many problems, but we are not worst people than other Europeans. What's even more, we want to change, we want to improve and get better! We go trough so many painful changes in the name of the EU. And what we got in return for our enthusiasm on joining the EU, on working for the European cause, is mostly coldness and discrimination.

When actually French government is the non-European one. Because they go against the European idea. We don't. We don't have nothing to lose anyway (well, as long as the Turkish borders exist). We really try to learn from the EU, it's slow, but we do change. What countries like France (or UK) do is only to stop progress and resist the real European open market and the real open Europe as a whole by favoring two-speeds Europe. Why?

Many of you may think that France has a point. Well, if we talk about European borders, they do have a point. They have many points. The question is what they do with those points, how they act upon them. I understand why Europe is so afraid of the Turkish borders. We are also afraid of them. But instead of offering a solution, they say - "you're not gonna be the European border". And they say it in an extremely nasty way. To Romanians they say it's because of Bulgaria, to Bulgarians, that it's because of Romania or Greece. They seed mistrust, they cause problems. They make us feel guilty we're not ready. When this is not the truth. We shouldn't be blamed. If Europe has a problem with Turkey's borders, then it should be solved by Europe as a union. And not just wiped under the carpet by saying "No Schengen for you, fuck off.". Which is basically what happened!

And what's even more, some countries continue to try to convince us that the closed markets protect the national interests. But I have one question. Which country is strong enough to fight economically with China? Which one?! Some people live under the illusion they are global powers, when they practically live on ever-increasing debt. We can survive only as a whole. Yet, Sarkozy sends French fighters for a walk in Libya, instead of focusing on real problems in Europe; all the countries protect their own industries as much as they can and nobody worries about the real big problem. And that problem is that the world is not the same as 20 years ago. The world has changed. There are new big powers in it and Europe isn't one of them for the moment. Just ask who owns our debts and you'll see for yourself. And in a different situation, we need different attitude. We need to unite. Not by ruining Irish corporate tax, because it doesn't fit French and German interests, but by finding a way to be stronger together. Because we try to build a Union by always taking care of national interests first. And then by imposing those interests on weaker member-states without asking what's good for them. Well, how could this work? How could the whole Union of 27 countries progress if all we care are German, French and English interests?! That makes absolutely no sense. Because what is good for Western Europe is not always good for Eastern Europe. We are different and we should all be important. Otherwise, ok, the UK, France and Germany will continue to progress and get richer, the other 24 countries will get poorer. But since we are in the EU, richer countries will have to pay for poorer ones one way or another, so the richness of the first 3 will be lost, dissipated because of their own stupidity. And breaking away from the EU won't solve the question, because our economies are way too dependent upon each other already. So why do we have to do it the stupid way? We have to change and we have to start thinking like Europeans. And Europeans don't treat other Europeans like trash, just because it's easier than being honest. Real Europeans see the big picture and find the place of each piece in it - no matter if it is small or big. We can all contribute, but we are not allowed to. Why?

That's from me. Since radical parties are popular in Europe, I'm not sure if anyone will agree with me, but I hope I'll be able to convince at least some people. Because the world is really different today. And all you need to do is a little research on the numbers instead of populist statements, to see where the money are and how there is not free dinner. And after you see where they are, think what is more important - to protect your own production or "values" on every cost, or to find a way to work and progress together with other countries. Countries that won't to survive just like you, and that are not your enemies, but your allies. This is what one Europe should be about. Solidarity for the sake of progress of the EU as a whole.

Today:
  1. France blocks Romania, Bulgaria's Schengen bids
  2. Romania wants Croatia to pay for Schengen setback
  3. Employers, unions at odds over international staff transfers
  4. Berlin, Paris open to compromise on economic pact

France blocks Romania, Bulgaria's Schengen bids

14 December 2010
France produced new arguments yesterday (8 December) to support its position that Romania and Bulgaria are not ready to the join Europe's visa-free Schengen travel zone, citing poor border and immigration controls.
European Affairs Minister Laurent Wauquiez told parliament that France will refuse to get involved in "weakening our borders and the capacity of Europe to manage and control its flow of migrants," news agency AFP reported.
"What France says is very simple – that it is well understood that Romania and Bulgaria do not have a closed door," he said.
Romania currently does not recognise its border with Moldova, allowing migrants to flow across the frontier.
Moldova and Romania signed a border treaty last month, a move which was welcomed by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. Unfortunately, days later, Mihai Ghimpu, acting president of Moldova, described the treaty as 'illegal and unconstitutional'.
Ghimpu said he would challenge the treaty in the Constitutional Court, if and when it is ratified by Moldova's parliament. As Moldova is in the process of forming a new government, it is difficult to forecast the future legal status of the signed document.
But the French minister also alluded to the fact that Sofia and Bucharest were not capable of securing their borders in the wider sense. "If we trust them with our borders, it is justifiable that we could expect all guarantees that the borders are well-guarded with enough customs officers to exercise all the vigilance that we have a right to expect," he said.
Accession to the EU border-free area has been one of the highest priorities both in Sofia and Bucharest. In Bulgaria, the country's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov deliberately choose not to criticise Paris for its expulsions of Bulgarian Roma, hoping that in exchange, France would not veto his country's Schengen bid.However, EU experts told EurActiv that separate accession for Bulgaria was "out of the question".
For now, Greece is territorially separated from the rest of the Schengen area, and with the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, travelers from Greece could reach the rest of the Union without any border controls. This in fact may be the French minister's real concern, an EU diplomat said.
A crossing favoured by illegal immigrants at Nea Vyssa–Orestiada is only a few kilometres from the Greece-Bulgaria border.For the time being, Bulgaria's borders are well-guarded and according to the Bulgarian press, no immigration spill-over has been taking place in Bulgaria.
But when Bulgaria and Romania join Schengen, the Greece-Bulgaria border may no longer be guarded and the situation could change, experts warned.
 source

Romania wants Croatia to pay for Schengen setback 

05 January 2011
 Angered by France and Germany's decision to postpone Romania's accession to the EU's border-free Schengen area, Bucharest has warned that it could unilaterally leave an EU mechanism to monitor its law-enforcement system. Romania also said it would insist that the same mechanism be applied to Croatia.
Speaking to the daily Adevarul, Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Bachonschi said that in response to a recent decision by France and Germany to postpone Romania's accession to the Schengen space, his country had "two options".
One, he said, was that Romania could admit its failures and follow in the footsteps of Bulgaria by starting to negotiate with the two older EU members.
But Baconschi immediately insisted that this was not the right option, as the "correct" and "dignified" response is in his view to block attempts by Paris and Berlin to establish "a two-speed Europe".
He thus warned that Romania could leave the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), which was set up by the European Commission to accompany Romania and Bulgaria's accession to the EU in 1 January 2007.
When Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, they were placed under special monitoring to assist them in reforming their juridical systems and combating corruption. In the case of Bulgaria, the fight against organised crime was highlighted as a particular problem. Since then, regular reports have revealed only limited progress.
The CVM has never been used in the case of other countries' EU accessions. In an exclusive interview for EurActiv last March, Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle said his services would do everything in their power to ensure that Croatia should join without such a tool. Croatia is expected to conclude its accession negotiations under the current Hungarian EU Presidency.
Baconschi said that his country had reformed its judiciary and the CVM was now used by older EU members for "other purposes," this becoming "a handicap" for Romania.
"If the CVM is maintained not as a means of cooperation, but as a way to put pressure [on Romania] in other areas, we don't need to keep it. Let's look at Croatia. We support the EU's enlargement to the Western Balkans. But we cannot accept this accession taking place without the CVM in a situation where the CVM applies to us," the Romanian minister said.
Baconschi also hinted that France was more opposed than Germany to Romania's Schengen accession, admitting that there had been setbacks in economic cooperation between Bucharest and Paris.
The Romanian press reported statements by politicians according to whom France had punished Romania, after officials in Bucharest had asked for "African-style kickbacks," or very large bribes, from French company Vinci in return for a contract to build a motorway linking the cities of Comarnic and Braşov.
 source

Employers, unions at odds over international staff transfers

17 January 2011
Multinational companies and unions are struggling to find common ground on European Commission proposals for an EU directive on intra-corporate transfers (ICTs), which aims to make it easier for key staff members with special skills to work in the EU on a temporary basis.
In today's globalised economy, many companies have activities in several different countries and move key senior managers and technical experts from one country to another.
A number of EU member states already have special schemes to provide temporary work and residence permits to these so-called 'intra-corporate transferees'. Other member states treat them in the same way as any other migrant workers coming from outside the EU.
The current situation makes life very complicated for companies as they face 27 different sets of rules and procedures, and often experience long delays in the processing of applications for residence and work permits.
Last summer, the European Commission proposed a new directive to introduce a common set of rules and procedures that will streamline and simplify the granting of residence and work permits to intra-corporate transferees.
The plan includes the European Blue Card scheme, currently being rolled out by member states, and directives on temporary workers and intra-corporate transfers (ICTs).Once it has been approved by the Council and the Parliament, the directive on ICTs will speed up admission to the bloc of transferees from outside the Union, so that work and residence permits can be obtained in not more than 30 days. The directive will also make it easier for transferees to bring their families with them, and to work in more than one member state if their employer asks them to do so.
"It's high time that Europe started making itself more attractive, because competition for workers will increase in the future," continued the Commission official. "Not just in the EU, but also in the US and Canada, and within a few years China. So it is very much in our interest to be more of a magnet for migration."The draft directive on ICTs includes strict limits on the amount of time that a transferee can work in the EU. The maximum length of stay for managers and specialists would be three years, while trainees would not be allowed to stay in the EU for longer than 12 months.
But, in accordance with the EU Treaties, each member state will retain control over how many non-EU workers are allowed in the country.
The Commission's proposals on intra-corporate transfers are strongly supported by multinational companies.
However, European trade unions are afraid that some companies might abuse any new procedures and find ways of bringing cheaper workers from outside the EU, instead of providing jobs for European workers. source

Berlin, Paris open to compromise on economic pact 

10 February 2011
A controversial six-point German plan to boost economic coordination in the euro zone is likely to be watered down in the coming weeks as the bloc zeroes in on a comprehensive package to solve its sovereign debt crisis.
The response to Merkel's 'Competitiveness Pact', presented with the backing of French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a Friday summit of leaders from the 27-nation bloc, has been greeted by many member states with criticism.
Yesterday (8 February), Italy's foreign minister dismissed Berlin's proposals on tax harmonisation as unrealistic. Belgium and Luxembourg have vowed to fight its push to abolish links between wages and inflation. Even close ally Austria has complained about the idea to increase the retirement ages.
But German officials have made clear since the backlash erupted at the summit in Brussels late last week that they see ample room for compromise on the pact they put together in consultation with France.
EU officials also believe Germany is prepared to back down on some of its demands, notably that wage indexation be done away with - an idea some suggest Berlin was never wedded to but added to the pact purely as a negotiating chip.Speaking in Paris French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said yesterday that the goal of the pact was not to make European economies model themselves on Germany but to promote their own domestic best practices with the aim of making the entire bloc more competitive.
The competitiveness pact, due to be agreed at a European summit on 24-25 March, aims instead for a gradual harmonisation of corporate tax policies, she said.
What could survive, EU sources suggest, is Germany's demand that its eurozone partners write debt limits into national law and link their pension policies to demographic factors. source
My comment: View more on this here: Franco-German fiscal pact faces opposition. And then tell me, is it normal for 2 countries to present an economical pact expect all the other 25 countries to accept it just like that. Is this the way decision should be made in the EU?
 

More:

Commission sets first emissions cap for aviation sector - Emissions trading for the aviation sector will start in January 2012 with a yearly allowance of 213 million tonnes of CO2, the European Commission said yesterday (7 March), announcing the EU's first key measure to reduce the impact of air travel on global warming.-

UN says 2% of world GDP will buy fair green growth- Annual investment of €950 billion – or 2% of global GDP – in ten key sectors could kickstart moves to a "low-carbon, resource-efficient green economy," according to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

EU to ban six toxic chemicals in household plastics -  The European Union will ban six toxic chemicals within three to five years, three of which are commonly used in plastic household items, the European Commission said on Thursday (17 February).
Among the compounds are three plastic softening phthalates, a musk fragrance, a flame retardant and a hardener for epoxy resin, the Commission said.
Ahmadinejad visit shows Turkey’s diplomatic emancipation - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad joined regional leaders for an economic summit in Turkey yesterday (23 December), a month before nuclear talks with six major powers in Istanbul. - Emancipation?! Interesting choice of words.

Kroes: Commission 'not shy' on Hungarian media law - Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said yesterday (11 January) that the European Commission would not make any compromise and would make sure EU law is implemented fully in the case of the controversial Hungarian media law. 
Kroes also appeared to indicate that her services did not trust a 194-page English translation of the Hungarian law, provided by the Hungarian authorities. She said her services had requested a copy of the original law in Hungarian, which will be translated by the Commission.
Among the most controversial elements of the Hungarian media law, Kroes cited a registration regime applying to bloggers and to Internet media, which is without precedent in Europe except in Belarus and also applies to media writing in Hungarian that publish in other countries. She also mentioned the "quite wide" scope of the term "balanced information".-

EU lets financial watchdogs off the leash - An array of new European financial supervisory bodies designed to monitor and avert future economic crises on the continent have opened their doors for business.
As well as scanning markets, banks, insurance and stock, the new agencies can alert EU countries to potential risks to financial stability, such as speculative bubbles. They will also have the power to recommend Europe-wide technical standards and, in emergency situations, temporarily ban or restrict trade in financial products and services.   - 

Commission tries to simplify cross-border legal disputes - In a move to speed up cross-border legal disputes and cut costs, the European Commission on Tuesday (14 December) approved broad changes to rules concerning court cases for businesses and consumers. -
 Journalists voice concerns over abusive phone tapping -
The controversy surrounding the Hungarian media law has triggered heated comments in EU circles, but few have bothered to look at the situation in other countries. EurActiv's network takes up the challenge with this second article focusing on Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. -

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Patents near, but how near?! Decision expected TODAY!

Today:

  1. Parliament to press ahead with EU patent
  2. Brussels lays down plans for permanent bailout mechanism
  3. UK, Netherlands block 2011 EU budget
  4. Commission proposes ban on industrial gas offsets
  5. Lawmakers seal deal on toxic substances in electronic goods
  6. Brussels plans asset freeze for bad payers
Quote of the day:An unexpected confession that the West do have a problem with the East. But we have even bigger problem here, because USA still has visas for countries like Bulgaria and Romania, thus I don't see how the procedures for Europeans can be simplified, if there are no "Europeans".

Parliament to press ahead with EU patent

22 February 2011
Despite doubts over the legality of the proposed linguistic regime, the European Parliament is expected to give its green light tomorrow (15 February) to using the so-called 'enhanced cooperation' procedure to launch a common EU patent system without Spain and Italy on board.
EU ministers are expected to formalise the launch of the so-called "enhanced cooperation" procedure at a 9-10 March meeting of the Competitiveness Council.The European Commission will then formally table legislative proposals, which are expected to reach the European Parliament in May for a first reading.
From a legal point of view, the jurisdictional regime appears to the most fragile. A crucial ruling of the European Court of Justice is expected on 8 March, one day before the Council meeting, at which ministers are expected to confirm the use of the "enhanced cooperation" mechanism.The original proposal foresees the establishment of a European Patent Court (EPC) to deal with possible cross-border disputes and spare plaintiffs from having file separate lawsuits in every member state where a patent is registered, as is the case now.
However, concerns have been raised regarding the status of the new court. In an opinion issued in July, the Advocates General of the European Court of Justice stated that the new tribunal could be out of step with EU legislation and jurisprudence, declaring the proposal "incompatible with the treaties".
The opinion also condemned the draft proposal due to its linguistic regime, which is based on three official languages – English, French and German. This trilingual system "may affect the rights of defence" of companies based in countries that use a different language, the Advocates General wrote.
"Traditionally, the Court replicates the opinion of the Advocates General in 80% of the cases," an official at the Court of Justice told EurActiv.
If the Court were to reject the proposed jurisdictional regime, a completely new scenario could unfold, sending the Commission back to the drawing board and delaying the entire legislative process.In the European Parliament, opposition by MEPs from Spain and Italy could gather momentum and attract members from other countries.
The initial idea of introducing a system based on English only could resurface as concerns about jurisdiction are also based on linguistic grounds. Indeed, the English-only regime – backed by Italy and Spain – would not only be cheaper and simpler, but also fairer, as it would avoid giving French and German companies a competitive advantage.
 source
My comment: I have already commented extensively patents so I'll say pure and simply two things. Common patent system is BADLY needed. And the three-lingual system is WRONG! It's obvious that it gives preference to German and French people and companies, while everyone else should pay translators and advocates so that patents are translated in usable language. Thus I very much hope that the Court will agree with that, but who knows. France and Germany are so powerful. For me, the only right option is to go for English and one other European language. Because all the technical literature is already in English. And the other language is courtesy to Europe and its variety.

Brussels lays down plans for permanent bailout mechanism

02 December 2010
With the future of the euro currency in the balance, the European Commission on Wednesday (1 December) outlined details for a permanent strategy to help countries at risk of defaulting on their debts.
The European Commission presented plans for fundamental treaty changes that will extend the current aid mechanism – the European Financial Stability Facility – beyond its 2013 sunset provision.
Details of the proposal will be debated by European leaders at their next EU summit on 16-17 December.
The changes, which have been rumoured in financial markets for weeks, would increase risk for sovereign investors. Under the proposal, bonds issued after June 2013 would include a provision to allow creditors to renegotiate new terms if the country is on the brink of insolvency.
The new clause would enable creditors to vote by qualified majority to agree changes to the terms of payment. That means some bondholders may be forced to take a loss on their investments.
Investor involvement would be decided on a case-by-case basis in line with practices of the International Monetary Fund, according to the Commission.
The changes, drafted by Council President Herman Van Rompuy, were endorsed on 28 November by the finance ministers of the 16 countries that use the euro currency. The agreement went hand-in-hand with the €85 billion rescue package for Ireland and was designed to help stem the contagion from spreading to other countries, such as Portugal, Spain and Belgium.
 sourceMy comment: See also " Euro ministers to boost rescue fund - Eurozone finance ministers meeting today (6 December) will face pressure to increase the size of a 750 billion euro safety net for crisis-hit members in order to halt contagion in the single currency bloc." My very short and concise opinion is that it's ridiculous that while the EC tries to fix credit interests for SME and people, they do quite the opposite for countries in trouble. And I don't see how it will help the countries who need debt, if the creditors are able to change interests on the whim, just because they don't like the smell of the situation. It just adds to the uncertainty of the already bad situation.

UK, Netherlands block 2011 EU budget 

22 November 2010
European Parliament negotiators failed to overcome opposition from the UK and the Netherlands to the 2011 budget yesterday night (15 November), calling into question funding for ambitious projects such as the EU diplomatic service and the ITER nuclear reactor.
Negotiations between the European Parliament and the EU's 27 finance ministers collapsed at midnight over some countries' insistence on more austerity in the bloc's finances.
If the impasse continues, the 2011 EU budget will be maintained at this year's level and disbursed monthly in 12 equal installments. The last time this happened was in 1988.
Sources close to the negotiations told EurActiv that the impasse was caused by the intransigence of London and The Hague, which insisted on more austerity in the EU budget, in line with spending cuts introduced in most EU countries to fend off the crisis.
A consensus seemed to have emerged on increasing the 2011 budget by 2.91%, a figure supported by London and accepted by eleven other countries at an October EU summit .But problems emerged on the issue of a so-called 'reallocation flexibility' mechanism, which allows reserve funds to be used up to a maximum of 0.03% of Gross National Income (GNI).
The mechanism, which has been in place for many years, allows for up to 0.03% of the bloc's GNI to be tapped into with the approval of EU member states voting by qualified majority.
Nevertheless, some countries insisted that any payments should be agreed by unanimity. Seen from the MEPs' perspective, London wants to make unanimous voting the rule in decisions to reallocate flexible spending.
London asked for the issue to be addressed at an EU summit on 16-17 December, diplomats said.Failure to agree on the reallocation flexibility endangers the financing of programmes such as ITER, an international project to design and build an experimental fusion reactor in France, a source explained.
Another payment which now appears to be in jeopardy is a commitment to pay 190 million euros to banana-producing countries following a decision to discontinue preferential import tariffs. Similarly, 300 million euros of compensation to Bulgaria for having closed down four of its nuclear reactors also hangs in the balance.
The usage of 'unspent' funds from the EU budget, such as the recent five billion euro package for clean energy and broadband Internet, would also be discontinued, according to Parliament sources.
Payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) would also be in jeopardy, as major payments are made in January and February for which the usual monthly installments will not suffice, he warned.
The Commission now needs to propose a new draft budget. sourceMy comment: News in brief - some countries really don't want to spend money on anything. Because they kind of named all the EU projects that could be named. I don't know what actually happened with the budget (but you can see it here: EU approves 2011 budget, but battle is not over), but it doesn't matter. The point is that the vase is broken. Member-states are increasingly getting protectionists, not wanting to pay for anything that is not theirs and the solidarity clause goes to hell. And since we're already in a very connected market situation, this does bad to everyone. Yet nobody cares.

Commission proposes ban on industrial gas offsets

10 December 2010
The European Commission yesterday (25 November) presented plans to ban the use of controversial international offset credits from certain industrial gas projects in the EU's cap-and-trade system after 2012.
The proposal would bar HFC-23, a refrigerant gas with a global warming potential 11,700 times that of CO2, from its emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) from 1 January 2013.
The ban would also apply to nitrous oxide credits from adipic acid production, used mainly to manufacture nylon.
Projects that destroy the potent greenhouse gas HFC-23, mainly in China and India, have so far produced the majority of international offset credits surrendered to the EU ETS. They have provided European companies with a cheap way to comply with their emissions reduction obligations.
The Commission said the restrictions would provide an incentive to reform the UN's carbon market mechanisms, which the EU sees as a prerequisite for their continuation. It would also remove obstacles to developing sectoral crediting mechanisms by creating sufficient demand for them, it said.
Eradicating industrial gas credits would also help shift investment under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) from emerging economies to less well-developed countries, the Commission said.
sourceMy comment: Here I totally agree. It's kind of stupid to pay to growing economies - direct competition to European companies, money that come from Europe and are aimed to lower the cost of European production. Anyone got me? Well, probably no, since there's absolutely no logic in the whole thing. Because the more we pay China, the stronger it gets and the weaker becomes EU economy. And that's not only stupid, it's crazy.

Lawmakers seal deal on toxic substances in electronic goods

25 November 2010
An updated EU law on restricting the use of toxic chemicals in electronic devices leaves little room for exemptions and lists a number of new substances for further scientific scrutiny in view of extending a black list of banned substances.
The European Parliament's environment committee yesterday (24 November) adopted a compromise deal on updating existing legislation on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in electronic and electrical equipment.
The first-reading agreement was adopted with 640 votes in favour, three against and 12 abstentions.
The amended directive has a global impact, since it applies also to goods imported from third countries and not just to those produced in the EU.
It will also influence how electronic waste is dealt with abroad, as most of it is currently shipped illegally in developing countries and processed there, often in sub-standard conditions.
The Parliament voted to widen the scope of the directive from a specific list of items to all electrical and electronic appliances – unless specifically excluded. The idea is to achieve greater legal clarity on what is covered by the law.
Phones, fridges, TVs and most other common household items are already covered by existing legislation. But extending the directive's scope will mean some products – such as talking teddy bears and laboratory equipment - will need to conform for the first time.
The open scope will come into force after an eight-year transition period.
Photovoltaic solar panels, fixed industrial machinery and military material are among equipment that will remain outside the rules.
 Lawmakers also ensured that nanomaterials are cited as due for further scientific scrutiny.Specific uses of blacklisted substances may be permitted if this is in the general interest of health and consumer safety and if there are no reliable alternatives. Any such exemptions will, however, be time-limited and subject to a stricter reapplication process.
sourceMy comment: Wee! Nice. Even though it's not particularly restrictive as there is still the possibility of exemptions, but anyway, this is a war against the producers, and we won at least one battle. Because after all, everyone wants to produce cheap and sell a lot and be rich. The point is that if it hurts people or environment, you should find another way to produce it. And I think people got that point. I only wait to see what will happen with nanomaterials , which are the next big battle.

Brussels plans asset freeze for bad payers 

01 March 2011
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding wants to support small companies that engage in cross-border trade by introducing a European order to freeze the bank accounts of bad payers across borders.
The European Commission estimates that 63% of cross-border debt is not recovered, mainly due to bureaucratic obstacles and legal uncertainty.
Overall, the debt written off by EU business amounts to €55 billion a year, according to an internal paper by the EU executive.
However, procedures to recover domestic debt vary widely from one country to another. Legal certainty is therefore not always guaranteed for cross-border claims, since creditors may face completely different legal systems and rules.
"I want to make the recovery of cross-border debts as easy as recovering debts domestically. Trust is the currency of our single market," Commissioner Reding told EurActiv in an emailed statement.
A European order to freeze bank accounts may serve this purpose. It would introduce a simple common procedure allowing creditors across the EU to block a foreign bank account owned by a long-term debtor.
The measure is seen as an important tool to boost cross-border business activities within the single market. Banks are the main opponents of this plan because they fear they will be forced to bear the cost of monitoring and eventually blocking the accounts of clients hit by a freezing order.
To allay their concerns, the Commission is thinking of making debtors themselves pay for the extra cost. The maximum amount to be frozen "should include the amount of the claim, the legal fees and any interest. To simplify matters, the amount of the claim could be increased by a fixed percentage to cover costs and interest," reads the Commission document. source
My comment: This is also a great idea, but I don't understand how will they know how much to freeze and what interest to charge. With court order or? If it's with court order, it can work. But without it, it will open the door for trans-border fiasco. Also a common interest for the whole EU or the interest in the country of the debtor or of the bank. And which one - at least here, different banks have different interests rates. It's complicated issue, but I wish them luck, because it's a step further on real open Europe and not the lie we're living in now.


EU countries launch North Sea electricity grid - Ten European countries, including Norway, have agreed to develop an offshore electricity grid in the North Sea, in a bold move that promoters say will give Europe the opportunity to tap into an even bigger source of energy than the Middle East's oil capacity. 
Ministers agreed to coordinate their investments for developing offshore connections between Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway and Belgium. Ministers also pledged to tackle barriers to cross-border electricity trade.-That's a great first step to pan-European grid. I wish them luck.

Modest steps in Cancún keep UN climate process alive - Some 190 nations agreed to a compromise text on Friday night which makes progress on a number of issues, including forest protection and the establishment of a Green Fund to deliver climate cash to developing countries.
The agreement largely transcribes the Copenhagen Accord, adopted by some 140 countries after the December 2009 summit in the Danish capital, into a UN document. It officially recognises that the goal should be to halt global climate change to 2°C.
The text lists the emissions reduction pledges made so far and officially recognises them as part of the UN process. - The title should read - no progress at all.

Italy shields companies from CO2 cuts, says NGO - Italian taxpayers are set to pay €1.7 billion for unnecessary international carbon credits to meet the country's obligations under the Kyoto Protocol while Italy's government hands out free allowances to companies, according to climate NGO Sandbag.
At the same time, the government will grant superfluous permits corresponding to 166 million tonnes of carbon for select installations under the EU's emissions trading scheme (EU ETS), the report shows.

EU court rules in favour of 'unisex' insurance - Starting from 2012, insurance companies will no longer be able to charge different premiums for men and women, after the European Court of Justice ruled against using gender-based criteria to set prices. - I agree with that, because just being woman or man doens't make you better or worst driver. And I don't feel any pity for insurance companies who need to adjust their prices. You can't only take, right?

US businesses call for 'IQ alliance' with Europe - The American Chamber of Commerce to the EU is calling for simpler visa procedures to make it easier for scientists and researchers to move between Europe and the United States, in response to competition from emerging economies such as China and India. - An unexpected confession that the West do have a problem with the East. But we have even bigger problem here, because USA still has visas for countries like Bulgaria and Romania, thus I don't see how the procedures for Europeans can be simplified, if there are no "Europeans". And of course, this article assumes that people want to go to work in the USA. Which is kind of old-fashioned...:)
 

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