Archive pour décembre 2010

Solutions to reduce emissions from shipping

Lundi 27 décembre 2010

Shipping transport is the most environmentally friendly mode of transport. However, there is no regulation of international maritime transport emissions, so that ship emissions will increase from 150 to 200% by 2050 if no action is taken. But discussions are ongoing on this subject within the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). On December 20th, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission published a report indicating solutions and options for a policy to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution in the maritime transport, indispensable for the world economy. Indeed, 50,000 merchant ships transport 90% of global goods.

Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire-Geoghegan-Quinn said that this JRC report underlined why pollution from shipping, like that from many other sources, needed to be reduced both to help tackle climate change and to prevent severe damage to human health. It also discusses options for how a combination of technological innovation and market-based policies could deliver the reductions needed. This study is also a perfect example of how the scientific work done by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre can help drive political progress towards the EU’s Innovation Union and Europe 2020 goals.

Although maritime transport has the lowest ratio of CO2 emissions per ton-kilometre transported compared to other modes of transport, its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are expected to increase from the current level of around 1 giga-tonne per year, by an estimated 150-200% over the next four decades.

Moreover, the shipping sector is a source of air pollution. Unless measures are taken, air pollution over the main shipping routes will increase due to an estimated 10-20% rise in sulphur dioxide emissions in the next two years. Marine fuel oil has a very high sulphur content which ranges from a global average of 27,000 ppm (parts per million) to 10,000 ppm in Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs). However, with the new agreement in IMO ships in the Baltic and North Sea SECAS will have to use fuel with only 0.1% of Sulphur content by 2015, as is already the case in the EU ports due to EU legislation.

There is significant potential for abating emissions from the shipping sector. Technical solutions to reduce fuel consumption, air pollutants and greenhouse gases are readily available and range from better ship design, propulsion and machinery to optimised operation.

This new JRC Reference Report contributes to raising awareness of the environmental impacts, including on health, of world-wide shipping. It analyses the methodological issues raised within the scientific community about assessing the impacts of the maritime sector on the environment, and identifies shortcomings in reliable and comprehensive sources of information. A detailed assessment of the cost efficiency and abatement potential of each technological option described in the report is also provided.

However, to achieve significant improvements in the reduction of carbon emissions and air pollution, technological (fuel- and engine-related) solutions should be supplemented with other measures. Market-based options addressing both regional and global measures must also be investigated. The report analyses how the introduction of market-based policies, such as a GHG Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) for the shipping sector at international level, could be used.

In summary, this JRC Reference Report provides the first comprehensive framework in which to define a strategy to abate air emissions from ships, and provides the analytical tools to assist in paving the way towards effective policies.

JRC Reference Reports

JRC Reference Reports represent a JRC view on a subject for which the JRC has recognised expertise. They provide a reference for political decision-makers, the research community, stakeholders and an informed but non-specialist audience. JRC Reference Reports aim to establish the current state of knowledge in specific areas of scientific investigations or in policy assessments.

The legal position on shipping emissions

The Europe 2020 Strategy includes, as a headline target for 2020, the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% compared to 1990 levels or by 30%, if the conditions are right. The scope of this commitment is set out in the EU’s climate and energy legislation. According to this legislation, all sectors of the economy should contribute to achieving these emission reductions, including international maritime shipping and aviation. In the event that no international agreement which includes international maritime emissions in its reduction targets has been approved by the Community by 2011, the Commission should include international maritime emissions in the Community reduction commitment, with the aim of the proposed act entering into force by 2013.

Control hazards related to major accidents involving chemical plants European

Vendredi 24 décembre 2010

On December 21st, the European Commission presented a draft legislation to strengthen rules on safety at European chemical plants. These changes will be incorporated in the Seveso II Directive and update other provisions which will apply from June 1st, 2015. The aim is to introduce stricter rules on inspection standards and improve the level and quality of information available to the public in case of accident.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said that the Seveso II Directive has been instrumental in reducing the likelihood and consequences of chemical accidents. However, such accidents still occur and can often have devastating effects. The Commission cannot compromise with safety. This is why the proposed new rules will further strengthen legislation in this area and ensure the necessary high levels of protection.

The review was prompted by the adoption of rules to align the EU classification system to the UN Globally Harmonised System. It will ensure that the same hazards are described and labelled in the same way all around the world.

Other important changes proposed include stronger provisions relating to public access to safety information, participation in decision-making and access to justice, and improvements to the way information is collected, managed, made available and shared. The proposal also introduces stricter standards for inspections of installations to ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of safety rules.

The remaining changes are technical modifications including simplifications to reduce unnecessary administrative burdens. The revision should maintain and improve current levels of protection without significantly affecting costs.

The proposed new Directive follows a review process that included stakeholder consultation and various studies on the effectiveness of existing rules and the impact of possible options for improvements.

For further information, visit: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/seveso/review.htm

Background

The Seveso II Directive and its predecessor, Seveso I, were prompted by a major accident at a chemical plant in Seveso, Italy, in 1976. The legislation aims to prevent accidents involving large quantities of hazardous substances and applies to around 10,000 industrial establishments in the EU. There is a tiered approach to the level of controls, with larger quantities of chemicals subject to stricter rules. Under the Directive, operators of establishments where hazardous substances are present must notify their activities and establish a major accident prevention policy. Operators of ‘upper tier’ establishments must also establish a safety report and put a safety management system and an internal emergency plan in place. There are also obligations on public authorities relating to external emergency plans and public information on safety measures for upper-tier establishments, domino effects, land-use planning, accident reporting and inspections.

Colombia: 2 million euros have been allocated to help flood victims

Vendredi 24 décembre 2010

Following the torrential rains that fell on Colombia over the last few months, two million people have been affected of floods and landslides. To assist them, the Commission decided on December 22nd, 2010, to provide them an aid of 2 million euro. Thus, 80 000 people will have food, water and sanitation, temporary shelter, first aid equipment and primary health care.

Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said that while the Commission assists the affected Colombian communities, it is aware the extreme weather may continue over the coming months. Heavy rainfall is likely to persist for at least another month, putting even more people at risk of floods. The European Commission will continue to help the most vulnerable among them.

With today’s decision, the total of the European Commission’s 2010 humanitarian aid to flood-affected Colombians reaches € 2.6 million.

Background

The rain season in Colombia has been particularly long this year – it has been raining almost incessantly since March. As of December, 12, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Justice reported 246 people dead, 246 wounded and 2 938 houses had been destroyed as well as 296 340 houses damaged. Over 70,000 Ha of crops have been destroyed.

Complex relations between the EU and China

Vendredi 24 décembre 2010

Europe’s relations with China are contradictory: indeed, Europe calls for respect for human rights but on the other hand, it does not want to offend the economic giant that offers many opportunities for its businesses. Thus, on December 6th, the Human Rights Sub-Committee had discussed the Chinese reaction to the awarding of Nobel Prize to Liu Xiaobo, while the International Trade Committee talked about economy with the China’s Ambassador in Brussels on December 7th.

Human Rights Sub-Committee on the Nobel Prize winner

A great deal of discussion was devoted to the recent Nobel Peace Prize winner and Chinese dissident Lu Xiaobo, who is in prison. The award has drawn criticism from the Chinese authorities and praise from many in the West.

The Chair of the meeting, Slovak MEP Eduard Kukan, said that Parliament would welcome a statement form EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton calling for the release of Lu Xiaobo, his wife and their supporters,

Heidi Hautala, Chair of the Human Rights Sub-Committee and EP vice-president Edward McMillan-Scott attended the Noble prize ceremony, which was held without Lu Xiaobo.

Vincent Metten, the EU policy director for the international campaign for Tibet told the meeting that the courageous attribution of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo reminded the important and brave combat of Chinese opposition and focused the attention on important human rights violations in China.

Tibet troubles MEPs

MEPs also debated the issue of Tibet. At the end of November the European Parliament passed a resolution which condemned plans to make Chinese the language of instruction in Tibet. The text also stressed the need to preserve and protect the distinct cultural, religious and national identity of the 6 million Tibetans.

Ngawang Choephel, President of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation spoke of a “human rights crisis faced by people the people in East Turkistan, Mongolia and Tibet” and “cultural genocide”. He spoke of a crackdown on spiritual leaders, human rights defenders, environmentalists, writers, intellectuals, artists and Tibetan entrepreneurs.

International Trade Committee

Human rights and Tibet were also mentioned by Peter Šťastný (EPP, Slovakia), Carl Schlyter (Greens/EFA, Sweden) during discussions with the Ambassador about trade.

However, several MEPs stressed that economic cooperation had withstood several crises and had continued to deepen.

Ambassador Song stressed the fast changes in the past three decades, not only in economic development, but also of the political institutions and democracy. This progress shouldn’t be neglected.

He noted that there were some areas of notable cooperation between China and the European Union and said that Beijing and Brussels should increase policy coordination to create a favourable environment, oppose trade protectionism and maintain European markets open, expand mutual benefit to motivate stronger cooperation. Mr Song noted that China is a fast growing consumer market, with rapid industrial growth and is building a greener economy and cooperating with the EU in science and technology.

Mr Schlyter urged China to adopt a different mindset to the environment and welcomed the mention of green issues in the Ambassador’s address.

European Breaking Border Awards: Vote for your favorite new European artist in pop music, rock and dance music!

Vendredi 24 décembre 2010

Each year, the European Breaking Border Awards (EBBA) rewards musicians on the bases of the number of albums sold outside their national territory. Now it is up to the European audience to decide who will win the “Public Choice Award” this year! You can now vote for your favorite EBBA winner: Saint Lu (Austria), Stromae (Belgium), Aura Dione (Denmark) ZAZ (France), Baseball (Germany), Caro Emerald (Netherlands), Donkeyboy (Norway) Inna (Romania), Miike Snow (Sweden) and Mumford & Sons (United Kingdom).

Since last year, on top of the “regular” European Border Breakers Awards (EBBA), one of the 10 winning artists receives the Public Choice Award. In order to attribute it, the online voting has started on the following website and will continue until 31 December 2010:

www.europeanborderbreakersawards.eu

The next edition will take place on 12 January 2011, in Groningen, Netherlands, during the opening night of the Eurosonic/Noorderslag festival.

The ceremony will be hosted by TV personality and musician Jools Holland.

Cast your vote and stay tuned for the results on:

www.europeanborderbreakersawards.eu and on www.ec.europa.eu/culture

Ireland: funding for a support plan with the European Financial Stability Mechanism

Jeudi 23 décembre 2010

The European Union and the EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility) established their timetable for collecting funds that will provide financial support to Ireland. The first bond of the EU will be launched in early January, followed by the EFSF one in late January. This will ensure smooth market operations over the entire duration of the support programme. The EU and FESF should however pay attention to the markets after they reopen in the new year and may adjust financial plans accordingly.

Issuances by the EU under the EFSM will be denominated only in euros. The EFSF will also most likely issue in euros, but it does not have any currency limitation for its funding activities and can adapt to market developments. Issues for both EU and EFSF will be mainly in standard benchmark maturities of 5, 7 and 10 years. The EU and the EFSF are rated triple A by the three major rating agencies, Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. Issuances by the EU are executed by the European Commission’s financial operations department located in Luxembourg. They will all be launched through a syndication format. Issuances by the EFSF are executed by the German DMO on behalf of the EFSF. The first transaction of EFSF will be launched through a syndication format.

The Eurogroup and the EU’s Council of Economics and Finance Ministers had decided on 28 November 2010 to grant financial assistance in response to the Irish authorities’ request. The financial package will cover financing needs up to €85 billion. The EU will provide up to €22.5 billion and the EFSF up to €17.7 billion1 over 2011 and 2012.

In the first quarter of 2011, the EU (under the auspices of the EFSM) and the EFSF will disburse €11.7 billion to Ireland in total. Disbursements envisaged by the programme over the subsequent quarters are subject to the requirements of Ireland and to quarterly reviews by the Commission in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and in liaison with the European Central Bank (ECB).

Further support will be made available through the International Monetary Fund (€22.5 billion) and bilateral loans from UK, SE and DK totalling €4.8 billion. Ireland contributes €17.5 billion through the Treasury cash buffer and investments of the National Pension Reserve Fund, which will be used to stabilise the national banking sector.

In 2011 the EU will, under auspices of the EFSM, raise up to €17.6 billion and in 2012 up to €4.9 billion. Based on these amounts, subject to revision and Ireland’s requirements, the EU intends to launch in 2011 4 to 5 benchmark bonds aiming at €3 to €5 billion for each transaction. The EU may complement its funding needs by smaller bond issues, either through taps of issues launched under the EFSM or targeted transactions. In the first half of 2011 the market should expect 3 EU benchmark transactions.

The EFSF in 2011 will raise funds up to €16.5 billion and in 2012 up to €10 billion. It intends, also subject to revision, to launch next year 3 benchmark bonds aiming at €3 to 5 billion for each transaction. The EFSF may complement its funding needs by smaller bond issues, either through taps or through targeted transactions. Syndications, auctions and private placements may be used: In the first half of 2011 the market should expect 2 benchmark issues

Immediate duty free access to the EU market for agricultural products and fishery products originating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

Jeudi 23 décembre 2010

On December 22nd, 2010, the European Commission and the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and Gaza Strip have agreed a draft agreement on further liberalization of agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products originating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Thus, these products will receive immediate duty-free access to EU market for 10 years with a possibility of extending this scheme. The only exception from full liberalisation is the specific duty for imports of fruit and vegetables under the entry price system that will remain applicable if these entry prices are not respected.

Under the framework of the Barcelona Process and in accordance with the Euro-Mediterranean Roadmap for Agriculture (Rabat roadmap) adopted on 28 November 2005, the European Commission entered into negotiations with the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and Gaza Strip on further liberalisation of trade concerning agricultural products, processed agricultural, fish and fishery products. The current Interim Association Agreement already provides for duty-free access to EU markets for Palestinian industrial goods and industrial products.

The Palestinian Authority is the smallest trading partner for the EU in the Euro-Mediterranean region, with total trade amounting to € 56.6 million in 2009. The vast majority of it is accounted for by EU exports (€ 50.5 million). EU imports from the Palestinian Authority amount to just € 6.1 million in 2009 and consist mainly of agricultural products and processed agricultural products (approximately 70.1 % of total EU imports). Further opening to the EU market is expected to support the development of the economy of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip through increased export performance. It is therefore appropriate to grant additional trade preferences to the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by improving access to the European Union market.

The agreement also envisages new provisions on effective administrative cooperation and assistance, in order to ensure that only Palestinian products will benefit from this specific arrangement.

In addition, the EU will complement the granting of additional trade preferences with a package of trade related technical assistance which will further help the Palestinian Authority.

Assessment of the specific measures for agriculture in favour of the outermost regions of the Union and the smaller Aegean islands

Jeudi 23 décembre 2010

Specific measures supports agriculture in the outermost regions and the Aegean islands in order to overcome the constraints of economic and social situation of these regions. The European Court of Auditors published a report on the effectiveness of these measures following the 2006 reform.

The specific measures for agriculture in favour of the outermost regions of the European Union and the smaller Aegean islands were created to take account of the regions’ structural, social and economic situation. The European Court of Auditors has assessed the effectiveness of the specific measures after their reform in 2006. The reform involved a shift towards greater regional participation, and to decentralisation and flexibility in decision-making, on the basis of programmes presented by Member States for approval by the European Commission

In general, the Court noted that the specific measures were effective and extremely important for agriculture in the regions concerned. However, the Court identified a number of weaknesses in the management of the arrangements which provide room for further improvements in the specific measures.

The Court concludes that the new bottom-up, decentralised approach introduced by the 2006 reform of the specific measures has not been sufficiently applied in order to improve the effectiveness of the existing measures. During the programming and approval phase of the programmes, over a period of only six months, the Commission gave priority to the task of monitoring the compliance and consistency of the programmes rather than assuming its role as a manager, and thus actively contributing to the design of the programmes so as to ensure they were effective. This finding also applies to the procedure for modifying the programmes for subsequent years.

As regards the implementation of the programmes, the Court identified measures or actions which are likely to be at best partly effective as a result of their design. In addition, the existing control systems in the Member States concerned are not always suited to the diverse nature of the specific measures.

The Commission does not monitor the effectiveness of the specific measures regularly enough; it mainly confines itself to evaluating the measures over a five-year period. The annual implementation reports provided by the Member States are not harmonised enough to constitute a management information system for the Commission.

On the basis of its observations, the Court makes recommendations intended to help the Commission and the Member States concerned improve the way the specific measures are managed.

Ivory Coast: 5 million euro have been allocated to respond to the humanitarian crisis

Jeudi 23 décembre 2010

On December 22nd, 2010, the European Commission has developed an aid package to help threatened populations in Ivory Coast. 100 000 people are concerned by these relief efforts to improve their safety and ensure access to health services, water, food and housing.

Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian aid & Crisis Response, stated that Commission is concerned about the developments in the Ivory Coast and their possible impact on the neighbouring countries. While it hopes for a rapid political settlement of the crisis, it is the duty of the Commission to prepare contingency plans and ensure that any humanitarian aid that is needed is available to the victims without delay.

To this date, turmoil has caused large-scale displacement in the Ivory Coast. Over 11,000 refugees have been registered in neighbouring countries, mainly Liberia, Guinea and Ghana.

Background

The disputed outcome of the national elections, won by Alassane Ouattara, has resulted in a severe crisis, marked by increasing violence. A large number of people has been affected, which is pushing up the risk of a regional refugee crisis.

Fighting human trafficking : a new website by the European Commission

Mercredi 22 décembre 2010

On 21 December 2010, the European Commissioner for Internal Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, has launched a new website dedicated to the fight against trafficking in human beings. Was therefore held a joint press conference with European coordinator of the fight against trafficking in human beings, Mrs. Myria Vassiliadou, who was recently appointed by the Commission.

Commissioner Malmström stated: “The fight against trafficking in human beings is one of my top priorities. I hope that the website that we launch today will play an important part in that work, as it will help practitioners, inform the public, and ensure providing support to the victims of this horrific crime. Last week’s vote in the European Parliament was very welcome, as we are now one step closer to more harmonised legislation across the EU. The recent appointment of Ms Vassiliadou as Anti Trafficking Coordinator will further strengthen our actions within this field.”

Myria Vassiliadou also welcomed the initiative: “In my new capacity as EU Anti Trafficking Coordinator I will do my best to ensure coherence and efficiency of both policies and efforts of those involved in the fight against human trafficking within the EU. I hope that this website will help raising awareness about human trafficking, while also contributing to the cooperation and mutual understanding among law enforcement agencies, national authorities and others”.

The website should become a one stop shop at EU level for practitioners and the public interested in knowing more about trafficking and how it is being addressed within the EU. The website will include national information pages of all EU Member States with factual information on legislation, action plans, coordination, prevention, assistance and support to victims, investigation and prosecution and international coordination.

Background

On 14 December, the European Parliament endorsed a proposal for a Directive on trafficking in human beings, which the Commission put forward in March 2010. This Directive will oblige EU Member States to act on three fronts: prosecuting criminals responsible for trafficking human beings, protecting the victims and preventing the offences. Once the text is formally adopted by the Council, Member States will have up to two years to comply with the new rules, which will replace current EU legislation dating from 2002 (Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA). It will apply to all EU Member States except Denmark and the United Kingdom.

On the very same day, the Commission appointed Ms Myria Vassiliado as the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator. She will get a central role in the coordination of EU policies within this field (IP/10/1715).