Saturday 25 October 2014

Editor's Choice

Why is the UK being asked to pay in more to the EU budget and what can it do about it?

By Open Europe There are a number of headlines today around the EU’s request for a further €2.1bn from the UK in terms of its contribution to the EU’s budget. We breakdown exactly how and why this has happened and what options the UK has now.

 

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Zagreb Mayor arrested – and not before time

Posted by Bankwatch on 20th October 2014

Something quite amazing happened yesterday evening in Zagreb. The Croatian police and the State Prosecutor announced that several people had been arrested on suspicion of a number of criminal corruption offences, abuse of office and peddling influence. Among the arrested were Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic, Head of Zagreb Holding municipal company Slobodan Ljubicic, the head of the ZET public transport company Ivan Tolic, head and part-owner of the CIOS metal recycling company Petar Pripuza and around 15 more un-named people.

by Pippa Gallop, cross-posted from the Bankwatch blog

I say ‘amazing’, because it seemed like it would never happen. Ever since Milan Bandic came to power for a third term as Zagreb Mayor in 2005, NGOs including our member group Zelena akcija/Friends of the Earth Croatia and the Croatian media have been drawing attention to deals which excessively benefitted private companies at the expense of the public, raising questions about possible corruption. Some media reports suggested that the State Prosecutor had as many as 200 requests for investigations against Bandic waiting to be dealt with, but they never seemed to result in any action being taken.

Now, finally, of the deals questioned by Zelena akcija are now reportedly under scrutiny by police in connection with the arrests made, although this has not been officially confirmed.

Right at the beginning of Bandic’s first mandate he signed the contract for Zagreb’s EBRD-financed oversized and overpriced wastewater treatment plant public-private partnership.

Among the numerous problems with this plant is that it churns out waste sludge which is not sufficiently treated to be used for land reclamation or other purposes. This then gave Bandic and others an excuse to push the construction of a huge waste incinerator in Zagreb, which would burn the sludge along with household waste.

This omission in the wastewater plant’s technology at the very least plays into the hands of those pushing for an incinerator, and seeing as the incinerator was promoted by Novum, later part of EVN, which is one of the concessionaires for the wastewater plant, it seems likely it was done on purpose.

Nevertheless, although both the EBRD and EIB were both considering financing Zagreb’s incinerator, both of them wisely declined to proceed with the project, partly as a result of Zelena akcija’s arguments on the need to concentrate on waste prevention and recycling before constructing such a massive, expensive and inflexible facility.

However, in the absence of almost any measures to prevent, recycle and compost waste by the city authorities, the incinerator project rose from the dead again. Most recently Mayor Bandic blatantly abused his position in pushing Zagreb’s new waste management plan through a vote in the City Assembly. The plan was supposed to be voted on 25 September but seeing that he might not get enough votes due to some of his tame representatives being absent from the meeting, Bandic withdrew all the agenda points from the meeting just one day in advance, thereby forcing the head of the Assembly to re-schedule it.

Needless to say, on 9 October when the meeting was finally held, the Plan passed – although not without protests from NGOs and local residents – and both the largest political parties voting against the plan.

Yesterday’s arrests mean that the incinerator project is now standing on thinner ice than ever and any investors and financiers interested in it would be wise to keep their distance. But more broadly it also means that financing institutions like the EBRD and EIB need to take more care about who they do business with. Just a few years ago former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader was widely accepted by the international community as the person leading Croatia into the EU. Now he’s in prison for corruption. It looks like it’s going to be a similar story with Milan Bandic – one minute a partner for investors, the next minute, arrested for corruption. It’s high time for international bodies to stop trusting so much the stories told by politicians and taking more seriously warnings from civil society and the media.

We should be concerned about Ukip’s approach to overseas aid

Posted by Chris Whitehouse on 20th October 2014

We should be concerned about Ukip’s approach to overseas aid, argues Whitehouse Chairman Chris Whitehouse in his latest piece for The Universe magazine.

To read Chris’ article, please click here.

The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies.

Cybersecurity in Europe must remain focused on critical infrastructures

Posted by digital-europe on 20th October 2014

By John Higgins, Director General of DIGITALEUROPE

The 28 member states of the European Union run the risk of undermining a new cybersecurity  law that will play a central role in protecting Europe’s critical infrastructures from cyber attacks.

Earlier this year, the European Parliament narrowed the scope of the proposed Network and Information Security (NIS) directive to focus more specifically on critical infrastructure – including banking, energy and transport networks. The Parliament’s version passed with overwhelming support.

However, as the three institutions – the European Parliament, Commission and Council – begin final stage negotiations on the wording of the directive, a growing number of Member States are pushing for the inclusion of so­‐called “over the top” services like cloud computing, application stores, search engines and social networks within the scope of the law.

Inclusion of these broader “information society services” would not only threaten the innovative capacity of this sector in Europe by creating a burdensome regulatory regime with no corresponding security benefit, it would also heighten the workload for often struggling regulatory agencies, and it would expose citizens’ personal data to unnecessary risk.

Incident data should be reported by the critical infrastructures themselves, as only they have a 360­‐degree view of the incident. They in turn pass on their reporting obligations to their technology vendors through contractual obligations.  This is what the industry advocates and is a proportionate way of protecting critical infrastructures.

Widening the scope of the directive to cover web­‐based services would mean that technology vendors would be obliged to pass customer data, including personal information, to regulatory agencies without any guarantees of what would happen with this data, or how it would be shared between national authorities in other EU Member States.

Many EU member states have limited capability to handle incident reporting within their government departments and agencies. It’s going to be challenging and costly for them to acquire enough capability to develop and maintain robust reporting systems just to cover critical infrastructures, let alone internet enablers and over the top services providers.

Calls for a broader scope of the NIS directive therefore risk undermining the law’s ability to protect what really needs to be protected. There are not enough IT-­security experts in the world today to protect everything that is connected to the Internet equally. While defenses have improved, attackers have also become much more sophisticated. In this constant race where cyber defence tries to keep up with cyber offense, prioritization is key.

Those who call for this law to “protect everything” will end up less secure than the starting point today. And Europe will have missed a unique opportunity to prepare itself for cyber attacks against truly critical infrastructures which could lead to catastrophic impacts on public safety, national security and the broader economy.

Circus6: OOPS! The EU slept through Einstein’s ‘Wake-up Call to Europeans’!

Posted by David on 20th October 2014

All this year EU’s Commission’s headquarters Berlaymont building has been sporting a hypocritical reminder to all Europeans to remember the lessons of World War One. This year commemorates its centenary. The huge banner with WW1 soldiers and the poppies over their graves covers all 13 stories on the side wall of the Berlaymont facing the Robert Schuman Roundabout.

Today’s peace-enhancing Europe rose out of the cauldron of war. Every generation since before Roman times knew war. Then lasting peace came to Europe based on the direct application of Judeo-Christian principles.  Why is it now under attack by jihadis?

With all the millions of euros spent on the WW1 commemorations, why does the European Commission, the ‘Guardian of the letter and spirit of the Treaties,’ not want to inform citizens about the only proven peace process that ended millennia of perpetual wars?

The Commission ignored their own banner message. They ignored the message of Einstein and others for which the Commission had been given full documentation. They ignored the commemoration that some small political parties in the European Parliament had given recognizing the Einstein-Nicolai Manifesto, a balm in Europe’s troubled and bloody history.

The main characteristics of the European Community were first announced during and even before WW1. A hundred years ago this month, it took courage for Albert Einstein, renowned physicist of Relativity and the Quantum, and his colleagues to publish their historic Manifesto. They then  delineated the main features of what became the EU’s founding entity: the European Community, initially only in the coal and steel sector. Coal was then the main energy source as OIL is today.  Steel was vital for the armaments industries.

In mid-October 1914, Albert Einstein and his colleagues launched a powerful and sustained attack on self-serving global cartels. In his view and that of the co-signatories of the ‘Wake Up Call to Europeans,’ (Aufruf an die Europäer) global cartels were a major factor in the Arms Race before the world war. Patriots, citizens and consumers were exploited by both national and international cartels. Some examples:

* A paper company, Harvey Steel, was formed where Germany’s Krupp, France’s Schneider, Britain’s Armstrong, Vickers and USA’s Bethlehem Steel and Carnegie Steel exchanged patents on steel armour and armour-piercing munitions to bolster trade and profits. Exploiting the gullibility of nationalistic politicians, they set one country against another. Krupp called it Schutz- and Trutzwaffen schaukeln, his defensive and offensive seesaw system to fire the Arms Race.

*German industrialists like Krupp supplied arms to Germany’s future enemies, gained a French Legion d’Honneur and during the war exported basic metals to France via neutral countries.

* British firms Vickers, Brown and Armstrong sold arms and mines to the Turks that slaughtered British and Anzac troops at Gallipoli.

* ‘Industrial corporations formed and merged into vast international combines whose prosperity depended on exploiting the nationalist sentiments in different countries.’    The words are those of Henri de la Fontaine (Nobel Peace Prize, 1913). He went on to say: ‘the industries of iron, steel, copper and nickel, coal, petroleum and oils, chemical products (gas, explosives, gunpowder) and other materials as well as the manufacture of arms themselves form vast networks that encompass the entire planet.’ (The Bloody International of Armaments by Otto Lehmann-Russbüldt).

Einstein and the future founder of the European Union, Robert Schuman, were among a small number of activists who not only saw the global dangers but proposed solutions to stop wars. The race was on to create an iron and steel cartel that would dominate the European Continent. Victory of either side was likely to create conditions for another world war. So it was. But not a third.

By mid-October 1914 the German invasion of Belgium had made world war inevitable. What possible effect could Einstein’s voice have denouncing German and international cartels? Even then they manipulated much of the world economy.

A few weeks earlier, 93 eminent university professors launched their ‘Appeal to the Civilized World’ maintaining that Germany was perfectly right in going to war to safeguard its culture. It denied any atrocities occurred in Belgium. Soon 4000 members of the German intelligentsia had signed this Appeal. That represented the quasi-totality of German professors in support for war.

The ‘Wake-up Call to Europeans’ was quite different. The petition conceived by Einstein and Georg-Friedrich Nicolai (né Lewinstein, Berlin professor of physiology who had trained with Pavlov) was only signed by two others: Astronomy professor Wilhelm Foerster who headed Germany’s Standards Bureau, and Otto Buek, a philosopher of science. However the ‘Wake-up Call to Europeans’ was more far-sighted. Its aim was to ensure Europe would preserve its supranational values in a Community after the war. They already saw the main danger:  whoever won, the victor powers might sow the seeds for another world war for coming generations.

Undeterred, the group started a larger organization based on what they called ‘supranational solidarity.’ It was to tackle the great cause of the world war. They called it the Union for New Patriotism (Bund Neues Vaterland, BNV). It drew support from intellectuals around Europe. It did not blame war on the shooting of an Austrian grand-duke in Serbia. Nor was their focus on an ‘accidental’ war brought about by military treaties.

In June 1915 the BNV published a petition and sent it to the Reich Chancellor and all members of the German parliament, the Reichstag. It refuted Germany’s secret War Aims, by then known through the leaked Confidential Memo made by six national economic and industrial cartels. On 9 September 1914 Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg set these aims as:  the permanent dismantlement of fortresses in France and the cession of ‘the Briey basin whose iron ore was necessary for our heavy industry’. Luxembourg and Belgium were to become vassal States.

The cartels also demanded the annexation of ‘the iron ore basin of Briey’ a small French town of 2500 population just across the frontier of German-occupied Lorraine. Why Briey?

The Bund Neues Vaterland ‘opposed most energetically the demands of the petition and asked the Chancellor to take necessary measures against these manoeuvres so as to leave no doubt and to say clearly that the imperial Government does not approve the war aims that they have formulated. The annexation plans are motivated by the need to replenish supplies during a future war. An essential element to guarantee peace in future must be found in the development of international law. ‘

New forms of law, ‘supranational’ law, also preoccupied the son of a French Lorraine soldier who in 1870 defended French Lorraine against ‘Prussians’ at the siege of Thionville. Robert Schuman was a student at Berlin Humboldt University in 1905-6. Half a century later in 1950 Schuman shocked the world when he announced the creation of a new form of grouping of States: the European Community of Coal and Steel. It was based on what he defined as ‘supranational law’. One key characteristic was that it provided the world’s first international system to control cartels.

Schuman was born in Luxembourg where his father, Jean-Pierre, lived in self-imposed exile. He did not want to live under German occupation in Lorraine. Awarded most of the prizes in his final class at Luxembourg high school in 1903, Robert Schuman then made a surprising decision. He had the choice of universities across France, Switzerland and Belgium. Instead he crossed into occupied Loraine. At the Metz High School he crammed for the German university entrance certificate, the Abitur. He had to learn five years of some classes in just eight months. Why? His answer can be found in an later interview on Radio Luxembourg:

It is not by chance that the idea of a Community of steel, iron and coal came to a Luxembourg boy whose parents have experienced what it is to have war.’ Thionville was called France’s Steel City. Luxembourg’s economy also depended on its own vibrant steel industry, trading inside the German customs union. The Schuman family house lay on the frontier, midway between Thionville and Luxembourg city, and only a few kilometres from the newly discovered rich, iron ore basin of Briey.

In 1910 Robert Schuman received his doctorate of Law with high honours from German universities. The next year found him as deputy head of the German delegation to a conference in Leuven, Belgium, organized by Nobel Peace Laureate and Prime Minister Auguste Beernaert. Its theme?  International Peace through Law based on Christian principles.

Before WW1, Schuman thus liaised between Francophone groups and German societies who were then less open to the concept of international law.

What of the cartel problem before the outbreak of world war? In 1913 three-quarters of German iron ore came from Lorraine conquered in the 1871 Franco-Prussian war.  This rose to 80 percent during the war. ‘If iron ore production in Lorraine is interrupted,’ the cartels’ Memo warned, ‘the war to all practical purposes would be lost.’ France regained Lorraine after the war. Schuman became French deputy for Thionville. In the Second World War, Lorraine was again absorbed into Germany.

Then Schuman, twice Prime Minister of France, and long-time Foreign Minister was able to bring in a profound political strategy of reconciliation. He created a supranational Community of Coal and Steel among democracies. The ‘Wake-up Call to Europeans’ of a century ago provided a core document for today’s European Union.

Europeans are now living in the longest continual period of peace in more than two thousand years.  With incessant globalization, world population four times that of 1914, increased demand for strategic materials, and overt and covert cartels in strategic sectors including energy, democracies need to be forever vigilant.

 

Mayors network listed – will Mayors take the lead on a climate deal?

Posted by Kaj Embrén on 19th October 2014

National governments have proven that they do not have what is required to meet the global challenges of climate change and the unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. The shortcomings of the COP meeting since Copenhagen acts as testament to this. With the burden of recession and austerity, short-sighted national governments have thus far shown themselves unable to handle sustainable development issues.

Within the arena of sustainable development, the boundaries of responsibility are undergoing a monumental shift. This allows new actors to take pole position in the creation of new opportunities. Old infrastructures are being replaced by new ones that are better designed to cope with the challenges facing cities and regions.

We should stop directing our attentions and frustrations towards impotent governments. Instead we must focus on more localized models that simmer from below but come to influence and inspire national actors to greater action.

Better levels of engagement and the development of local and international networks have prompted a wider range of actors to become involved in sustainability, from both within and outside the market.

Over the past five years we have seen several strong international networks emerge from municipalities and regions. To get a wider understanding of this phenomenon I undertook some research that shows just how many locally-focussed organizations use their involvement in these networks to bring about sustainable solutions that can have a real impact.

Sweden’ s biggest Political Week event in 2015 – A Challenge for National Governments in front of UN Climate Meeting Paris

Next summer – between the 28 to the 30th of June – the Mayor of the Swedish Island Gotland will invite Mayors from all over the world to the event to debate and prepare to challenge national governments in front of the Paris UN Climate meeting in December 2015. The event is organised by Region Gotland, Stockholm Environment Institute, WWF, The Think Tank – Global Utmaning, The Nordics association, Kairos Future, Club of Rome and Respect Climate.

Send me an e-mail if you are interested to find out more –  kaj at embren.com.

Mayors 33 networks that can act are:

1. United Cities and Local Governments - http://www.cities-localgovernments.org/

2. United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA) - http://www.afriquelocale.org/en/about-us/uclg-africa

3. Federación Latinoamericana de Ciudades, Municipios y Asociaciones (FLACMA) / Latin American Federation of Cities, Municipalities and Associations of Local Governments - http://www.portalambientallatinoamericano.com/

4. UCGL Euro-Asian Regional Section - http://www.euroasia-uclg.ru/index.php?lang=en

5. UCGL- Asia-Pacific - http://www.uclg-aspac.org/

6. Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) - http://www.ccre.org/en/

7. UCLG-Middle East and West Asia (MEWA)  - http://www.uclg-mewa.org/

8. METROPOLIS Network (World Association of Major Metropolises) - http://www.metropolis.org/

9. Union of the Baltic Cities  - http://www.ubcwheel.eu/

10. Local Governments for Sustainability – ICLEI  - http://www.iclei.org and ICLEI USA / National League of Cities / U.S. Green Building Council’s Resilient Communities for America Campaign:http://www.resilientamerica.org

11. C40 (Large Cities Climate Leadership Group) - http://live.c40cities.org/

12. Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative - http://www.clintonfoundation.org/main/our-work/by-initiative/clinton-climate-initiative/programs/c40-cci-cities.html

13. World Mayor Council on Climate Change - http://citiesclimateregistry.org/

14. Sustainable Cities Network  - http://www.sustainablecities.net/

15. United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) - http://www.unhabitat.org/content.asp?typeid=19&catid=540&cid=5025

16. United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) - http://www.unisdr.org/campaign/resilientcities/

17. World Bank - http://blogs.worldbank.org/sustainablecities/about-us

18. Cities Alliance - http://www.citiesalliance.org/

19. World e-Governments Organisation of Cities and Local Governments (WeGO) - http://www.we-gov.org/history

20. Mercociudades - http://www.mercociudades.org/

21. Unión Iberoamericana de Municipalistas (Iberoamerican Union of Municipality Authorities – UIM) - http://www.uimunicipalistas.org/#/sobrelauim.txt

22. Federación de Municipios del Istmo Centroamericano (FEMICA) – Federation of Central American Municipalities - http://www.femica.org/

23. Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA) - http://www.cdia.asia/

24. CAI-Asia – The Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities  and CITYNET (The Regional Network of Local Authorities for the Management of Human Settlements) - http://www.cleanairnet.org/caiasia

25. Committee of the Regions (CoR) and Covenant of Mayors http://cor.europa.eu/en/activities/Pages/priorities.aspx

http://www.covenantofmayors.eu

http://www.eumayors.eu/index_en.html

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/europeangreencapital/index_en.htm

http://cor.europa.eu/en/

26. MEDCITIES - http://www.medcities.org/

27. Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling and Sustainable Resource management (ACR+) - http://www.acrplus.org/

28.Brazil – Frente Nacional de Prefeitos (National Front of Mayors – FNP) - http://www.fnp.org.br/home.jsf

29.India – City Managers Association of India (CMA) http://www.umcasia.org/content.php?id=67

30. China – China Association of Mayors (CAM) - http://www.citieschina.org/en/

31. South Korea – Governors Association of Korea - http://www.gaok.or.kr/eng/e01_intro/intro010.jsp

32. Canada – Federation of Canadian Municipalities - http://www.fcm.ca/

33. Sweden – Klimat Kommunerna – http://www.klimatkommunerna.se/

Ask the question – mobilise network, organisations and give your voice below or at LinkedIn  Rio+

 

 

Le Danemark va-t-il renoncer à ses opt-outs et rejoindre la classe des bons élèves de l’UE ?

Posted by EU-Logos on 19th October 2014

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Première ministre du Danemark (issue du parti social-démocrate danois), a annoncé mardi 7 octobre qu’un référendum serait organisé sur une plus grande intégration du pays à l’Union européenne. Il s’agirait en fait d’un référendum sur l’un des opt-outs du pays en matière de justice et affaires intérieures. « Le concept d’opting-out correspond à une dérogation, accordée à un pays ne souhaitant pas se rallier aux autres États membres dans un domaine particulier de la coopération communautaire, afin d’empêcher un blocage général » (extrait du site Europa).

Des dérogations en vigueur depuis le traité de Maastricht

Rappelons l’origine de ces opt-outs danois. Le pays intègre les Communautés européennes en 1973 mais c’est au moment du traité de Maastricht que ces opt-outs apparaissent. En effet, ce dernier est soumis au référendum le 2 juin 1992 au Danemark et il est rejeté à 50,7% des voix. Mais, pour entrer en vigueur, un traité doit être ratifié par tous les Etats membres. Il a donc fallu trouver une solution, et ce fut le cas au Conseil européen d’Edimbourg en 1992. Sur la base d’un compromis entre le gouvernement danois et les autres chefs d’Etat ou de gouvernement, quatre politiques de l’Union ont fait l’objet d’un opt-out du Danemark : la politique de défense, la troisième phase de l’Union économique et monétaire (qui devait conduire à l’adoption de l’Euro), la citoyenneté de l’Union et la justice et les affaires intérieures. Une nouvelle version du traité de Maastricht prévoyant ces opt-outs pour le Danemark a fait l’objet d’un référendum le 18 mai 1993 et, cette fois, les citoyens danois ont voté « oui » à 56,8%.

Où en sont ces différents opt-outs aujourd’hui ? Celui sur la citoyenneté prévoyait que la citoyenneté européenne (instituée par le traité de Maastricht) ne remplaçait pas la citoyenneté nationale. Le traité d’Amsterdam reprend exactement la même règle pour tous les pays de l’Union : « Il est institué une citoyenneté de l’Union. Est citoyen de l’Union toute personne ayant la nationalité d’un État membre. La citoyenneté de l’Union complète la citoyenneté nationale et ne la remplace pas ». Par conséquent, l’opt-out danois sur la citoyenneté européenne n’a plus d’intérêt. En matière de citoyenneté européenne peu de progrès ont été réalisés en matière de citoyenneté européenne depuis le Traité de Maastricht, notons cependant que le traité de Lisbonne prévoit la possibilité d’Inititives citoyennes européennes (ICE).

L’opt-out relatif à la troisième phase de l’UEM pose en fait la question de l’entrée ou non du Danemark dans la zone euro. A l’heure actuelle le Danemark n’est pas membre de la zone euro puisque cet opt-out est toujours en vigueur. Signalons tout de même qu’Helle Thorning-Schmidt s’était prononcé pour que son pays intègre la zone euro. Il n’y a cependant pas encore de référendum prévu sur ce sujet, qui avait déjà été soumis une première fois à la consultation populaire, en 2000, pour une victoire du « non » (à 53%).

En matière de défense: le Danemark ne participe pas à l’élaboration et à la mise en oeuvre d’actions de l’Union qui ont des implications en matière de défense. Il y a un an, le leader de l’opposition danoise, Lars Lokke Rasmussen proposait l’organisation d’un référendum sur l’abandon des clauses d’exemption dans le domaine de la défense et de la justice en même temps que les élections européennes de mai 2014. Cela n’a pas été le cas et il n’y a pas encore de projet de référendum sur l’abandon des clauses d’exemption en matière de défense. Avant que n’éclate la crise de 2008, Helle Thorning-Schmid avait fait plusieurs déclarations engageantes, que la crise a reléguées aux oubliettes. Le moment est-il venu de les renouveler ?

L’intérêt du référendum : maintenir le Danemark au sein d’Europol

En ce qui concerne la justice et les affaires intérieures, domaine dans lequel Mme Thorning-Schmidt a annoncé le référendum, le Danemark est exempt de certains domaines. Depuis la signature du traité de Lisbonne, le Danemark (ainsi que le Royaume-Uni et l’Irlande qui sont les deux autres pays bénéficiant d’opt-outs en matière de justice et affaires intérieures) a la possibilité de passer d’une option de retrait complète à des opt-in au cas par cas (c’est-à-dire de participer uniquement à certaines politiques de l’ensemble justice et affaires intérieures par exemple) dès qu’ils le souhaitent.

Et c’est de cela qu’il s’agit. Alors que la tendance est au renforcement de la coopération policière au sein de l’UE, le Danemark ne veut pas se retrouver isolé dans la lutte contre la criminalité, voire la lutte contre le terrorisme dont l’importance saute aux yeux de tout le monde, avec évidence . Or, Mme Thorning-Schmidt craint que le pays ne soit obligé de se retirer d’Europol (dont il est membre depuis seize ans) s’il ne revient pas sur la clause d’exemption concernant la justice et les affaires intérieures dont il bénéficie. Cela serait, à ses yeux, négatif pour le Danemark en terme de sécurité. « [Europol] nous a permis d’arrêter des trafiquants de drogue et d’êtres humains, ainsi que de découvrir des réseaux d’abus d’enfants. Il semble que nous allons devoir quitter Europol à cause de cette clause d’exemption justement. Et cela dès le printemps prochain, peut-être. Ça poserait un sérieux problème pour la sécurité des Danois ». D’où sa volonté d’un référendum avec les modalités suivantes : « Le gouvernement est prêt à organiser un référendum après les prochaines élections. Nous pourrons alors choisir les volets de la JAI auxquels nous voulons adhérer et ceux qui ne nous conviennent pas. Je voudrais que le Danemark continue de faire partie de la coopération policière, sans pour autant adopter les mesures concernant les migrants », a-t-elle expliqué. En août dernier, par l’intermédiaire de son porte-parole, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, le principal parti de l’opposition (Venstre) avait apporté son soutien à la tenue d’un tel référendum.

Une avancée hésitante vers plus d’intégration

D’une manière générale, la chef du gouvernement danois (qui a été député européenne de 1999 à 2004) est favorable à une plus grande intégration de son pays au sein de l’Union mais c’est un sujet qui fait l’objet d’une certaine confusion dans son action. En effet, alors qu’elle avait d’abord annoncé la tenue de ce référendum avant la fin de son mandat actuel (qui est son premier mandat, commencé le 2 octobre 2011), puis dans son mandat mais après la présidence danoise du Conseil de 2012, Mme Thorning-Shmidt, s’est prononcée pour l’organisation dudit référendum si la coalition en place remporte les prochaines élections législatives, qui interviendront entre le printemps et la fin septembre 2015 (une législature dure au maximum quatre ans selon la constitution danoise). Autrement dit le référendum aura donc finalement lieu durant son deuxième mandat et à la condition que son parti remporte les élections (pour lesquelles les sondages placent le gouvernement actuel en mauvaise posture).

Elle s’était aussi engagée à tenir un référendum sur un autre opt-out danois au cours de son mandat, en matière de coopération en matière de défense cette fois, et ce ne sera vraisemblablement pas le cas.

Traditionnellement, le Danemark était assez réticent à pousser l’intégration européenne, mais, alors que ce gouvernement souhaite rapprocher le pays de l’Union, il y a assez peu d’avancées sur ce sujet du fait de l’euroscepticisme croissant au sein de l’opinion publique (à titre d’illustration, c’est le Parti conservateur danois qui a remporté les élections européennes dans le pays, parti affilié au groupe ECR, et le vote populiste a fait la une des commentateurs) et du caractère incertain des référendums lié à l’Europe qui en découle. On peut tout de même signaler que le 25 mai 2014, en même temps que les élections européennes, les danois se sont prononcés par référendum pour intégrer la juridiction du Tribunal unifié des brevets (33,7% pour, 20% contre, 44,2% d’abstention).

 

Clément François

 

Pour en savoir plus :

- Article EurActiv : La Première ministre danoise remet aux calendes grecques le référendum sur Europol :                                                                       http://www.euractiv.fr/sections/elections/la-premiere-ministre-danoise-remet-aux-calendes-grecques-le-referendum-sur (FR)                 http://www.euractiv.com/sections/elections/danish-pm-postpones-eu-referendum-309001 (EN)

- Article EurActiv : Le Danemark pourrait organiser un référendum sur son statut dans l’UE http://www.euractiv.fr/priorites/le-danemark-pourrait-organiser-u-news-529967 (FR) http://www.euractiv.com/elections/danes-move-closer-eu-opt-outs-re-news-529956 (EN)

- Article EULogos : Le Danemark réintègre l’UE, sa politique de défense et la politique de justice et des affaires intérieures (janvier 2012) :                                                        http://www.eu-logos.org/eu-logos_nea-say.php?idr=4&idnl=2353&nea=117&lang=fra&lst=0 (FR)

- Article EULogos : Danemark: un référendum sur les opt-outs peut en cacher un autre ! le dirigeant de l’opposition danoise, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, fait monter la pression sur la première ministre, Helle Thorning-¬Schmidt (septembre 2013) :                           http://www.eu-logos.org/eu-logos_nea-say.php?idr=4&idnl=2914&nea=136&lang=fra&lst=0 (FR)

- sur la juridiction unifiée des brevets : http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/indprop/patent/index_fr.htm (FR) http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/indprop/patent/index_en.htm (EN)


Classé dans:CITOYENNETE EUROPEENNE, Questions institutionnelles

Personal and Private? Correspondence between DG Enterprise and the Pharmaceutical Industry.

Posted by jim on 19th October 2014

Citing Regulation (EC) 1049/2001, I asked last month for access to the following documents:

All communications in any form, and notes or records in any form of communications between DG Enterprise and any pharmaceutical Industry association concerning the policy, draft policy or decision making process of the European Medicines Agency on the issue of access to clinical trial results, after the closing of a public consultation on that issue on 30th September 2013 and before 21st May 2014’

I got a reply on 17th October with a copy of just 6 (yes, six) documents.

Three of the documents were requests to individual officials in DG Enterprise to fill in survey questionnaires relating to access to clinical trial data – one survey with five questions, and one with seven questions sent to two different officials on the same day. The questions and the answers, if any, were not included.

The fourth and fifth documents were a copy of an invitation to join an EFPIA webinar on access to clinical trial data, and a summary of the discussions at the webinar.

The sixth was an e-mail to DG Enterprise dated 10th March 2014. It contained (part of) a letter from the US and EU pharmaceutical associations to four DGs, the EMA, FDA, and US Trade Representative. The letter contained detailed suggestions for the EMA transparency policy and argued that the same principles be applied when implementing the regulation revising the Clinical Trials Directives. The letter also requested the Commission’s assistance in interpreting transparency Recital 20A of the new regulation in the light of other provisions dealing with commercial confidentiality.

And that’s it. According to the letter from DG Enterprise, disclosure of all other dealings between DG Enterprise and the pharmaceutical industry “would undermine the privacy and the integrity of the individual” and was therefore subject to the exceptions in Regulation 1049/2001. This applies across the board, it seems, even to things that DG Enterprise might have said to the industry. No documents at all from DG Enterprise were released – apart from a list of the six documents that were released.

In refusing access to these documents DG Enterprise made no reference to Article 4.6 of Regulation 1049/2001, which states “If only parts of the requested document are covered by any of the exceptions, the remaining parts of the document shall be released”.

In response to requests in other areas, correspondence between industry and commission has been released. What is so different about the dealings between DG Enterprise and the pharma industry? Does DG Enterprise have its own interpretation of Regulation 1049/2001? Do most dealings between DG Enterprise and the industry over an eight month period contain such private or personal information that they cannot be disclosed? Can DG Enterprise not tell us even one thing they might have said to the industry over that period? Is this good administrative practice?

DG Enterprise did invite me to put forward arguments that disclosure of these documents, which I have not seen, would NOT undermine the privacy and integrity of (unnamed) individuals. Not an easy task.

Regulation 1049/2001 is part of EU law and confers certain rights on citizens and others. Those rights must be respected, and the regulation must be applied faithfully, by all EU institutions.

This case isn’t over yet.END

UK takes another blow over bankers’ bonus cap

Posted by Open Europe blog team on 19th October 2014

EBA HQ in London
The European Banking Authority (EBA) on Wednesday released the results of its investigation into whether banks across Europe have been using ‘allowances’ to skirt the EU’s bankers’ bonus cap. This is obviously a hugely contentious issue in the UK and the fact that UK banks have been taking this approach has been well publicised and oft criticised by EU politicians. But it’s interesting to note that the EBA found 39 banks across six EU states had been using such allowances, so clearly it is an issue which extends beyond the UK’s big banks.

Nevertheless, the opinion does not bode well for the UK with the EBA concluding:
“The EBA found that in most cases institutions had topped up the fixed remuneration of their staff and had introduced discretionary ‘role based' allowances which have an impact on the limit of the ratio between variable and fixed remuneration required by the EU Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV).”

“The report showed that most of the allowances, which were the subject of the EBA investigation, did not fulfil the conditions for being classified as fixed remuneration, namely with respect to their discretionary nature, which allows institutions to adjust or withdraw them unilaterally, without any justification.”
The report is much as expected, with the EBA making the case that the allowances are not permanent pay for a number of reasons: they are revocable with little notice, specific to the staff member not the role, often have forfeit clauses therefore not permanent and are often linked to proxies for the firms performance (such as the economic environment).

The last point in particular clearly chimes with concerns from banks that they will have less control over their costs at times of economic hardship. This is exacerbated by the point (number 37 in the report) below which is frankly just a bit strange:
"Some role-based allowances might only have been introduced to comply with the bonus cap introduced by the CRD IV while retaining some cost flexibility. Cost flexibility is of importance where the performance of the institution or a business unit is no longer considered adequate."
Surely, cost flexibility is always relevant for a business, particularly one in a very competitive environment, and not just when it is failing? We’re not quite sure what the EBA is getting at there.

What happens now?
  • The opinion isn’t binding, although the EBA has said it expects national regulators to make sure that all banks are in compliance by the end of the year, however, it has no legal way to enforce this (yet).
  • The EBA is currently reviewing its guidelines on the issue and will hold a public consultation before the end of the year with the new official rules being published in the first half of 2015 (at this point they will be legally binding).
  • In particular, if banks want to continue using allowances they will have to be “predetermined, transparent to staff and permanent”.
  • Ultimately, this throws a bit more uncertainty in the mix with banks uncertain over exactly how and when to adjust their allowances.
What does this mean for the UK?
  • Clearly, this is a bit of a blow for the UK. That said, the issue has already to an extent moved out of the EBA’s hands. The UK is challenging the original proposal at the European Court of Justice. Even if this proposal fails it could challenge the updated guidelines/rules which are used to implement the cap. Banks themselves could of course choose to launch legal challenges although this looks unlikely at this stage.
  • Banks will ultimately find a way to pay their staff the market rate. This will likely end up being in the form of higher base salaries, something which will make banks less flexible and push up their average costs. This could potentially harm competitiveness and possibly force banks to pass on such costs to consumers.
  • The biggest concern is a broader one of precedent and where laws are really made. The bonus cap was a specific law tagged onto a much larger piece of legislation to which it is largely unrelated. This significantly aided its passage through and watered down scrutiny. Then given the technical nature of the rules a lot of the holes were filled in by the Commission and the EBA in setting the exact parameters for implementation – providing a lot of power to the two institutions. The temptation to take such an approach with complex financial regulation is obvious and circumvents the little accountability and control which member states have.
This debate surely has some way to run yet but this looks to be one battle which so far the UK is losing.

Building a career in non-institutional EU Brussels

Posted by Dan Luca on 19th October 2014

Brussels hosts more than 100.000 persons working in EU affairs. Only 50% of the jobs are to be found in the EU institutions. The other 50.000 EU actors work at industry federations, consultancies, media, corporate organisations, non-profit organizations, think tanks, region and city representations. The objective of these entities is to advocate and communicate their [...]

A Power Shift in China and the EU

Posted by Duncan Freeman on 19th October 2014

Just how fast can China and Europe change? And just how fast can the relationship between them change? The answer, at least sometimes, is very fast.

A recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicting that solar PV could, in one scenario at least, become the largest single source of electricity generation by 2050 made something of stir recently in the media. The report forecast that at solar PV could possibly account for as much as 16% of global electricity generation by 2050. These forecasts will almost certainly be revised as much can happen in the technology and economics of electricity generation in the next 40 years, but they are an indicator of the possibility for change.

Apart from the possibility that solar power will become a major source of energy, something else in the in the forecast is striking. As the following chart from the report shows, by far the largest growth in solar PV power will come from China. According to the report, at its peak China will contribute about 40% of electricity generation from solar PV in the world in 2030.

Chart 1: Forecast regional production of solar PV electricity Source: IEA

This suggests that in the future China will help change the world. However, that future is already arriving. In 2013 China was already the largest single market for solar PV installations in the world, accounting for 30% of net installations (new installations less facilities retired from service).

Chart 2: Share of net solar PV installations in 2013 Source: Earth Policy Institute

This fact reminds us how fast China, and the world is changing. Only a few years ago China accounted for a negligible share of installations. In 2009 China’s share of new solar PV installations was only 2%. The key cause of this change is that since 2011 the Chinese government has vastly increased support to the solar PV generation sector.

Chart 3: Share of net solar PV installations 2003-2012 Source: Earth Policy Institute

In the EU, the opposite has happened. As recently as 2010 the EU was estimated to account for about 80% of global installations, but it has now become a minor market. In 2013 the three leading markets were China, the US and Japan, which together accounted for 61% of installations. In 2009 Germany by itself installed over 50% of the solar PV added in the world, but in 2013 it accounted for only 9%. One of the main reasons for this has been a sharp reduction in support for the sector across Europe, especially in the eurozone, following the onset of the crisis in the EU.

Whatever these figures may say about the future of solar PV electricity generation, If nothing else, they are a reminder that nothing in China is constant, nor even in Europe. And the relationship between them, and their position in the world, can change rapidly.

Germany turning into an Electricity Importer

Posted by Blogactiv Team on 19th October 2014

Germany is in the beginning of its nuclear phase-out to be completed by 2022.

To that end, it has to replace nuclear power accounting for 18% of its electricity supply, compared to more than half from coal, by higher energy efficiency and renewable energy.

It will also have to close some 30 conventional coal- and gas-fired power plants with a total capacity of 7 GW, which can no longer compete against wind and solar electricity.

To cope with these closures north-south grids  will be necessary to transport large volumes of wind power, but their construction suffers delays because of technical hiccups and public opposition. German utilities have therefore begun buying electricity from Austrian, Italian and French sources for the winters 2014-2016.

This is to be applauded. European power producers have an intrinsic interest to trade electricity according to daily and seasonal availabilities and costs.

The wider the geographic scope for trading wind and solar electricity the easier will it be to do without “stand-by” power plants: somewhere in Europe hydro, biomass, sunshine or wind should normally  be available. Gas-fired stand-by capacities should be an exception, as they are expensive to operate because of low capacity utilisation.

In order to obtain energy security and sustainable supply Europe will need pan European grids and optimal energy efficiency. That will take time and huge investments. The EU has laid out a strategy until 2050 to that end. It should start implementation 2014-20 with support financing from EU structural funds.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 10/10/2014

ACI grows Airport Carbon Accreditation to North America

Posted by ATAG on 19th October 2014

The Airports Council International-North America recently launched Airport Carbon Accreditation at North American airports, bringing the program across the Atlantic five years after it was launched in Europe. Available in the Asia-Pacific region since 2011 and Africa since 2012, Airport Carbon Accreditation has recognized 107 airports in these regions — including 86 across 24 European countries. Only in the past year, the programme yielded a net reduction of 353,842 tons of CO2 in Europe under the collective efforts of European airports. Additionally, it was selected as of the top three low carbon initiatives for Europe and was highly commended at the OECD International Transport Forum’s Transport Achievement Awards. Currently, it is nominated for the ‘Best Aviation Programme for Carbon Reduction’ Prize at this year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards.

The programme assesses and certifies airports’ plans to manage and reduce their carbon impacts. Airports are certified on four different levels of accreditation: mapping, reduction, optimisation and neutrality. The first U.S. airport to be certified was Seattle-Tacoma International in Washington state. The success of the programme reflects the fact that carbon management is high on the transport industry agenda world-wide, but also that it is recognized as a gold standard that many airports wish to attain.

Watch the video below to learn more:
 http://youtu.be/yJWDJx-aaFE

The United Kingdom: An Excellent Country for Erasmus Internship

Posted by mladiinfo on 19th October 2014

Article by: Hacı Mehmet Boyraz (Turkey)
Edited by: Stefan Alijevikj, Tatiana Mrugová

In Turkey, there is a question “Who knows better: the one travelling more or the one reading more?”. After his Erasmus Internship in the UK, the young university student Hacı Mehmet Boyraz from Turkey says, that the one who travels more knows better, because as in his situation, he touched the things he saw in the pages directly, and now he is writing his own observations and experiences. This is Hacı’s 4-months Erasmus Internship story where he explains how to enjoy in the UK as well as provides some relevant information about his internship experience:

I am studying International Relations with Political Science and Public Administration as a double-major student at Gediz University in İzmir. In my first year at the university, I decided to make a research in the UK, but as you know, conducting a research in the UK is expensive. In the time when I was thinking about this, thankfully, the Erasmus Office of the university declared, that the exam for those students who were interested in having Erasmus or Erasmus Internship abroad would take place, so I applied to take this exam and passed it. However, the main issue was not based on passing the exam; the problem was in regards to where I would get my Internship. Luckily, I found a professor, the Leader of the Politics and Applied Global Ethics Group of Leeds Beckett University, who accepted me as a research assistant in the Group.

Because it was my first time in the UK, I had some problems with accommodation. Before coming to the UK, as much as I remember, most of the dormitories were closed, so the best and cheapest choice for accommodation in the UK is always to search “Rooms for rent” online. In this way I found a big and cheap room. I was sharing the home with 5 Polish people who were all really nice and helpful

I have finished my Erasmus Internship a few weeks ago. During the Internship, I worked with many important social scientists at the Leeds Beckett University. This opportunity changed my mind towards academia. With their support, I have written approximately 20 works including articles, corner posts and interviews with well-known people living in the UK and Turkey. Moreover, beyond my job at Leeds Beckett University, I visited Oxford University – African Studies Centre, and University of London – School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). I was really excited about visiting these institutions because both of them host the most important experts on African studies, which was one of my research areas, as well as experts on the EU, Conflict Resolution, and Turkish Foreign Policy.

Irony with Goji Berries

Posted by epopress on 17th October 2014

By Jason Anderson, Head of European Climate and Energy Policy at WWF European Policy Office

Earlier this year I got a blood clot while flying home from a climate meeting in Peru, demonstrating God’s firm approach to high carbon footprint activists. A month later I tore an Achilles tendon while running on vacation abroad, leading me to believe that She’s pretty serious about a zero-tolerance policy.

The upshot is that I was practically living in my doctor’s office for a while so he gave me the bulk discount on blood tests, including a cholesterol check. This returned a surprisingly high level for someone who considers wheat germ a genuine food product and not construction material, but upon closer inspection there was room for improvement. I went hardcore, cutting out the bad stuff entirely and pulling every trick out of the bag: olive oil, walnuts, sardines, dark chocolate, avocados, psyllium husks, goji berries, chia seeds, tofu, linseeds, soy milk, agave syrup. My homemade granola had more trends jostling for attention than a storefront in Kreuzberg.

Within six weeks my cholesterol fell by 25% and my triglycerides fell by 50%, which I think means I can’t enter warp drive anymore but I’m no engineer.  And rather than provoking painful croissant withdrawal symptoms, the whole episode has given me an excuse to let my inner control freak have something more constructive to do than a crusade against split infinitives in WWF position papers. All in all, pretty successful.

But what, you may ask, is this little personal episode doing in a climate and energy blog?

It just so happens that changing diets is a pretty big deal when it comes to combatting climate change. WWF’s Energy Report calculated that meat consumption would have to be cut by half in rich countries if we want to want to achieve the multiple land-use goals of food, fuel, fibre and ecosystem health in a deeply decarbonised world. And our Livewell project has issued a series of recommendations about European diets that would have the dual benefit of better health and reduced carbon emissions in the food supply chain.

So it was with some curiosity that I noticed a billboard advertisement last week for the new Coke ‘life’, which comes in a green can. Why green? It contains stevia, a sweetener derived from a plant that for many years has had a flavour that is to sugar what turpentine is to Chateau La Tour. Coke is trying to do two things here – compete for the burgeoning grown-up ‘natural’ soda market, and react to obesity concerns linked to high-calorie junk food. But maybe their new product can earn some other green cred. Stevia manufacturer Pure Circle has done an interesting footprint analysis of their product, comparing it to a range of traditional sugars. They claim stevia’s CO2 emissions are 82% lower than beet sugar and 64% lower than cane sugar, when used in a soda.

Moreover, because stevia is so sweet, not much is needed. The lower volume means less land under cultivation – about 5 times less compared to sugar cane according to the industry. This offers at least the prospect of reducing land conflicts. And unless there’s some brand of chemistry I’m not aware of, stevia isn’t likely to be made into ethanol, but the sugar we’re no longer drinking could be.

So, next time I pass a green coke can in the market will I add it to my list of diet foods?  I don’t think so….that honour belongs to tap water. Which I understand is all the rage these days in Vesterbro.

 

Europäische Familienplanungen?

Posted by Günter K.V. Vetter on 17th October 2014

Sieht so die schöne neue Welt aus? Wird das Baby 2.0 so in den Lebenslauf programmiert, dass es die Karriere nicht stört, am besten also kurz vor der Pensionierung? Der Vorstoß der IT-Giganten Apple und Facebook, Mitarbeiterinnen das Einfrieren von Eizellen zu bezahlen, sorgt zu Recht für Wirbel. Das Grundproblem, dass Kinder immer noch als Störfaktor einer Karriere gelten, wird damit nicht gelöst, sondern bestenfalls verschoben. Mutterschaft entsteht nicht durch Anklicken von “gefällt mir”, Schwangerschaft lässt sich nicht als App programmieren. Das Verschieben der Familienplanung wegen des Jobs ist immer mit dem Risiko verbunden, dass es dann zu spät sein kann. Was folgt, ist nicht selten tiefe Reue, den Kinderwunsch dem beruflichen Erfolg geopfert zu haben.

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