Issue 37

Newsflash

October / November 2014

With the European Parliament having ratified the new European Commission team on the 22nd October, the new European Commission took office formally on 1st November 2014 and with it a new political phase for the European Union. Green 10, an alliance of 10 leading environmental organisations in Europe seeks to work with the EU law-making institutions - the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers - to ensure that the environment is placed at the heart of policymaking.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21 or CMP11 will be held in Paris, France in 2015. The international climate conference will be held at the Le Bourget site from 30th November 2015 until the 11th December 2015.  This will be the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties (CMP 11) to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

During the recent ENEP General Assembly, the side event incorporated a visit to the new European Commission.  Speaking to the Group, the Commission representative explained the general function of the European Commission in relation to defender the general interest of the European Union.  During his presentation he spoke of the importance of the Single Market and highlighted the European Court of Justice’s role in arbitrating over market access issues for a companies facing technical, professional qualifications and cultural blockages to be able to practice in neighbouring states.

William Neale, the former cabinet member for Janez Potočnik met with ENEP members during a General Assembly side event visit to the European Commission recently.  In reviewing the last five years Mr Neale underlined the core pillar of the Potočnik mandate being to “Live well within the limits of the planet”

~~On the 4th November, Green Budget Europe (GBE) was founded in Brussels as an independent organization that will promote an environmentally sound tax policy in Europe. As the European Union searches its way out of its multiple economic, fiscal and environmental crises, a strategy to shift taxes away from labour towards pollution and resource consumption is essential to boost innovation, create jobs and help Europe prosper.

The MEP leading work on proposed new stringent air pollution limits for 2030 says the European Commission needs to do more work on the economic impacts of its plan. The costs and benefits of tougher ammonia and methane limits in particular need to be further evaluation according to Julie Girling the Parliament’s ECR group.

Compliance with the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) remains patchy across the European Union to say the least.  Energy efficiency renovation strategies from Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands do not comply with EU requirements and another six member states, including Greece, Poland and Luxembourg haven’t even published their national renovation strategies six months after the deadline on 4th July 2014.

DG Environment has invited ENEP to participate in the third Green Infrastructure Implementation and Restoration Working Group to be hosted by DG Environment on 19th November 2014.  The working group has on its agenda a progress update on Biodiversity Strategy implementation: Green Infrastructure and restoration in its policy context, progress on implementation of Green Infrastructure and restoration in Member Statesand the presentation of a good practice example in GI implementation that has been financed in the context of the INTERREG IV(C) project: GreenInfranet -

Whilst all eyes were on the new Commission, one of the Lisbon Treaty’s ratchet clauses came into effect on the 1st November in the Council of Ministers affecting the way votes are weighted between the larger and smaller member states.  Whilst this sounds arcane, it effects are far reaching for the vast majority of EU law that is now adopted now by co-decision, meaning majorities can outvote minorities. The voting weights of different member states is about the most political issue in the makeup of the EU: it is about who rules the roost, the small or the big member states?
 

Member states have until 2nd January 2016 to put in place “fully functioning structures” to prevent the intentional introduction of invasive alien species into the EU when the European Commission introduces its first list of species to be banned.

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