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Added to Case Law, EJC
This reference for a preliminary ruling was brought by the High Court of Justice of England and Wales in the context of a request made by Afton Chemical Limited (Afton), a producer of the metallic additive methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl (MMT). According to Afton, setting limits on MMT in fuels under the revised Fuel Directive 2009/30/EC is unlawful since there were no restrictions on the use of MMT prior to the adoption of the Directive and there was no scientific evidence for the need of such restrictions now. Afton claimed that the Directive was violating the EU principles of precaution, proportionality, equal treatment and legal certainty. The ECJ found amongst other things that the EC legislator took available scientific data into account, and that the limit set for MMT is temporary and capable of amendment according to results of further development results. It was concluded the information disclosed was not capable of affecting the validity of the Fuel Directive and therefore rejected all the claims brought by Afton.
Added to Sectors, General
The European Commission has announced Europe’s biggest ever investment in research and innovation for the period of 2011-2013 of 6.4 billion Euros. The investment, which is a key element within the EU’s Europe 2020 Strategy, is intended to advance scientific boundaries, increase European competitiveness and help solve societal challenges such as climate change, energy and food security, health and the ageing population. A total of €240m will be spent on environmental research of which €70m will be devoted to climate change research, another €70m to cleaner production processes and a €100m will be set aside for research into resource efficiency. Another €210m is foreseen for developing alternative materials for greener industrial production. Over one third of the funding will be allocated to universities and research institutes while industry and small firms will receive a quarter of the total amount. This way, the investment is expected to stimulate the economy and create an estimated 165.000 jobs. Grants will be awarded based on calls for proposals over the next 14 months. The first batch of these calls were published on July 20th 2010.
Added to Sectors, Chemicals
According to the Annual Report on Pesticide published by the European Food Safety Association (EFSA), compliance with EU maximum residue levels (MRLs) of pesticides permitted in food has improved. The report shows that 96.5% of the samples analysed in 2008 comply with MRLs. This is an improvement of 0.7% compared to 2007. Only 0.2% exceeded the legal limit of MRL in baby food on which European legislation is particularly strict allowing no more than 0.01 mg/kg of any single pesticide residue. Concerning organic products, MRLs were exceeded in 0.9%. The majority of the MRL breaches were found in food imported from countries outside of the EU (7.6%) as opposed to products grown within the EU (2.4%). According to EFSA’s Pesticide Risk Assessment, the current percentage of the presence of pesticides in foods does not necessarily imply a food safety concern. Only in a rare case where large portions with the highest residue levels are consumed would a risk occur. The report also includes several recommendations for the improvement of future pesticide monitoring programmes.
Added to Sectors, Climate
The European Commission’s proposals for rules governing the auctioning of carbon allowances under the EU’s emission trading scheme (ETS) from 2013 have been backed by the Climate Change Committee. The proposal will progressively replace free allocation as the current main method for allocating ETS allowances with auctioning. Industries have shows support for the proposal, particularly power companies since they require clarity over auctioning costs in order to buy carbon allowances in advance. Other proposals concerning the EU ETS include a solid common auction platform, a simple auction format, a predictable auction calendar, access for small emitters and mitigating risk of market abuse. The draft regulation will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for a three month scrutiny period.
Added to Sectors, Energy
According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Cement Sustainability Initiative, the global cement industry has continued to reduce the amount of CO2 it emits per tonne of cement. In 2008, emissions were 646 kilograms per tonne which is a decrease of 14.3% compared to 1990. The continued reduction is a result of different methods according to regions. Europe is leading on the use of alternative fuels while China has been replacing old kilns with more efficient ones.
Added to Sectors, Nature and Agriculture
The European Commission has issued a legislative proposal which will provide Member States the freedom to allow, restrict or ban the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) within their territory. Member States will no longer require authorisation by the Commission for such decisions but will only be required to inform other Member States and the Commission one month prior to adopting the respective measures. The overall authorisation system which is based on safety and consumer choice will remain the same in order to ensure the protection of consumers and the functioning of the internal market. This new approach aims to reach the right balance between EU authorization and the possibility for Member States to take their national concerns into account. This proposal on GMO legislation will amend Directive 2001/18/EC and will be adopted following co-decision with the European Parliament and the Council.
The proposal was criticised amongst others by researcher Thijs Etty from the VU University Amsterdam. He warns that the proposals “will mean that the EU will no longer be the world’s largest GMO-free zone” and that such a change “will not take into account the divergent opinions of member states and the opposition of a majority of Europe’s citizens.” Etty argues that the proposals, presented as a “bid to seek a compromise with countries that are reluctant to allow GMO like Austria, Italy, Greece and Luxembourg, […] are in fact a manoeuvre to force member states who are critical of the Commission’s policy to manifest themselves.” In the long term these countries “will have virtually no hope of remaining GMO free. […] In reality, they will be forced to accept a diminishment of their autonomy, and a transfer of power to Brussels.” Over the next few months, Etty warns that “at least four new strains of GM soya and corn will be introduced in European fields.”
According to a report by the Chatham House on illegal logging and related trade, there has been a 30% decline in imports of illegally sourced wood products since the peak of 2004. Illegal logging itself has dropped by between 50 and 75% across Cameroon, Indonesia and the Brazilian Amazon over the last decade. Globally it has dropped by one-fifth since 2002. The report estimates that if the fall in illegal logging continues, up to 14.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide can be saved and a significant contribution to the fight against global warming can be made. The report suspects that the decrease in illegal timber is due to a 2008 law making it illegal to handle illegal timber in the US. A similar regulation is expected to be adopted in the EU later this year. The report also warns these regulations will stimulate the rise of illegal timber imports that are harder to detect such as fake licenses.
Added to Upcoming Events
This two day conference, organised by the Dutch research programmes Climate changes Spatial Planning and Knowledge for Climate, the City of Rotterdam and the Co-operative Programme on Water and Climate, will be dedicated to science, policy issues and international cooperation between Delta institutions. Agenda topics include subsidence, climate change, spatial planning, flood risk management, urban heat island effect, governance and innovative policy instruments for planning and decision making.
Date: 29 September – 01 October 2010
Added to Vacancies
The Union of the Electricity Industry, EURELECTRIC, is seeking a head of unit for its Environment and Sustainable Development Policy. This person will have to organize and lead the work of the unit as well as represent the industry towards the EU, the UN and other relevant organizations.
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Deadline: 15 August 2010
Within CASE, which is an international collaboration of VU University Amsterdam with the universities of Bordeaux, Tromsø and Plymouth, there is a vacancy for a 3-year junior researcher position at VU University Amsterdam. This sub-project focuses on modelling of climate change in the Arctic. The researcher will be expected to analyze a range of climate models, operate within an international team and have excellent social skills.
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Deadline: 15 August 2010
Wybe Th. Douma (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
Jens Hamer (Court of First Instance of the European Community, Luxemburg)*
* All views expressed are entirely personal and can in no way be attributed to the General Court or ECJ
Leonardo Massai (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
Iram Velji (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
Marco van der Harst (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
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