Added to Case Law, ECJ
In this preliminary ruling, the ECJ clarified two aspects of the Habitats directive 92/43/EEC. The case concerned parts of the river Ems in Northern Germany, which were to become Sites of Community Importance (SCIs). The city Papenburg depends on the Ems remaining navigable for large ships and fears that, if parts were included in the list of SCIs, the dredging operations required for that purpose would in future, and in every case, have to undergo the assessment provided for in Article 6(3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive. Papenburg brought a case to a German administrative court, which posed question on the interpretation of directive 92/43/EEC to the ECJ. The ECJ ruled that the directive must be interpreted as not allowing a Member State to refuse to agree to the inclusion of sites on grounds other than environmental protection, e.g. economic reasons. Furthermore, from Article 6(3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive it follows that ongoing maintenance works in respect of the navigable channels of estuaries which were already authorized under national law before the expiry of the time-limit for transposing the Habitats Directive, must, to the extent that they constitute a project and are likely to have a significant effect on the site concerned, undergo an assessment of their implications for that site pursuant to those provisions where they are continued after inclusion of the site in the list of SCIs pursuant to the third subparagraph of Article 4(2) of that directive.
Sector: Water, Nature
Added to Sectors, General
In a joint letter sent to the UN on January 28th, the EU and its Member States confirmed their commitment to the Copenhagen Accord. The letter affirms the compromise that was reached by the Member States earlier in January in Brussels, in which they agreed upon the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for 2020 established under the so-called ‘energy-climate package.’ Based on this package, EU legislation will provide for a binding target of 20% cut in greenhouse gases compared to 1990 levels. A conditional target of 30% reduction, subject to considerable efforts from other countries, will also be included to the accord.
The responsibility that Spain has assumed from January 2010 as Presidency of the EU faces many challenges, notably the economic crises but also environmental sustainability. The two intertwined issues are addressed in the new growth and employment Strategy “Europe 2020”, forming a big part of the overall Programme of the Spanish presidency. The strategy aims at facilitating the transition of the current EU economy to a more sustainable economy, i.e. a low-emission economic model generating new sources of economic growth. It includes initiatives regarding biodiversity, forest preservation, the sustainable use of water, air quality improvement, and waste management. The Spanish Presidency also worked with the EU in the preparation of the Special Session of the UNEP’s Administrative Board (Bali, February 2010) addressing international environmental governance. The Union will also reaffirm its commitment to the fight against climate following the Copenhagen Summit. Furthermore, special attention will be given to the European energy policy and the 2010-2014 Energy Plan, which will be adopted by the Spring European Council.
Following the decision of December 29th 2009 by the French constitutional court on the Finance Act 2010, the French industrial installations that are covered by the EU emission trading scheme (ETS) will have to pay a tax on CO2 emissions until 1 January 2013. Initially, the carbon tax was only intended for the sectors outside the ETS but the court ruled that this was unfair because too many ETS installations were receiving free CO2 allowance based on the exemptions under the ETS. Specific measures will apply to the energy-intensive ETS sectors such as steel and cement as well as to energy-intensive sectors outside the ETS e.g. agriculture and transport, in order to preserve the competitiveness of the French companies.
Added to Sectors, Chemicals
On 18 December 2009, the scope of the Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) to the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) was broadened to seven new substances; hexachlorobutadiene, pentachlorobenzene, polychlorinated naphthalenes, octabromodiphenyl ether, pentabromodiphenyl ether, perfluorooctane sulfonates, and short-chain chlorinated paraffins. The decision was supported by all 51 parties to the LRTAP, including the EU. The first three new POPs will face an immediate phase out in the EU Member States. The remaining 4 POPs are still subject to some derogation until they will be reviewed again in 2013. Furthermore, the current obligations for the use of the best available technique for controlling POPs emissions have been restricted in order to bring them in line with the Stockholm Convention. The parties have also adopted an expedited procedure for the entry into force of the amendments to the Protocol to ensure more speedy ratifications in the future. The revised protocol will enter force when two-thirds, or 20, of its 29 members have ratified the changes.
Added to Sectors, Energy
Earlier this month, the British government announced the expansion of electricity generation from offshore wind farm development, which according to the British Prime minister Gordon Brown represents a project which is “at the heart of the UK economy shift to low carbon which will make a significant and practical contribution to reducing our CO2emissions.” The project aims to deliver a quarter of the UK’s total electricity needs by 2020 and has already amounted to a tenfold increase in Europe’s existing offshore wind capacity, according to the European wind energy association EWEA. The EWEA also says that this project marks the rise of a new European industry as it is Europe’s largest untapped energy source with enough wind to power Europe seven times over. Nine development zones, with a capacity of 32 GW, have been allocated to 12 European companies generating around 45,000 European jobs. Over 100 GW of offshore wind power is planned for which a 20 year grid development plan has been proposed. The European Commission will publish a Blueprint for this grid later this year.
According to the WWF, the government of Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany has breached EU law by granting construction permits in July 2009 for the 900 megawatt coal-fired plant without meeting the requirements under the Carbon Capture and Storage directive (CSS) (2009/31/EC). The WWF claims that the German authorities are in breach of the CSS directive by having failed to ensure for feasible transport facilities, for suitable storage sites and by not retrofitting the power plant with new improved technology. Consequently, the WWF demands that the Commission EU opens an infringement procedure against the German government for the breach of directive 2009/31/EC.
Based on the projection reports submitted by EU Member States on their renewable energy generation up to 2020, the majority of the Member States will, without the help of other countries, meet their national targets as set under the renewable directive. According to the renewable directive, countries have the possibility to reach their domestic target by buying excess generation from other countries. Belgium is one of the few countries to predict that it might need external help. A few other countries, such as Bulgaria, have shown interest in launching joint projects. France and the Netherlands have predicted to meet their targets without any external assistance while Spain, Germany and Estonia have even foreseen surpluses of renewable generation in 2020.
On 12 February 2010 the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the Court of Justice and the Council participated in the annual Italian-based awareness-raising campaign “I’m using less light” (‘M’illumino di meno’ in Italian).The EU institutions turned off all non-essential lighting and electronic equipment in the buildings in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg between 6 and 7.30pm on that day. The energy saving campaign was first launched in 2005 and encourages individuals and organizations to reduce private and public energy use by firstly switching off lights and other non-vital electrical devices between 6 and 7.30 pm, and also by trying out other innovative ideas to improve environmentally and financially. This year, the campaign encouraged the use of lights from renewable sources by lighting the perhaps biggest bulb lit by renewable energy ever. This event, which took place in Rome, marked the highlight of the campaign and was thanks to the energy from fifty cyclists in a collective ride.
Added to Sectors, Waste
According to a report by the European Topic Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (EIONET), the recent increase in the transboundary shipment of waste by EU countries is partially to be blamed on the strict recycling and recovery requirements established by EU Directives on waste. While these strict requirements aim to generate recyclable materials and energy, they also create new types of wastes. This concerns at least one third of the shipped hazardous waste and half of the notified non-hazardous waste. Moreover, the report shows that these waste types are expected to increase as higher emission standards are being set and waste management is becoming more stringent. The report suggests that a clearer picture of the EU waste trade is necessary in order for the issue to be remedied. In order to achieve a clearer picture, the report suggests countries use codes from the European Waste List instead of codes from the Basel Convention when reporting transboundary waste shipments. By doing so, the types of hazardous waste derived from residues from industrial waste disposal operations can be established.
The French company SNF and the German company PPG have launched a legal challenge against the proposal made earlier this month by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to include acrylamide to EU list of very high concern ( SVHC) regulated under REACH. Chemicals included in this list are subject to tough authorization requirements. The companies argue that including that chemical will constitute in a breach of the REACH regulation since the chemical is used as an intermediate and such uses are formally excluded from authorization under the REACH. The ECJ will decide whether or not the chemical will be included in the list.
Added to Upcoming Events
This seminar is aimed at shedding some light on the results of the Copenhagen Climate Change conference of December 2009. To this aim, considerations about the history and development of the negotiations, the legal aspects and effects of the Copenhagen Accord, as well as the future of the UNFCCC process will be provided.
Location: TMC Asser Institute
Date: 11 March 2010, 3:30-5:30 pm
The two days seminar, endorsed by the European Process Safety Centre (EPSC), will deliver lessons on the topic of site safety at fuel storage sites. The event is relevant to anyone in the business and operations of storage, transportation and distribution of flammable materials.
Location: West Cord Fashion Hotel Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Date: March 2-3, 2010
During this 2 day conference, Europe’s leading utilities will gather to discuss their strategies to develop increased low carbon power while highlighting the challenges faced and barriers to be overcome. Furthermore, the topic of the capacity gap and the evolving European energy mix will be covered.
Location: Hilton Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
Date: Mar. 11-12, 2010
This two day conference will bring together terminal owners and operators from the major oil and chemical companies, as well as the independent sector, to discuss a range of critical issues facing companies in the oil storage value chain. The conference will also provide a practical insights into the market moving forward.
Location: Le Méridien Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
Date: March 1-2, 2010
Added to Vacancies
UNFCC is looking for a legal officer who will be responsible for providing legal support and advice on the operations of the international transaction log, the expert review teams, the conduct of the intergovernmental process and the flexibility mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol.
Location: Bonn, Germany
Deadline: 10 March 2010
The job requires contribution to studies relating to all the stages of policy process including the formulation, practical implementation and ex post evaluation of a range of policies and instruments at EU and Member State level. The analyst will also be required to focus on biodiversity and ecosystems services, sustainable indicators, eco-innovation and other environmental economics related subjects.
Deadline: 31 March 2010
FERN is looking for a campaigner who will be responsible for the development and implementation of FERN’s Congo Basin work for the campaign on Avoided Deforestation and Forest Degradation (ADD) as well as for the overall smooth working of the organization,
Deadline: 11 March 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 CFI 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)