Added to Case Law, EJC
The European Court of Justice has ruled that the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has failed to fulfil its obligations under articles 4 and 5 of Council Directive 91/676/EEC of 12 December 1991 concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources. The European Commission initiated the infringement procedure against the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg on the ground that Luxembourg failed to fulfil its obligation under Directive 91/676/EEC due to the non-compliance of national measures with rules relating to land application of fertiliser, to minimum storage capacity for liquid manure, to prohibition on land application on steeply sloping ground and to techniques ensuring a uniform land application of fertiliser. Luxembourg claimed that the Commission’s action is inadmissible on the basis of its disregard to rules concerning the language of the case as stipulated in article 29(3) of the Rules of Procedure of the Court and by reason of misapplication of article 226 EC concerning the principles of res judicata and non bis in idem. The Court ruled that the Commission’s action is admissible and concluded that the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has failed to fulfil its obligations under Directive 91/676/EEC.
Added to Sectors, General
Following an extraordinary session of the Meeting of the Parties (Ex-MoP) to the Aarhus Convention on 30th June 2010, a taskforce on Public Participation has been established. The convention is an international key instrument that provides citizens the right to access to environmental information, public participation and justice in environmental matters. Earlier this year, the European Commission and EU judges were called upon to ensure an adequate implementation of the convention following a report by the NGO Justice and Environment which claimed that the convention is applied differently and limited across the EU. In order to strengthen the implementation of the convention, the taskforce is mandated with several functions e.g. to prepare draft recommendations to signatories based upon their implementation measures, organize workshops, conduct commission research and compile a database of experts and resources.
Based on the 2010 edition of the publication of Taxation trends in the European Union by Eurostat, the EU environmental taxes as a percentage of GDP fell to 2.4% in 2008. This is the lowest level since 1999. The fall in the level of environmental taxes has been steady from 2004 onwards but shows substantial differences between the shares of the Member States. Denmark displays the highest level of green taxes at 5.7 % in 2008 followed by the Netherlands with 3.9 %. The lowest environmental tax revenues are found in Latvia, Lithuania, Spain and Romania which are all below 2 %. According to the publication, the low rates are the result of energy use and energy taxes that have not kept up with inflation.
Added to Sectors, Climate
The revised fuel quality directive 2009/30/EChas received heavy criticism and protest from fourteen MEPs including environment committee chair Jo Leinen. The directive requires fuel suppliers to cut life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from road fuels by 6% from 2010 to 2020. However no specific default value for calculating life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands oil has been provided. The MEPs believe that a specific default GHG value for tar sands oil is essential in order to create an incentive to resort to cleaner oil extraction techniques. The European Commission will put forward a proposal to member states before September. If the plan gets supported, the European Parliament will have three months to approve or reject it.
Green group WWF has called upon the European Commission to investigate the legality of a Royal Decree on coal subsidy adopted by the Spanish government earlier in 2010. The decree provides for state aid grants for national coal burning power plants and aims to reduce stocks stored on coal and to increase Spain’s share of renewables in the electricity generation. The WWF however fears that the Decree will give Spain a precedence over other Member States since it creates double subsidies; the Spanish coal sector already receives subsidies under EU rules on state aid for coal. The complaint by WWF comes shortly before the EU rules on state aid for coal expire in December 2010. At the end of July 2010, the Commission could propose to end subsidies to the Spanish mining activity. The entry into force of the decree has been postponed and is awaiting clarification by the Directorate-General for the Environment in European Commission for competition. The decree has already been criticized by the European Commission for competition as likely to increase CO2 emissions by 20% and cost up to €800 million.
The Finnish parliament has approved authorization for the construction of two new nuclear reactors, respectively with a capacity of 1,500-2,500 and 4,600 megawatts. The two reactors will be build by two seperate Finnish firms. Both firms expect the reactors to be operational by 2020. Greenpeace has heavily critized the approval for the reactors stating that Finland will become the world’s largets nuclear waste producer.
Added to Sectors, Transport
Following an agreement by the European automobile manufacturers association (ACEA), a standard charger for electric vehicles will be introduced in Europe in 2017. The electrically chargeable vehicles will include battery electric vehicles (BEV), extended-range electric vehicles (EREV) and plug in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). The charger will be suitable for cars and light commercial vehicles. Customers will have the chance to use the different plugs until a uniform solution is implemented for all the new vehicles in 2017. ACEA believes that the standardization will lead to progress throughout Europe since it will avoid different countries requiring different charging cables and instead provide the platform for a business friendly market. Technical details on the charger have not been announced yet, however the Commission has started consulting with Member States that are advanced in the setting up of electric vehicle infrastructure such as Denmark, Germany and France.
Added to Upcoming Events
The Ninth International Symposium on Spatial Accuracy Assessment in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences will be hosted by the University of Leicester on behalf of the International Spatial Accuracy Research Association (ISARA). This event is held every two years and is concerned with all aspects of spatial accuracy in natural resources and environmental sciences.
Location: University of Leicester, United Kingdom
Date: 20 July – 23 July 2010
This annual conference organised by the Academy of European Law and IDEW will analyse the following facets of water management law and public services in Europe: The impact of the Lisbon Treaty , political and legal framework for public services in Europe, legal provisions applicable to water service delivery, organisation, practice and experiences from Member States, competition law and public services, public services and water protection, future perspectives for European water management law and case law from the ECJ.
Location: Rue de l’Aqueduc 118, Brussels, Belgium
Date: 23 – 24 September 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
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)