Added to Case Law, ECJ
* Case C-266/09, Stichting Natuur en Milieu, Opinion AG Kokott, 23/09/2010 (not yet available in English).
The preliminary ruling is asked by the Dutch College van Beroep voor het Bedrijfsleven (Administrative High Court for Trade and Industry) in order to ascertain whether information about phytosanitary residuals remaining on salad plants falls within the scope of Directive 2003/4 on public access to environmental information. This Directive was adopted in order to comply with the Aarhus convention. The dispute arose when NGO’s were not provided information on the reasons for setting a Maximum Allowable Residue Limit for a specific substance (propamocarb) because of commercial secrets.
The AG proposes a wide interpretation of Directive 2003/4, including the use of cultivation of salad plants and the related process within the concept of “environmental information” and “emissions”. If the ECJ would follow this opinion of the AG, Member States may not provide for a request in cases like this to be refused on grounds of confidentiality, commercial or industrial information or intellectual property rights, because Article 4 para 2 Directive 2003/4 excludes that option where the request relates to information on emissions into the environment. In this way, information on the use of a phytosanitary product and its residuals would have to be provided to the public.
Sectors: General, Nature and Dangerous substances
*Case C-241/09, Fluxys, Opinion AG Trstenjak, 28/09/2010 (not yet available in English)
The preliminary ruling is asked by the Court of Appeal of Brussels in a case concerning the compatibility of the domestic legislation with EU law. Notably, the relevant acts are Directive 2003/55 establishing common rules for the market of natural gas and the Regulation 1775/2005 laying down the conditions for access to the natural gas transmission network. The dispute concerns the different regimes that Belgian law imposes for the activity of transport and transit, and the question whether this difference affects the principle of non-discriminatory access to the gas market. The AG proposes the ECJ to advice to the Belgian Court that EU law and the principle of non-discriminatory access to the energy network stand in the way of different regimes.
Sectors: General, Energy
Added to Dossiers, General:
* European Environmental Law after Lisbon: an introduction(English version)
* Diritto dell’ambiente dell’Unione Europea: un’introduzione(Italian version)
These updates include the changes that the Lisbon Treaty brought about in the field of European environmental law. The introductions also describe the changes that previous Treaties (notably the Single European Act, Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice) brought about. Also, some information on EU law regarding the free movement of goods and protection of the environment, and on environmental case law is provided in these introductions. More language versions will follow in the near future.
Added to Policy Documents
* FoE Europe waste study
A new Friend of the Earth Europe (FOEE) study states that at least 500.000 EU jobs would be created if Member States recycled 70% of their waste. EU has the goal to recycle 50% of household waste by 2020 and, according to that study, recycling produces more jobs rather than sending waste abroad or to incinerators.
See also Friends of the Earth Europe homepage
ECF report on EU energy action plan
A report issued by the European Climate Foundation (ECF) warns that the European energy action plan is far from reaching its targets. Despite the economic and productive crisis, according to the report one possible solution could be strengthening energy efficiency in end-use sectors, as for instance residential and transport.
See also ECF report
* EP on deep sea oil drilling: no moratorium
The European Parliament’s environment committee is going to adopt a non legislative resolution in order to push modification to the environmental liability directive 2004/35. The proposed amendment is aimed at including within its scope the risks of offshore oil exploitation in the wake of the
Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf or Mexico. Meanwhile, MEPs turned down a call for a freeze on new deep sea oil drilling operations until safety procedures are reviewed by 323 to 285 votes on 7 October 2010. Oddly enough, the Commission might still propose a moratorium.
* Green jobs
The Belgian Presidency has held the first Ministerial conference on “green jobs”. This meeting could be considered as preparation work for the Council of Ministers of Employment in December 2010 which is to adopt concrete measures on the matter. Issues discussed included: the impetus that government should provide to green jobs, training both employers and employees, the role that European funds can play and greening the job environment.
See also Presidency press release
* The Commission is to announce a broader Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) in the early 2011. The plan is part of the EU strategy for 2020 and will help technological innovation and improvement. According to it, Member States and regions have to set up specific budget obligations to foster procurement in areas such as energy efficiency and renewable energy. The plan will also promote a European Innovation Partnership to achieve better results in key sectors such as raw materials and waste recycling.
Added to sector, Climate Change
* IATA discusses aviation CO2 emissions
During the conference of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), delegates asked for a new sectoral agreement to be discussed in the next meeting of the International Civil Aviation Association (ICAO). Topics of this next meeting will be cutting CO2 emissions and the use of alternative fuels. Giovanni Bisignani, IATA director, said that new aircrafts will be 20-25% more fuel efficient than their predecessors and that biofuels are moving closer to certification for commercial use. Moreover, he pushed governments to act together avoiding mere national schemes. The EU has introduced such a ‘national’ scheme by including aviation in its ETS system.
* ENDS interviewed Connie Hedegaard, EU Climate Commissioner.
Ms. Hedegaard gave a positive opinion on ETS mechanism and allowances. Notably, they are pushing to increase carbon price which will lead industries to shift toward innovation. Moreover, the new attention paid to climate has created new jobs and more income. Finally, she states that a new sectoral emission system is under study and that she hopes to reach a good agreement in Cancun.
* IMO meeting without agreement on energy standards for ships
National representatives failed to reach an agreement at the last International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting. The topic was the mandatory efficiency energy standards for new ships. India, China, Brazil and South Africa blocked the proposed measures because they would have been applied indiscriminately while a “common but differentiated responsibilities” is needed. The IMO chief, Mr. Mitropoulos, warned them that this is their last opportunity to take a serious commitment to cut emissions before the Cancun conference.
Added to sector Energy
* Energy consumption buildings
Energy consumption can be lower if the impact of buildings is reduced by improving their conditions. Because the construction of new buildings is slow, attention should be paid to those already existing. The Commission will impose a binding target for Member States if it notices that the necessary cut of 20% will not be met.
See alsoCommission’s draft
* Renewable energy Europe. A special ENDS report on the National Renewable Energy Action Plans outlining goals and measures to boost renewable energy use
Member States are required to submit their National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) by 30 June 2010; at the end of September 2010, only Poland and Romania had not submitted their NREAP. This first analysis shows both common features and differences. Each Member State prefers to focus on the sector where it believes to have more competitive advantages, as for instance wind installations in the UK or solar panels in Spain and Italy; Germany continue being the country leader in environmental efforts. Whether every State has to comply with its own 2020 commitment, and notably only Italy and Luxembourg have declared to use the mechanism of cooperation, basically two kinds of problems arise. Firstly, the economic crisis has cut the possibility of public expenditure, therefore private investors will be needed to finance new installations. Secondly, there is a widespread problem of coordination between national policies and regional powers: a new wind facility should be built up but citizens of the affected area oppose. In short, Member States are making good efforts to comply with the overall obligations but a full assessment will only be possible in the next years.
See alsorenewable energy Europe
Added to sector, General
* Norway – Russia agreement raises concerns
The new agreement between Norway and Russia raised concerns among environmental NGOs. Friends of the Earth, Bellona Foundations and Nature and Youth expressed doubts about opening new areas for oil exploitation, especially in such a weak scenario as Arctic. However, the treaty itself is not fully clear because it merely states that parties have to “consult each other with respect to applicable health, safety and environmental measures that are required by […] national laws and regulations…”.
* Biofuels lawsuit
Environmental groups ClientEarth, T&E, EEB and Birdlife International have started a lawsuit against the European Commission for failure to release documents on the impact of biofuels in Europe. They want to have a copy of a study which shows the consequences of the production of biofuels for land use. Notably, they allege that the Commission is not disclosing the relevant documents (see art.15 TFEU)
* EPO on green patents
A study of the European Patent Office (EPO) shows that since the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 green patents increase at an average rate of 20% per year. EPO president stated that spreading green technologies in developing countries is affected by political instability and intellectual property rights (IPR) rules. Nowadays, the majority of patents come from Japan, Germany, Korea and France but Brazil and China are growing.
* EEB Memorandum for Belgian Presidency
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) has proposed a series of measures which should be taken by the Belgian Presidency of the European Union. The list covers energy and resource efficiency linked to financial perspectives for 2014-2020, drafting the 7th environmental program complying with the precautionary and polluter pays principles, fighting climate change, demonstrating international leadership on the biodiversity agenda, caring about waste management, further opening thedebate on chemical substances, disposing of mercury, air pollution andnanotechnology.
See also EEB memorandum
* New sustainability label under debate
The International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Product (AISE) launched a new label for products meeting the sustainability standard. That label will be given to products that are packaged with recycled materials and have components which do not affect the aquatic environment. However, only companies that have signed the charter will be able to use the specified label. Green groups oppose because an ecolabel already exists and stakeholders have not been sufficiently consulted.
Added to sectors Nature and Agriculture
* EP on new biocides legislation
The European Parliament is considering amending the biocides legislation. The Green party contested this political line and abstained from the vote. The new framework shall require a prior authorization to seek at European level and not anymore at national one. The most controversial point is twofold: the elimination of annual fees for registration and shortening the assessment deadline carried out by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA). However, the European Parliament has strengthened the ban for the most dangerous biocides adding new environmental criteria.
* JRC on soil degradation
The European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC) asserts that soils in a large part of the UK, France and Benelux are facing serious degradation. Reasons should be researched in the massive use of land for agriculture and in the steady pressure of population.
* Opposition against Commission’s GMO proposal
Italy and France’s agriculture ministry’s opposed the Commission’s proposal to give Member States free choice in order to produce genetically modified (GM) crops. According to their point of view, the proposal would endanger the principles of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), market unity and legislative consistency. Spain and Germany opposed as well as arguing for the need of a single legislation for all Member States. Moreover, Belgium is still waiting for a deeper legal analysis necessary to express its consent. The proposal was put forward by the Commission after a request from Hungary, Austria and several other small Member States.
Added to sector Waste
The Belgian EU Presidency has proposed to broaden the scope of application of the Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances (2002/95 EC, so called RoHs) to other dangerous elements, notably electronic and electric equipment (EEE). Moreover, materials already included in RoHs will not be suitable anymore for impact assessment in order to benefit any exemptions.
See also Council of the European Union
The following national pages have been updated: Austria, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain
* Austrian economy Minister has announced a new plan to foster green economy. It includes energy saving measures for buildings, green technology research and new development funds. Related to this new impetus, there is already the proposal to amend the national green energy act.
See alsoAustrian ministry of economy
* Denmark is urging the European Union to increase the emission reduction target to be reached by 2020. UK is in favor of that proposal. Denmark is a big exporter of green technology and wish that EU maintains its leadership in environmental commitment.
See also Danish government press release
Sector, Climate Change
* Germany has started an assessment process in order to ascertain whether a temporary site for the storage of nuclear waste can be turned in to a permanent one. Opposition parties and Green associations express concern not only for the hydrogeological status of the land but also for the involvement of a private company in the analysis operation.
* Red mud spill in Hungary
The spill has been described as the worst Hungarian environmental disaster. Four people died and 113 were injured. The red mud contains several toxic substances, amongst other things lead, cadmium, arsenic and chromium. Even though the situation seems to be more or less under control, there is the risk that rain will spread the mud.
See also Hungarian environmental ministry (in Hungarian)
* Italy has transposed the Air quality directive 2008/50. Regional authorities have the task to monitor emissions and to prepare plans in order to comply with the standards set out by the directive. The Commission is verifying whether other Member States have implemented the directive because it should have been transposed by the 11th June.
See also the italian decree
* Non-implementation cases; Potential heavy fine for Italy on waste management
The Commission may bring Italy before the Court of Justice (ECJ) again on waste management. If Italy does not fully comply with a previous ECJ ruling from 2007, it could be required to pay a heavy fine. The dispute concerns the full implementation of Directive 2006/12 EC on waste management. Since the previous ruling, Italy has prepared action plans for all regions except for Lazio. The Commission is investigating the level of implementation of several Member States in environmental matters. Amongst those there are Ireland for waste disposal; Austria, Germany and Poland for quality air; and Greece for failing to comply with the directive 1/2008 on integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC).
* Portuguese dam project
Portuguese NGOs have urged the European Commission to verify whether a project of a dam complies with the water framework directive. NGOs have already sent a letter to Environmental Commissioner, Mr. Potocnik, asking why the Commission has not taken a position yet. The initial study commissioned by the Commission agrees with NGOs position.
* Spanish radioactive waste storage
The Spanish government is facing serious problems to find a suitable location to build a temporary dry storage facility for high level radioactive waste. Local residents and environmentalists of the Valencia region have blocked the motorway to protest against the decision.
See also Valencian Government
* Spanish support for coal
The Commission has approved Spain’s new state aid plan to support the domestic production of coal. The aid has been authorized on the ground that it will help the security of energy supply because electricity coming from renewable sources is still under a safety threshold. WWF and ClientofEarth criticized the decision: it would undermine the soundness of climate and environmental policy and it would equally affect competition against more efficient producers.
Added to Upcoming events
* Financing energy efficiency programmes: why and how sustainability leaders must ensure that their company competes in efficiency
The Conference will take into account progress made in the field of reducing carbon and money. The organization will provide several round tables, among these: sustainability supply chain, carbon management strategies, green communication, sustainable transport and sustainable energy.
Location: Canada Square, London, England
Date: 11 October
* European Environmental Policy: the making of environmental and climate policies in Brussels
The seminar will focus on how environmental policies develop, especially after the result of the Copenhagen conference. Discussions will pay attention to procedures and the role institutional actors can play, particularly the DG Environment and the Council. Regarding national experts, they will fully understand how legislative acts are negotiated and how they can influence the institutions.
Location: European Institute of Public Administration, Maastricht, Netherlands
Date: 11-12 October
* Changing fuels or changing patterns? The role of renewable energy in sustainable urban mobility
The conference will analyze the impact of biofuels on urban transport and mobility. Moreover, other solutions will be proposed as instruments to tackle greenhouse gas, for instance reinforcing public transport and car sharing.
Location: Concert Hall, Freiburg, Germany
Date: 14-15 October 2010
Wybe Th. Douma (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
Marco Inglese (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
Marco van der Harst (T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague)
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