EEL News Service 2010/15, 12 November 2010
Added to Case Law, ECJ
* Spanish coal aid plan put on hold
The president of the Court ordered, on the basis of article 105, para. 2 of the rules of procedure of the General Court, the provisional suspension of the execution of the Commission decision challenged in cases T-484/10 Gas Natural Fenosa / Commission, T-486/10 Iberdrola /Commission and T-490/10 Endesa / Commission. The order for the application of an interim measure will be given at a later date, the text of which is yet to be published on the Curia website. The result of this procedure is that the Spanish government is prevented temporarily from implementing its plan to subsidize the use of domestically produced coal for electricity generation, a plan approved by a Commission decision of September 2010. The aid plan became law in October 2010 and requires producers to purchase a certain amount of Spanish-mined coal annually until 2014. The court will decide within a couple of months whether to issue a full injunction and launch an investigation, requested by Spanish producers, a court spokesperson told ENDS Daily.
Added to Policy documents
* The Council rejects Commission amendments on hazardous substances
The Council opposes the Commission proposal on new exemptions for hazardous substances in vehicles. Ministries said that the problem is not material but procedural, since the Commission has exceeded its powers provided for in the basic act, directive 2000/53EC. However, the Commission shall modify the contested points as soon as possible in order to submit a new proposal.
* New guide lines on nuclear plants
The Commission has issued new guidelines on the decommissioning of nuclear plants and the management of radioactive waste attached to recommendation 2006/851 Euratom. This is an update of the previous version of guidelines issued 4 years ago. Commission officials said a draft directive on nuclear waste is to be expected soon. Greenpeace expresses concerns about the guidelines, in particular about the geological situation data used by the Commission.
* The Commission is preparing strategies on low carbon economy by 2050
The Commission has launched a stakeholder consultation on ways to achieve the strategic targets on CO2 emission reductions by 2050. The plan should be published by the next summer and the preliminary indications refer to a cut of CO2 emissions between 80% and 90%.
See also Commission's roadmap
* The Council approves a revised directive on industrial emissions
The industrial emissions directive applies to air, soil and water pollution caused by industrial installations and it is aimed at preventing harmful effects locally rather than mitigating global emissions. The directive amends seven directives and is based on the principle of the best available techniques.
See also Council press release (the directive is not yet available on the Official Journal)
Added to sector Chemical
* Ban on phosphates
The Commission has proposed a regulation to ban the use of phosphates in household laundry detergents since they are particularly dangerous for marine waters. The ban will apply as of January 2013, so that producers will have enough time to modify product components. So far, harmonized EU legislation on the matter does not exist and thus Member States are left free to choose how to regulate this. The ban does not affect professional use and dishwashers, a fact strongly criticized by WWF.
Added to sector Climate Change
* Seven States have not yet complied with the EU ETS
France, Slovakia, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Greece and Poland have not as yet transposed the ETS directive on the inclusion of the aviation sector. They have until 2 February 2011 to do so.
* EU is discussing the Kyoto Protocol amendment
The European Union is considering the modification of the Kyoto Protocol flexible mechanisms and the options on the second commitment period currently negotiated in the post-2012 discussion. In particular, the EU wants a comprehensive binding legal instrument for developed and developing countries and is prepared to increase the 20% GHG emission reduction target by 2020 if others do so as well.
See also Council conclusions
Added to sector Energy
*Guidelines on wind energy
The Commission published guidelines on wind installations in order to clarify their minimum impact on biodiversity. These guidelines should apply to sites protected by the birds and habitat directives. The guidelines point out that wind sites do not harm biodiversity and that the location of wind sites has to be identified in accordance with the habitat directive which sets out a prior environmental assessment.
* IEEP study on National Renewable Energy Action Plans
The Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) analyses the National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) that each Member State has to submit to the Commission in order to comply with directive 2009/28/EC. Since one of the cornerstones of this directive is the promotion of renewable sources within the transport sector, the study especially focuses on the impact of biofuel production on land use change. The outcome is surprising as the production of biofuels will raise the level of GHG emissions and this is clearly in opposition to EU climate change policy.
See also IEEP
Added to sector General
* Commission launches infringement procedure against several Member States
The Commission is acting severely against several Member States in order to enforce EU environmental law. Sweden did not comply with the IPPC directive and there are still a number of installations operating working without the necessary permits. France failed to notify domestic measures implementing the floods directive. Austria and Ireland have not yet transposed the directive on inland transport of dangerous goods. Spain is going to be brought before the ECJ once again for failure to comply with a 2010 ruling on the Seveso II directive. Malta, Greece, Denmark, Belgium, Cyprus, Slovenia and Slovakia were notified with a reasoned opinion by the Commission in regard of river basin management plans. Furthermore, Belgium has failed to implement the air quality directive.
See also: report on the implementation of the IPPC directive and IPPC directive, floods report and floods directive, dangerous goods report and dangerous goods directive, Seveso II, noise report and noise directive, water basin and framework water directive
* ENDS analyses US midterm election outcome
ENDS explains how the outcome of the US midterm election can influence EU climate change policy. From the point of view of lawmaking, extensive interviews have shown that most new Republican Congress members deny the existence of climate change and anthropogenic influence on environment. Relationships with EU and other countries will be affected in two ways: firstly, EU ETS scheme remains a unicum and will not be followed; second, EU itself will not be willing to raise the cap of 20% anymore because it has always claimed the cooperation of other leading actors to do so.
See also ENDS
Added to sector Nature and Agriculture
* Difficult to reach agreements at Nagoya summit
Governments gathered in Nagoya faced disagreements on several issues addressed by the COP of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Several different views are contending; the EU for instance says that maritime protected areas should cover 15% of the global waters while China claims a reduction at 6% and Brazil, Norway and Japan want to maintain the current status of 10%. So far, agreement has been reached on only a few of the topics at issue, namely those on the elimination of subsidies jeopardizing biodiversity. Brazil in particular, puts forward its own policy claiming for a binding protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing in the field of genetic resources.
* Deal reached at Nagoya summit
Nagoya summit ends with a legally binding protocol on the protection of biodiversity for 2011-2020. States have agreed on the protection of the terrestrial zone at 17% and at 10% for the marine one. Moreover, there are also basic rules on access and benefit sharing of genetic resources (ABS). A ban on geo-engineering affecting climate change and biodiversity has been introduced; exceptions are allowed only in presence of scientific data excluding harmful effects. The protocol will have to be ratified in accordance with the domestic constitutional procedure of ratification of the 193 parties of the UN Convention on biodiversity (1992), which does not include the US.
* Proposal on GM animal feed
The Commission has proposed a draft regulation which would introduce more lenient rules on GM animal feed. Under the current system, any traces of unauthorized GM allow materials to be sent back while the Commission argues that different lab tests would give rise to legal uncertainty and lead ultimately to trade distortion. The new policy would not affect human food at the moment. NGOs opposed the proposal since it would increase the import of non authorized substances.
* Brazilian complaints against EU study on biofuels
The Brazilian association of sugarcane producers (UNICA) has contested the methods used in the EU study on the effect of biofuels crops on land. According to UNICA, these results are incorrect and may be challenged before the World Trade Organization. NGOs argue moreover that the EU strategy on biofuels could lead to more CO2 emissions due to the massive use of forests. Furthermore, they have started a lawsuit against the Commission for denied access to information.
See also UNICA comment
Added to sector Waste
* Proposal on nuclear waste management
The new proposal is aimed at introducing the standards on nuclear waste management in the EU set out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In doing so, the proposed directive (2010/0306COM) would leave Member States free to choose the disposal methods and the locations. Member States would be required to draw up –and notify the Commission- national programs containing intervention deadlines, costs and the management of facilities. The directive also includes a provision which bans the export of nuclear waste to third countries when this is permissible to other Member States. The proposal does not impose the way nuclear waste should be treated, but simply suggests using deep underground storage as this is considered the safest method. Greenpeace contests that there is no consensus on that point and greens MEPs disagree on the definition of nuclear waste. Since the directive is enacted under the Euratom Treaty, the Council does not need Parliament approval.
The following national pages have been updated: Bulgaria, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland
* Bulgaria shall miss its target on renewably energies
Since Bulgaria has not yet achieved the 2011 target on renewable energies, it is likely that it will fail to comply with the 2020 objectives as well. Problems are in the sectors of wind, solar and biomass. Since Bulgaria has granted great incentives for investment in renewable energies, government officials have calculated that the national grid cannot support such high pressure which could lead ultimately to a severe blackout.
See also Reuters
* Italy has been fined again
According to the Commission, Italy should pay a daily fine of €195,840 for non compliance with an ECJ ruling of 2004 on waste management. Italy has in fact failed to clean up three landfills containing hazardous waste. If condemned a second time, Italy will have to pay €21,420 for each day between the two rulings. Italy promises to finish the operation by March 2011.
* Commission authorized Dutch state aid
The Commission approved a scheme of Dutch state aid of €150million for carbon capture and storage. The CO2 emissions captured will be transported to the North Sea via a pipeline. Previously, the Commission authorized a similar UK scheme.
See also: Commission press release
* Spain will increase biofuels production slowly
The new 3 year Spanish plan will allow slow growth in the sectors of biofuels and ethanol. The plan foresees 5.9% in 2011 up to 6.1% in 2013 while the rate between 2008 and 2010 was between 1.9% and 5.8%.
See also Spanish industry ministry
* Switzerland will launch a new green plan
Switzerland is going to enact a new plan on green technologies containing new measures dealing with research, climate change and energy efficiency. Specific attention will be given to building standards, green public procurement and more environmental information. Furthermore, new tax plans will take the new environmental impetus into account.
See also the plan (available only in German)
Added to Upcoming Events
* International Meeting on Marine Resources
The conference is organized in order to assess the present level of scientific knowledge in the overall sector of maritime resources. Specific attention will be devoted to fisheries research, management, aquaculture, conservation and biodiversity, marine biotechnology and seafood.
Location: Escola Superior de Turismo e Tecnologia do Mar, Peniche, Portugal
Date: 16-17 November 2010
* Electrical and Electronic Equipment and the Environment 2010: Meeting the Technical and Regulatory Challenges
The conference will deal with some important aspects that closely link environment and technical issues in the specific field of electrical and electronic equipments.
Location: Sheraton Skyline Hotel & Conference Centre, Heathrow, London, UK
Date: 17-18 November 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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