Expert analysis, features and profiles of key topical issues in the European Union.
The UK Government has said that Britain will not seek to remain part of the Single Market post-Brexit. However, sectoral deals to retain access to parts of the Single Market have not been ruled out.
When faced with seismic pressures that may affect the very market position your products and brands hold, how does a manufacturer respond?
100 days on from the fateful UK referendum, the only thing agreed on is the huge complexity of Brexit. This justifies the wait-and-see approach of the UK government which, by cataloguing the many problems that need to be resolved, is carrying out a kind of giant impact assessment. But one aspect of negotiations seems to have been overlooked or at least under-estimated: the relationship with the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
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The upcoming election in Germany is being widely touted as one of the most important elections of 2013. The pending outcome of this election is largely anticipated in Europe. Whilst, Merkel is tipped to win her third campaign, recent election results suggest otherwise.
On May 15, word got out that Greece will go to the polls again on June 17. The left-wing, anti-austerity bloc has a fair chance of victory. Potentially, this could lead to the demise of Greece's place in the eurozone whereas Spain, Portugal, and Ireland may be next.
The European crisis has unfolded in three stages. It started when the Great Recession set in. Soon afterwards, a political crisis broke out. Politicians failed to address the underlying causes of the recession. Now these economic and political setbacks have triggered the crisis of European unity.
Over the next 24 hours EU Prime Ministers gather for the latest Summit trying yet again to solve the EUs debt problems. They will also be considering how to boost growth through measures to help SMEs.
Energy efficiency is the quickest and most cost-effective way to create jobs in green industries, improve energy security and reduce emissions. Improving homes also improves the health and happiness of inhabitants. The payback period – the time before the savings are greater than the initial investment – is usually only a few years. However, most governments and individuals are short of money for investment at present. Therefore, it is very surprising that there is substantial money available from the EU for energy efficiency work, which has not been claimed.
The European Commission has now published a draft directive on safety standards for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and research facilities. Part of the Commission’s aim is to build public confidence in nuclear power – in 2009 the EU adopted rules on the safety of operating power plants and on-site storage.
Yesterday the European Commission presented its proposals for a new energy strategy for the next decade. In Brussels jargon this is known as the Energy Action Plan. The EU is good at plans, less good at action, so the Commission has wisely named this document simply Energy 2020.
The European Court of Justice has issued a temporary injunction preventing the Spanish government from subsidising the use of domestically produced coal in electricity generation.
Using energy more efficiently is the cheapest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also has economic, energy security and employment benefits. In a speech to a conference on EU energy policy on 30 September 2010, energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger identified energy efficiency as his “first priority”. However, EU policy and performance in this area has been disappointing to date.
Ed Miliband has been elected Labour leader. This is good news for UK climate politics, as he was a good energy and climate change secretary, taking the right steps on energy efficiency, renewables and nuclear, and some of the right steps on coal.
The EU aspires to be a world leader in reducing carbon emissions. It seeks to develop renewable sources of energy and new ways of making coal and gas cleaner. Success in these areas would enhance the EU’s energy security and foster innovative sectors, as well as helping the EU to achieve its climate change targets. But it will require significant investment.
The European Commission has done well in securing some – though not nearly enough – money to support renewables and CCS from the European economic recovery plan and from auctioning permits under the EU’s emissions trading scheme. The recovery plan’s grants are just €1 billion. By comparison, EU countries (particularly Germany and Spain) paid out €3 billion in national coal subsidies in 2008 alone.
The demand to ‘make the polluter pay’ by putting a price on the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced has been a major point of discussion and debate across Europe since the mid-1980s.
Once again, European governments have been debating whether the EU greenhouse reduction target should be increased, from 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 to 30%, also by 2020. 20% will be easier to achieve than expected, given the recession, but is not enough of a reduction, so the target should be increased to 30%. This would also inject some momentum into the international negotiations, which is much needed.
The debate should not be between subsidy and no subsidy, but between subsidy for low carbon energy and energy efficiency and subsidy for high carbon energy.