Saturday, 19 October 2013

This Week In The EU ...

I'm hoping to make this a regular blog post as practically no-one in the mainstream media seems to be reporting these things ...

It was disappointing to see that a delegation of MEP's visited Azerbaijan during it's Presidential election on the 9th October and reported that the election was "transparent and fair" and then had to undergo the embarrassment of official election observers from the OSCE reporting that it was anything but. It's astonishing that anyone, let alone MEP's would allow themselves to be duped in this way.

On Monday member states' finance ministers travelled to Luxembourg to sign off new rules on bank supervision. This supervision will be mainly carried out by the European Central bank. Members states environment ministers also reviewed the rules on the export of dangerous waste to developing countries. EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik (Slovenia, Lib Dem) pointed out that 25% of all teh waste exports contain dangerous waste and the current rules are *clearly* not working. Unfortunately though ministers are reluctant to tighten the rules.

On Tuesday the European Environment Agency published a report on air pollution which showed it to be the most prominent environmental cause of death. Responsible for 400,000 premature deaths across the EU (ten times as many as deaths on the roads) and 100 million working days lost in 2010, it is estimated to cost us up to €500 bn a year. The European Commission is likely to propose tougher rules to combat it.

A proposal to include aircraft emissions within EU airspace in the emissions trading system was adopted at the European Commission's weekly Wednesday morning meeting. If approved by Council and Parliament it will take effect next January and will prevail until a global emissions agreement is reached in 2016 or thereafter. Unfortunately we can expect more hollering from China, India and the USA; but with aircraft emissions being the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas production it is important to act to force the pace.

Italy led calls for the early introduction of the new 'Eurosur' maritime border surveillance mechanism following the arrival of yet more refugees across the Mediterranean. 18 member states plan to introduce this satellite based information sharing system in December with the rest joining a year later. The legal base is due to be approved by Parliament next week and by the Council of Ministers later this month.

Meetings this week involving MEPs and member state representatives failed to resolve outstanding issues over the budget, though the member states finally agreed to meet their commitments on last year's unpaid bills. And, as predicted, the employment ministers failed to agree on rules governing the posting of workers to work on contracts in other member states. They will return to the matter at their 9-10 December meeting when I confidently predict they will fail to agree again.