Connect with us

EU Politics

PES: Air quality rules and citizens’ health are non-negotiable

Newsroom

Published

on

The EU needs to protect citizens from pollution, not loosen air quality rules as conservatives suggest, the Party of Europeans Socialists said today.

In response to diesel car bans in certain areas of some German cities, CSU and CDU politicians have criticised Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella and the EU’s air quality rules. They are calling for nitrogen oxide limits to be revised so they are less strict, but their argument is based on the opinion of a small group of lung doctors who doubt the health-harming effects of nitrogen oxide.

The PES defends Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella against unfounded and personal attacks.

Sergei Stanishev, President of the PES, said: “The quality of the air we breathe should really not be something we have to fight for. Pollution is especially harmful to the most vulnerable people: the elderly, the sick, children and pregnant women. This is exactly why we have limits on nitrogen oxide and fine particles.

“The debate that some conservatives want to start is based on an opinion from a handful of doctors that the vast majority of health researchers and professional disagree with. It’s good to see that Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella is not intending to lower the limits, but rather to strengthen them.

“We want to protect people’s health. Our manifest for the European elections will focus on how we can combine the protection of our planet with the health and economic interests of all our citizens. It’s the job of public authorities – national and European – to ensure a just transition to a more sustainable and cleaner society.”

Continue Reading
Comments

EU Politics

Implementation of reforms continues to bring EU and Ukraine closer together

Newsroom

Published

on

The new President, Parliament and Government of Ukraine have all stated their commitment to the continued implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. A report published today by the EU finds that, over the past year, Ukraine has adopted important legislation and strengthened institutions, as demanded by the Ukrainian citizens, but that further work is needed, particularly to improve the business and investment climate.

The Association Agreement continues to bring the European Union and Ukraine closer together. Thanks to this agreement, the European Union has become Ukraine’s main trading partner, and since the EU introduced visa-free travel to the European Union for Ukrainian citizens two years ago, they have made over three million visits”, said the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell. “That Ukraine is undertaking such substantial and important reforms at the same time as its independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty are being challenged is all the more impressive. Ukraine can continue to count on the EU’s support.”

“The Ukrainian authorities have made progress with reforms over the past year, notably in areas that will help to create the foundations for future growth and prosperity for Ukrainian citizens. Many newly adopted laws now await implementation, and the European Union will continue to be there to accompany this process”, said the Commissioner for the Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi. “At the same time, it is important to implement the reforms in line with the shared common values of democracy, rule of law, respect for international law and human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.”

The Association Implementation Report on Ukraine looks at the implementation of the commitments under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, in the context of the revised European Neighbourhood Policy. It covers the period since the publication of the last report in November 2018 until the publication of this report and feeds into the EU-Ukraine Association Council, which will take place in Brussels on 28 January 2020.

Real reform progress but gaps remain

Today’s report highlights a number of areas where Ukraine has made rapid progress in its reforms and others where reforms remain incomplete or in need of higher attention.

In the area of the fight against corruption, the High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC) began operating on 5 September. Its work is particularly important as no high-level officials have so far been convicted for corruption. Illicit enrichment was re-criminalised, while laws on the relaunching of the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption and on the protection of whistle-blowers were adopted. The perpetrators of the PrivatBank fraud are yet to be prosecuted, while the recovery of funds allegedly embezzled remains incomplete

Concerning energy, the unbundling of Naftogaz is due to be completed by the end of 2019. However, the implementation of the electricity sector reform remains challenging in the current oligopolistic market structure. The Energy Efficiency Fund, created with the support of €104 million from the EU, started operations.

Ukraine’s trade with the EU continued to increase and the EU maintained its position as Ukraine’s first export market. The Ukrainian economy continued to grow and its finances and banking sector have stabilised. However, the report highlights a need to improve the business climate and encourage investment, in particular by enforcing the rule of law and supporting the fight against corruption, if living standards are to be raised.

Economic and sectoral reforms have delivered notable achievements such as the budget law, customs, market deregulation, public procurement and health, though the latter has advanced more slowly. Reforms remained limited in the sphere of intellectual property rights.

Since 2014, the EU, together with European financial institutions, has mobilised an unprecedented support package of over €15 billion in grants and loans to support reforms in Ukraine.

Background

The European Neighbourhood Policy and its review in 2015 provides the EU and its neighbours with a clear political framework for the coming years. The principles of the revised policy are: enhanced differentiation between partners; a greater focus on mutually-agreed objectives; increased flexibility to improve the EU’s capacity to respond to crises; and a greater ownership by Member States and partner countries.

The Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, entered into force 1 September 2017. It promotes deeper political ties, stronger economic links and respect for common values, and is the basis for EU-Ukraine cooperation and EU support for reforms in Ukraine.

Continue Reading

EU Politics

EU steps up economic partnership with Kenya to boost job creation

Newsroom

Published

on

Today, the European Commission announced two new programmes totalling €31 million to boost investment and create jobs in Kenya.

In Nairobi, European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said: “We have a close and valued partnership with Kenya, driven by common objectives and aligned with the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs and Kenya’s Big Four Agenda. I’m delighted to announce these new programmes today, which will deepen our economic partnership, boost Kenya’s economic potential, improve the investment climate, and create jobs. They are further evidence of our mutually beneficial cooperation to promote sustainable development to eradicate poverty.”

The two programmes will support strategic dialogue and strengthen the EU-Kenya economic partnership: 

  • €26 million will be directed at reforms of Kenya’s public finances to promote economic stability, improve service delivery and tackle poverty.
  • €5 million will target economic cooperation and national policy reforms. It will also provide technical support for implementing Kenya’s Vision 2030 and ‘Big 4′ agenda.

During her visit to Kenya, Commissioner Urpilainen held talks with, amongst others, President Uhuru Kenyatta and acting Treasury Minister Ukur Yatani to discuss future bilateral cooperation between Kenya and the EU. She also gave a keynote speech at the 9th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) and met young leaders to exchange with them on political, economic and social issues and learn about their priorities for Kenya’s development. On Sunday, she visited the Kalobeyei refugee settlement, where the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa works with UN partners to ensure that refugees and the host community live together peacefully, have access to social services and develop economic ties to build sustainable livelihoods.

Background 

The EU’s cooperation with Kenya amounts to €435 million for the period 2014-2020. The country also benefits from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa – with over €58.3 million for 2015-2019.

In 2018, the European Union and its Member States present in Kenya signed the second phase of their Joint Programming strategy, supporting the priorities of the Kenyan government’s ‘Big 4′ Agenda, which seeks to boost manufacturing, food and nutrition, security, affordable housing and universal health coverage.

The first European Joint Cooperation Strategy (2014 – 2017) was aligned with Kenya’s National Development Plan (Vision 2030).

Continue Reading

EU Politics

Agreement on linking the emissions trading systems of the EU and Switzerland

Newsroom

Published

on

As ministers gather at the COP25 in Madrid to discuss the rules for international carbon markets, the EU and Switzerland finalised the process that allows for the link of their emissions trading systems to enter into force. As of 2020 allowances from both systems can be used for compliance to compensate for emissions occurring in either system. The Linking Agreement between the EU and Switzerland is the first of its kind, and demonstrates that emissions trading systems can pave the way to broader international carbon markets.

Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “The Linking Agreement between the EU and Switzerland, which also covers the aviation sector, sends a strong signal that we can create broader and more comprehensive carbon markets with benefits to our climate and environment.”

There are significant benefits to linking carbon markets. By expanding the market and increasing the availability of emission reduction opportunities, the cost-effectiveness of the linked systems can be increased and their liquidity enhanced, thus resulting in better burden sharing, more efficient emissions reductions, and decreased overall compliance costs. The European Green Deal will strongly support these principles, underlining that with linked carbon markets we can bring carbon prices in different countries closer together, which in turn may reduce carbon leakage risks. Linking also strengthens cooperation between parties with binding targets and encourages others to take action, as well as to support global cooperation on climate change and the development of a global carbon market.

Background

The EU ETS Directive allows for linking, provided both systems are compatible, mandatory and have an absolute emission caps. These conditions for linking have been laid down in the Annexes to the Linking Agreement and will ensure that both parties meet these requirements.

Negotiations on the Linking Agreement between the EU and Switzerland started in 2011. The linking agreement was signed at the end of 2017 and will enter into force on 1 January 2020.

Continue Reading

Latest

Trending