Connect with us

EU Politics

EU Commission supports Member States in their transition to a climate-neutral economy

Published

on

The European Commission has approved all requests made by 18 Member States for support with the preparation of their territorial just transition plans, which each Member State will have to draw up to get access to funding from the Just Transition Mechanism. To recall, the Just Transition Mechanism is part of the European Green Deal Investment Plan and will mobilise at least €100 billion of investments to provide additional targeted support to the regions most impacted by the transition towards a climate-neutral economy and with less capacity to deal with the challenge. The approval follows a dedicated call, launched by the Commission at the end of February 2020 under the Structural Reform Support Programme.

Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “Our work on delivering the European Green Deal continues. Climate change remains a reality. Fighting it is as pressing as before. The Commission is strongly backing Member States to ensure a just transition in all European regions. This support under the Structural Reform Support Programme is an important step – it will help to establish transition plans and allow Member States to benefit from the Just Transition Mechanism, making sure the transition towards a green economy happens in a fair way, leaving no one behind.

Under the Structural Reform Support Programme, the Commission will provide tailor-made expertise to, for example, help national and regional authorities:

  • assess the social, economic and environmental impacts of the transition and outline the transition process up to 2030;
  • build a dialogue among stakeholders, such as citizens, business and civil society, to reach a common vision on how to go about the transition;
  • and identify actions to achieve a successful just transition. 

Next steps

Over the next months, until end of 2020, the Commission will provide targeted support to help Member States with the preparation of territorial just transition plans. Member States will hold the pen in drafting and finalising the territorial just transition plans,in close consultation with relevant national, regional and local stakeholders, ensuring ownership of the transition. The plans will then be submitted to the Commission for approval.

Background

On 11 December 2019, the Commission presented the European Green Deal, with the ambition of becoming the first climate-neutral bloc in the world by 2050.

On 14 January 2020, the Commission announced the European Green Deal Investment Plan  to help finance the transition. But not all Member States start from the same point in their transition – some will be more impacted than others. The Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) is a key tool to ensure that the transition towards a climate-neutral economy happens in a fair way, leaving no one behind. The Mechanism provides targeted support to help mobilise at least €100 billion over the period 2021-2027 in the most affected regions, to alleviate the socio-economic impact of the transition. Special attention will be paid to regions strongly impacted by the transition but with less capacity to deal with its challenges.

To access funding, Member States have to draw up, in dialogue with the Commission, territorial just transition plans. In these plans, Member States will identify territories that would be most impacted by the transition towards a climate-neutral economy, set out the development challenges of these territories, and outline their pathways for transition until 2030, in close consultation with relevant national, regional and local stakeholders. The Commission’s approval of these plans will unlock the support of Member States through the 3 pillars of the Just Transition Mechanism: 1) the Just Transition Fund, which will provide grants that will mobilise €30-50 billion for social and economic transformation in just transition regions; 2) a dedicated scheme under InvestEU, which will crowd-in up to €45 billion in private investment, and 3) a public sector loan facility, which will mobilise €25-30 billion euros in public sector investment.

The Commission is providing swift support to Member States through the Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP) to help prepare their territorial just transition plans and thus implement the European Green Deal. To do so, at the end of February, the Commission launched a dedicated call under the SRSP to help prepare the territorial just transition plans. 18 Member States (BE, BG, CY, CZ, EL, ES, FI, HR, HU, IE, IT, LT, LV, PL, PT, RO, SE and SK) requested such support and the Commission approved all 18 requests. Over the past two years, the Commission already provided hands-on support to regions through the SRSP to help prepare long-term economic strategies for their transition out of coal, such as in Slovakia’s Horna Nitra region, Greece’s Western Macedonia or Romania’s Jiu Valley.

Continue Reading
Comments

EU Politics

Conditions worsen for stranded migrants along Belarus-EU border

Published

on

At least eight people have died along the border between Belarus and the European Union, where multiple groups of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants have been stranded for weeks in increasingly dire conditions. 

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCRappealed for urgent action on Friday, to save lives and prevent further suffering at the border with Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. The latest casualty was reported within the past few days. 

UNHCR warned that the situation will further and rapidly deteriorate as winter approaches, putting more lives in danger. 

For the Agency’s Regional Director for Europe, Pascale Moreau, “when fundamental human rights are not protected, lives are at stake.” 

“It is unacceptable that people have died, and the lives of others are precariously hanging in the balance. They are held hostage by a political stalemate which needs to be solved now,” he said. 

According to media reports, the EU regards the increase in asylum seekers at the border, a direct result of Belarus, in effect, weaponizing migrants, in retaliation for sanctions placed on the Government over the suppression of the protest movement following last year’s disputed re-election of President Lukashenko.  

International group 

Among those stranded are 32 Afghan women, men and children. They have been left in limbo between Poland and Belarus since mid-August, unable to access asylum and any form of assistance. They do not have proper shelter and no secure source of food or water. 

A group of 16 Afghans tried to cross into Poland this week, but they were apprehended and not allowed to apply for asylum. They were also denied access to legal assistance. Within a few hours, they were pushed back across the border to Belarus. 

So far, UNHCR has not been granted access to meet with the group from the Polish side, despite repeated requests, and only met them a few times from the Belarusian side to deliver life-saving aid. 

International law 

The Agency has been advocating for the group to be granted asylum, since the Afghans have expressed their wish to settle either in Belarus or in Poland. 

The request has been ignored by both sides. For UNHCR, that is “a clear violation of international refugee law and international human rights law.” 

“We urge Belarus and Poland, as signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, to abide by their international legal obligations and provide access to asylum for those seeking it at their borders.  

“Pushbacks, that deny access to territory and asylum, violate human rights in breach of international law”, said Mr. Moreau. 

UNHCR urges the authorities to determine and address humanitarian and international protection needs, and find viable solutions. The agency also stands ready to support refugees, together with other relevant stakeholders. 

“People must be able to exercise their rights where they are, be it in Belarus or in Poland or other EU States where they may be located. This must include the possibility to seek asylum, access to legal aid, information and appropriate accommodation”, Mr. Moreau concluded. 

Continue Reading

EU Politics

Focus on the recovery from the pandemic at the 19th EU Regions Week

Published

on

The annual European Week of Regions and Cities has shown how the EU and national and regional governments can support European citizens and their local communities with public policies aimed at investing in a fairer, greener and more digital future for recovery. Under the theme ‘Together for Recovery’, more than 300 sessions, including debates with high-profile officials, regional and local representatives, an inspiring Citizens’ Dialogue, various workshops as well as an Award for outstanding young journalists, celebrated the EU values of cohesion and solidarity.

Taking place in a hybrid format, with sessions both physical and virtual, the 19th EU Regions Week had one main mission: highlighting the role of EU investments in the recovery from the pandemic and in facing common challenges. The event kicked off with a press conference with Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, who underlined that “Cohesion Policy was one of the first responders in the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, driven by the core value of EU solidarity”.

The second annual local and regional barometer was presented by Apostolos Tzitzikostas, followed by a debate with members of the European Committee of the Regions. The report confirmed that the pandemic related measures put at risk regional and local finances, resulting in a 180 billion budget cut for local and regional authorities across Europe. At the same time, 1 in 3 local and regional politicians want regions and cities to become more influential in EU policy-making on health issues.

Unless we measure the state of our regions and cities, we cannot understand the state of our Union” said Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions. “Only by taking the pulse of our communities, we can decide how effective the EU has been on the ground, and what the EU needs to do to help its people”.

Further taking stock of the EU cohesion policy response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as informing the general public, various workshops touched upon life before and after the pandemic, including explanations regarding the role of regions and cities for a Green Transition, the Cohesion Policy 2021-2027 and NextGenerationEU, as well as the CRII, CRII+, React-EU support packages for regional and local healthcare services and equipment.

Young journalists were also invited to take part in the EU Regions Week 2021, getting the opportunity to debate with Elisa Ferreira at the Citizens’ Dialogue. In the Youth4Regions programme for aspiring journalists, Irene Barahona Fernandez from Spain and Jack Ryan from Ireland won the 2021 Megalizzi-Niedzielski prize for aspiring journalists.

About the event

The European Week of Regions and Cities (#EURegionsWeek) is the largest EU-wide event on regional development. It is co-organised by the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions.

In total, more than 12 000 participants and 900 speakers joined the 4-day event either physically or online, showing engagement in all corners of EU society – from our vibrant youth to our high-profile officials, local and regional representatives, academic experts and professional specialists, displaying a common readiness to tackle what the future holds, together.

Continue Reading

EU Politics

EU and Qatar sign landmark aviation agreement

Published

on

The European Union and the State of Qatar today signed a comprehensive air transport agreement, upgrading rules and standards for flights between Qatar and the EU. The agreement sets a new global benchmark by committing both sides to fair competition, and by including social and environmental protection. The signing means new opportunities for consumers, airlines and airports in Qatar and the EU.

Qatar is an increasingly important aviation partner for the EU. It was the 15th largest extra-EU market in 2019 with 6.3 million passengers travelling between the EU and Qatar. Ensuring open and fair competition for air services between both is therefore crucial, also for routes between the EU and Asia.

Adina Vălean, Commissioner for mobility and transport, said: “This agreement, the first one between the EU and the Gulf region, is a global benchmark for forward-looking aviation agreements. It is testimony to our shared commitment to economically, socially and environmentally sustainable aviation, based on a modern framework covering fair competition and closer cooperation on social and environmental matters. This agreement will bring new opportunities, more choice and higher standards for passengers, industry and aviation workers.”

Today’s agreement creates a level playing field that is expected to result in new air transport opportunities and economic benefits for both sides:

  • All EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights from any airport in the EU to Qatar and vice versa for Qatari airlines.
  • EU airports in Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands will be subject to a gradual build-up of capacity until 2024. For more details on this, see the Q&A.
  • Strong provisions on open and fair competition will guarantee a level playing field.
  • The parties recognised the importance of social matters, agreed to cooperate on these and to improve their respective social and labour laws and policies as per their international commitments.

The agreement will facilitate people-to-people contacts and expand commercial opportunities and trade. Going beyond traffic rights, the EU-Qatar agreement will provide a single set of rules, high standards and a platform for future cooperation on a wide range of aviation issues.

Background

Qatar is a close aviation partner for the European Union; more than 6 million passengers travelled between the EU and Qatar per year under the existing 26 bilateral air transport agreements with EU Member States prior to the pandemic. While direct flights between most EU Member States and Qatar have already been liberalised by those bilateral agreements, none of them include provisions on fair competition, or social and environmental issues, which the Commission considers essential for a modern aviation agreement.

In 2016, the European Commission obtained authorisation from the Council to negotiate an EU-level aviation agreement with Qatar, which started on 4 March 2019. While the agreement still needs to be ratified by the parties before formally entering into force, it will start being applied from today’s signature.

Similar EU comprehensive air transport agreements have been signed with other partner countries, namely the United States, Canada, the Western Balkans, Morocco, Georgia, Jordan, Moldova, Israel and Ukraine. Further air transport agreements with Armenia and Tunisia are expected to be signed in the coming weeks.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

people art people art
Reports2 hours ago

Global Wealth Has Grown, But at the Expense of Future Prosperity

Global wealth has grown overall—but at the expense of future prosperity and by exacerbating inequalities, according to the World Bank’s...

Africa Today7 hours ago

Climate Change Could Further Impact Africa’s Recovery

The World Bank’s new Groundswell Africa reports, released today ahead of the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties...

African Renaissance11 hours ago

The Cemetery Of The Mind

This is me. The voices are inside my head. Calling me. Speaking in ancient tongues. They talk and talk and...

USA China Trade War USA China Trade War
Economy14 hours ago

The US-China Trade War

Trade deficit with China became a major issue in 2016 American election. Touching the sensibilities of American working class, Donald...

Defense16 hours ago

ASEAN has the ability to counteract AUKUS’ Cold War strategies

Authors: Raihan Ronodipuro & Hafizha Dwi Ulfa* The United States’ new tripartite defense alliance with the United Kingdom and Australia,...

Intelligence18 hours ago

Chaos Maker: Bernard-Henry Levy video in Panjshir and the chaos making in the Middle East

First: The Israeli-French intelligence maneuver deliberately displaying the video of the French-Israeli Jewish chaos maker “Bernard-Henry Levy” globally to form...

Southeast Asia20 hours ago

The 38th ASEAN Summit Meeting: Agenda and Outcomes

The 38th ASEAN summit meeting is held from October 26-28th and the list of areas to concentrate for the ASEAN would be far too many which includes...

Trending