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

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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.

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“It looks like most of them were shot in the head…”

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Image source: NYT

The New York Times” confirmed the location of the farmhouse by comparing the aerial video of the episode with satellite imagery of Makiivka, Luhansk. A series of videos that surfaced on social media last week has ignited a debate over whether Ukrainian forces committed war crimes as they tried to capture a group of Russian soldiers who were then killed.

The videos show the grisly before-and-after scenes of the encounter earlier this month, in which at least 11 Russians, most of whom are seen lying on the ground (photo), appear to have been shot dead at close range.

The videos, detailed below and whose authenticity has been verified by “The New York Times”, offer a rare look into one gruesome moment among many in the war.

The videos were first circulated by Ukrainian news and social media channels that used them to laud the military prowess of their armed forces and publicize their heroic retaking of territory lost to Russia early in the war.

In Russia, however, the videos prompted a fierce response among Russian commentators, who urged the government to seek an international investigation.

“We are aware of the videos, and we are looking into them,” Marta Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Human Rights Office, told Reuters. “Allegations of summary executions of people hors de combat should be promptly, fully and effectively investigated, and any perpetrators held to account.”

Under international law, the French term “hors de combat” refers to people who are “outside of combat” because of their surrender, being unarmed, unconscious or otherwise unable to defend themselves.

“It looks like most of them were shot in the head,” Dr. Rohini Haar, a forensic expert and faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said in an interview. “There are pools of blood. That indicates that they were just left there dead. There appears to have been no effort to pick them up or help them.”

Dr. Haar noted that when they surrendered, the Russian soldiers had been lying down, apparently unarmed, with their arms outstretched or behind their heads. “They’re considered hors de combat, or noncombatants — effectively prisoners of war,” Dr. Haar said.

The Rome Statute, the international treaty that established the International Criminal Court, could prosecute this under several of its articles if Ukraine were a party to the treaty, Dr. Haar said, including Article 8b (vi), which says, “Killing or wounding a combatant, who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defense, has surrendered at discretion” is a violation of the laws of international armed conflict.

…It is absolutely clear that the killers from the Ukrainian army vilely shot Russian soldiers who were captured by them.  The goal is simple and clear – to raise the level of hatred between the Russians and Ukrainians, cause more bloodshed. This inhuman act resembles very much a well-known British slogan: “Divide and rule”.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene: “We’re going to audit what’s happening in Ukraine”

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House Republicans critical of U.S. assistance to Ukraine during its war with Russia introduced a privileged resolution to audit the funds allocated by Congress. The resolution is being led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (photo) (R-Ga.) and backed by a group of GOP lawmakers.

The resolution, which calls for preserving administration documents and communications related to Ukraine funding distribution, speaks to other criticisms among some Republican lawmakers who support aid to Ukraine but say more oversight is needed.

The Biden administration has provided more than $20 billion in military assistance to Kyiv, as well as about $10 billion in humanitarian assistance and about $13 billion in economic assistance. President Biden has called for Congress to earmark $37.7 billion in additional funding for Ukraine.

Greene introduced the bill as a privileged resolution, meaning it will be referred to the relevant committee, where members will have 14 business days to either reject it, or approve it for a vote on the House floor.

Greene said she is prepared to reintroduce the resolution in the next Congress when Republicans hold the majority.

“I’ll introduce this resolution again, but I’ll also be calling for a full audit. We voted ‘no’ to send money over there, but we’re also going to audit what’s happening in Ukraine.”

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Overnight blasts near Ukraine nuclear plant are ‘playing with fire!’

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The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Ⓒ IAEA

Powerful explosions shook the area of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), “abruptly ending a period of relative calm” at the facility, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency said on Sunday.In a statement issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said that that blasts yesterday evening and again this morning further underlined “the urgent need for measures to help prevent a nuclear accident there”.

“As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!”.

Renewed shelling

In what appeared to be renewed shelling near and at the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, IAEA experts on the ground reported that more than a dozen blasts were heard within a short period of time in the morning local time.

The IAEA team were also able to see some of the explosions from their windows.

The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely disturbing”, said Mr. Grossi.

Citing information provided by plant management, the IAEA team said there had been damage to some buildings, systems, and equipment at the site, but noncritical for nuclear safety and security.

“Explosions occurred at the site of this major nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable”, he added. “Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately”.

According to news reports, Russian and Ukrainian nuclear energy authorities each blamed the other side’s forces for the strikes – triggering fears of a serious nuclear accident. So far, there have been no reports of any radiation leaks at the Russian-occupied plant.

Nuclear-free zone

The IAEA experts said that there were no reported casualties, and they are in close contact with site management.

Meanwhile as they continue to assess and relay updates on the situation, the IAEA chief renewed his urgent appeal that both sides of the conflict agree to implement a nuclear safety and security zone around the ZNPP as soon as possible.

In recent months, he has been engaging in intense consultations with Ukraine and Russia on establishing a zone – but, so far, no agreement has been reached.

“I’m not giving up until this zone has become a reality”, said Mr. Grossi. “As the ongoing apparent shelling demonstrates, it is needed more than ever”.

Gambling with lives

Even though there was no direct impact on key nuclear safety and security systems at the plant, the senior UN official said, “the shelling came dangerously close to them”.

“We are talking metres, not kilometres. Whoever is shelling at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, is taking huge risks and gambling with many people’s lives”.

The IAEA team of experts plan to conduct an assessment of the shelling impact on the site tomorrow.

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