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EU Logistics In The BRI Maps: Synergy of BRI and TEN-T

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Today, the logistics centers play an important role in the development of various formats of international interaction at the beginning of the new Millennium. At the present stage, their role is particularly high in the context of integration processes at the regional and global levels. The trends of globalization and regionalization led to the formation of the concept of “global region” and the increasing competition of integration associations for sales markets.

The current fight in the transit transport market in the regions of the world is becoming more complicated, as in modern conditions, competition for transit cargo flows is moving from offering more rational routes and cost-effective services to meeting the geopolitical and geo-economic interests of the main participants.

In this regard, initiatives by individual States or mega-partnerships to build new systems and channels of economic interaction between individual countries and subregions are emerging in regions of the world. It should be understood that the implementation of such projects requires the creation of a new architecture of international transport corridors. Thus, in response to the new challenges of developing economic relations between Europe and Asia, EU leaders began to take steps towards the development of logistics routes on the continent.

The Concept of the pan-European corridor was one of the first to appear as part of the concept of pan-European transport infrastructure and was developed for more than 8 years at the so-called Prague (1991), Cretan (1994) and Helsinki (1997) conferences. Its main goal was to increase the EU’s connectivity with its (back then) potential members – the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). After the Helsinki conference, the content of the pan-European transport and infrastructure network was formulated, which consists of : 1. Trans – European transport network in the EU (TEN-T); 2. 10 pan-European corridors in CEE; 3. 4 pan-European transport zones; 4. TRACECA Eurasian routes.

The implementation of the 10 pan-European corridors program (in 1995 – 2005) was closely linked to integration processes in Europe and the desire to develop pan-European cooperation. Nevertheless, the large number of States in Europe and the borders separating them, and differences in the rules governing international transport, significantly slowed down the cross-border movement of goods.

After the EU enlargement in 2005, a Program was developed to expand the main transport routes (5 logistic roads) to neighboring countries and regions, which were considered as an infrastructure framework for pan-European economic cooperation, which was linked to the future prospects of the EU .

Deepening integration processes within the Union and building up mutual economic and social ties have revealed bottlenecks in European logistics in the form of disparate national projects for its development, lagging in the introduction of intermodal transport technologies, and insufficient coordination of the development of individual modes of transport and improving their environmental friendliness. In order to eliminate these bottlenecks, the EU adopted the Trans – European transport network development program (TEN-T), designed up to 2050.

TEN-T consists of two subsystems: a comprehensive one that provides integrated transport development in the EU countries and a high-speed connection of about a hundred European urban agglomerations, all major seaports, airports and border checkpoints, and a basic one in the form of Trans – European highways, where international traffic is concentrated. There are 9 main logistics hubs: North sea – Baltic; Mediterranean ; Rhine – Danube ; Baltic – Adriatic ; North sea – Mediterranean ; middle East ; Atlantic ; Scandinavia – Mediterranean; Rhine – Alps.

The implementation of the program allows ensuring the smooth functioning of the internal market, economic, social and territorial cohesion of the EU, and improving transport accessibility throughout the Union.

Another EU project to strengthen logistics routes along the EU – Asia line was the TRACECA project created in 1993. Over the past ten years, more than 50 technical assistance and investment projects have been implemented under the TRACECA program, in which 14 States participate, and private investment has exceeded $ 1 billion. In particular, over the past five years, $ 25 million has been invested in the development of the ports of Baku and Turkmenbashi, $ 70 million in Amirabad (Iran), and about $ 100 million in Aktau.

As a result, a significant part of the cargo traffic passing through the Caspian region already goes through TRACECA. However, difficulties in the implementation of the project are also present and the deadline for the corridor to reach full capacity has been pushed back to the 2020s. This project provides for the reconstruction of logistics between Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Geopolitical changes on the world map and the strengthening of the PRC as one of the main actors in international relations not only in the region, but also in the world, attracted the attention of European political and business circles to a new project put forward by the PRC in 2013 – Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

According to the Chinese side, the BRI concept should not be considered an integration structure, international or regional organization. This is an initiative of mutually beneficial cooperation and joint development of China and neighboring countries.

The main goal of the project is to redirect the flow of exports of goods and capital to those countries with which China has begun to develop cooperation in the last decade, primarily to countries in Africa and Central Asia and Western Europe. The project’s focus on solving China’s long-term Eurasian problems is clearly visible. After solving numerous political, organizational, financial and other issues, the communication basis of the project should be implemented in the current logistics.

According to the initiators of the project, the New Silk Road should include land and sea components. The land-based silk road, as it was a thousand years ago, will start in Xian (Shaanxi province), then pass through China to Lanzhou (Gansu province), Urumqi district, and cross Central Asia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Then, passing through the Bosphorus Strait, it will go to Moscow (Russia), continue to Rotterdam and end in Venice (Italy), where it will meet the sea component.

The Maritime Silk Road will start in Quanzhou (Fujiian province), pass through the major cities of southern China, Guangzhou (capital of Guangdong), Beihai (Guangxi) and Haikou (Hainan), reach the Strait of Malacca with a stop in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), cross the Indian ocean with calls in Kal-Kutta (India), Colombo (Sri Lanka) and the Maldives, and reach Nairobi in Kenya. Then it will pass through Djibouti, the Red sea and the Suez canal to Athens (Greece) and then to Venice (Italy), where it will connect with the land route.

Control over two Silk Road routes ensures China’s energy security and helps protect its investments in strategically important regions. In addition, the implementation of the project allows to reduce logistics costs. Thus, it is important for China to ensure the security of East, Central and South – East Asia, on which political and economic stability depends the well-being of a number of border regions of the PRC, as well as the stability of its trade.

The emergence of the Belt and Road Initiative has become the embodiment of a competition of development models that challenges the former role of the EU as a global model of regional integration. “Belt and road” partnerships of ASEAN with major international players (USA, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea), as well as the Trans – Pacific partnership are a set of new initiatives, “significantly different from classical integration schemes, which are formulated in the theory of international relations based on the experience of the EU, and “new regionalism” relying on non-state actors and transnational processes that occur “apart from” state” .

China’s ability to respond with interest to new plans for regional cooperation has become an advantage against the background of the EU’s wary attitude to the BRI, which has led to the involvement of the interests of Central Asian and Eastern European countries in the initiative. Thus, as a consequence of the involvement of the Eastern partnership countries in the Chinese investment zone of influence, the EU and China decided to combine their logistics routes.

Analyzing the Sino – European relations, it can be noted that the current relations between the EU and China are characterized by a comprehensive content of the bilateral agenda. In an effort to strengthen a common foreign policy line in relations with China, in 2015 The EU has developed a document“Elements of a new EU strategy towards China”. A new “Connecting Europe & Asia: The EU Strategy” was adopted in 2018, which specified the European policy towards Asian countries as part of the “connectivity” approach, providing a forum for coordinating EU and Chinese infrastructure investment relating to TEN-T and the BRI.

A key objective of the “Connectivity Platform” is to ensure that investment takes place within a framework of fair and undistorted competition based on regulatory convergence, while promoting cooperation in areas such as technology, engineering, construction and the development of standards.

An important initial area of work for the “Connectivity Platform” is the financing of investment on priority transport corridors. The Sino – EU summit 2016 in Riga (Latvia) provided further confirmation of an increasing focus on BRI – related projects and initiatives. At the closure of the summit, participants declared that they would make concerted efforts to develop synergies between the BRI and relevant EU initiatives such as the Trans – European Transport Network, more generally support the development of transport routes between Europe and Asia, and establish multimodal logistics centres throughout the area of the New Eurasian Land Bridge. They also committed to improving the international supply chain and border crossing rules on key transport corridors and the connection from the Port of Bar (Montenegro) to the railway network in Central and Eastern Europe.

Analysing the logistics along TEN-T, it should be mentioned that the EU has ports on the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea (including the Aegean, Adriatic, Tyrrhenian and Balearic Seas), North Atlantic Ocean, North Sea and Baltic Sea, providing a wide range of access points for shipping from outside the EU.

Also should be taking into the consideration the possible approaches to the EU by land and sea and the TEN-T core network corridors. Thus rail services between China and the EU currently operate mainly on the route through Russia, Belarus (where they transfer from the Russian, broad gauge (1,520mm) to the standard UIC gauge (1,435mm) at Brest) and Poland, using the North Sea – Baltic TEN-T Core Network Corridor (CNC) at least as far west as Warsaw. In the course of this research, various rail routes from the Far East to the EU were assessed to determine the most likely ones for carrying rail freight in the future. To that end, the attractiveness of the time of the shipment was considered. Based on the above assumption, it was found that, with shipping times to the North Sea up to one week longer than to the Mediterranean Sea, rail would be most attractive for transport to Europe north of the Alps, including to EU Member States bordering the North Sea and Baltic Sea.

Containers carried by rail, therefore, would primarily be those previously shipped to North Sea ports, and would travel along the route from Moscow (Russia) through Brest (Belarus) and Warsaw (Poland) to Berlin (Germany). Containers carried by sea would first pass or call at ports in Southeast Europe, such as Athens/Piraeus in Greece, where they could in principle be transferred to rail for travel further north. However, most freight of sufficiently high value to justify the additional costs of rail across the Balkans would already have switched to overland rail travel across Asia. It would therefore be more cost-effective for the remaining containers at Athens/Piraeus to continue by sea to ports in the north Adriatic Sea, such as Venice and Trieste in Italy, Koper in Slovenia and Rijeka in Croatia.

Assuming that sufficient end – to – end capacity is available between China and the EU, the focus of future rail freight flows, including those attributed to the BRI, is likely to be the North Sea – Baltic TEN-T CNC from Brest to Warsaw(Poland).

Some freight trains through or around Warsaw (Poland) currently continue to Berlin and Duisburg in Germany, but, by 2040, services may diverge to a range of destinations: south via Katowice in Poland to Hungary and Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and onwards to southern Germany, Switzerland and France; southwest via Łódź and Wrocław in Poland to Germany; west, as at present, via Poznań (Poland) to Germany, and onwards to the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and via Hamburg to Denmark and Sweden; and northeast along Rail Baltica to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonian and Finland.

The routes to the west and to the northeast form part of the North Sea – Baltic Core Network Corridor of the TEN-T, which extends from Warsaw west to Berlin, Amsterdam and Rotterdam and north to Tallinn and Helsinki. The North Sea – Baltic Core Network Corridor Study includes estimates of rail freight tonnage crossing the border between Belarus and Poland in 2025. While it is difficult to compare estimates of tonnages and TEUs, the estimates in the Corridor Study appear to be small compared with the potential volume of BRI – related traffic by 2040.

Despite wide range of synegration of TEN-T and BRI, the analysis showed, that the geographical and project scope of the BRI are not clearly defined and that they continue to evolve.

The analysis of potential future traffic flows in this study suggests that the first study should focus on the New Eurasian Land Bridge Corridor connecting with the North Sea – Baltic Core Network Corridor of the TEN-T. This would require dialogue with other organisations already engaged in the development of rail transport routes in Eurasia, in particular CAREC. It would also require engagement with organisations such as UNIFE, representing manufacturers of rail equipment, with an interest in the promotion and application of EU standards beyond its borders.

The analysis of BRI – related traffic flows in the EU suggested that the BRI could generate additional rail freight of approximately 3 million TEU (equivalent to 50 – 60 trains per day or 2 – 3 trains per hour each way) between the Far East and the EU by 2040. Subsequently, it was concluded that the most likely TEN-T corridor to be required to accommodate this traffic would be the North Sea – Baltic Core Network Corridor.

It is not expected that the BRI changes patterns of shipping traffic materially other than to reduce slightly the volume of freight entering the EU via the North Sea Ports. Any effect might be offset by a growth in the shipment of BRI – generated freight across the North Sea to the UK. Nevertheless, it should be noted that maritime trade between China and the EU is already well-established, and that it is not possible to forecast possible changes in related trade patterns as a result of the BRI.

Given these results, and taking account of the uncertainties surrounding the definition and evolution of the BRI, recommendations to address particular constraints or bottlenecks on TEN-T beyond those already highlighted by the corridor studies would be premature. In the absence of greater clarity on the scope and priorities of the BRI, there is a risk that the development of specific investment projects designed to accommodate more traffic on the North Sea – Baltic Core Network Corridor, for example, would prove either inadequate or redundant.

It is also worth noting the issue of stabilization of subsidies for infrastructure and logistics projects of the PRC through the EU – Asia line.

At the same time, the TEN-T Corridor Studies should be reviewed and developed periodically as the work of the “Connectivity Platform” progresses and the BRI is defined more clearly. This would require TEN-T policy to become more outward-looking, with an explicit requirement to take account of major policy initiatives sponsored by countries outside the EU. It could also be facilitated by the development of periodic forecasts of BRI – related traffic, following the model of the European Commission’s Reference Scenario, with forecasts developed under the framework of the “Connectivity Platform” and jointly approved by participating countries.

Despite the presence of problem areas in the development of logistics ties between the EU and China, partners (especially the EU) note that the development of the logistics is greatly influenced by the geopolitical considerations of countries, in particular the desire to strengthen their foreign policy influence through modern infrastructure, reduce the geopolitical risks of entering major markets, and diversify options for communication with world markets. In other words, the dynamics of the developing of the EU – China logistics is a reflection of technological progress in transportation, the progress of globalization and regionalization of the world economy, geopolitical and geo-economic interests of participating countries in the development of international communications.

It should be understood that one of the key advantages of continental cooperation in the Eurasian space is the possibility of developing transport potential and related infrastructure. Work in this direction will lead to a number of positive effects, the main of which are the use of the transit potential of countries, localization of industry along the Trans – Eurasian transport corridors, export development and increased connectivity of inland States and regions.

Constructive interaction between the EU and China on the development of logistics routes in Eurasia shows that participation in the Eurasian cooperation can help the participants of the initiative “consolidate the strategic rear”, provide a basis for the rise of countries and influence the restructuring of the world structure, become a useful platform for global governance and international policy building.

PhD in International Politics, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, the P.R.of China Research Associate , Ukrainian Association of Sinologists

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Carbon Market Could Drive Climate Action

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Authors: Martin Raiser, Sebastian Eckardt, Giovanni Ruta*

Trading commenced on China’s national emissions trading system (ETS) on Friday. With a trading volume of about 4 billion tons of carbon dioxide or roughly 12 percent of the total global CO2 emissions, the ETS is now the world’s largest carbon market.

While the traded emission volume is large, the first trading day opened, as expected, with a relatively modest price of 48 yuan ($7.4) per ton of CO2. Though this is higher than the global average, which is about $2 per ton, it is much lower than carbon prices in the European Union market where the cost per ton of CO2 recently exceeded $50.

Large volume but low price

The ETS has the potential to play an important role in achieving, and accelerating China’s long-term climate goals — of peaking emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060. Under the plan, about 2,200 of China’s largest coal and gas-fired power plants have been allocated free emission rights based on their historical emissions, power output and carbon intensity.

Facilities that cut emissions quickly will be able to sell excess allowances for a profit, while those that exceed their initial allowance will have to pay to purchase additional emission rights or pay a fine. Putting a price tag on CO2 emissions will promote investment in low-carbon technologies and equipment, while carbon trading will ensure emissions are first cut where it is least costly, minimizing abatement costs. This sounds plain and simple, but it will take time for the market to develop and meaningfully contribute to emission reductions.
The initial phase of market development is focused on building credible emissions disclosure and verification systems — the basic infrastructure of any functioning carbon market — encouraging facilities to accurately monitor and report their emissions rather than constraining them. Consequently, allocations given to power companies have been relatively generous, and are tied to power output rather than being set at absolute levels.

Also, the requirements of each individual facility to obtain additional emission rights are capped at 20 percent above the initial allowance and fines for non-compliance are relatively low. This means carbon prices initially are likely to remain relatively low, mitigating the immediate financial impact on power producers and giving them time to adjust.

For carbon trading to develop into a significant policy tool, total emissions and individual allowances will need to tighten over time. Estimates by Tsinghua University suggest that carbon prices will need to be raised to $300-$350 per ton by 2060 to achieve carbon neutrality. And our research at the World Bank suggest a broadly applied carbon price of $50 could help reduce China’s CO2 emissions by almost 25 percent compared with business as usual over the coming decade, while also significantly contributing to reduced air pollution.

Communicating a predictable path for annual emission cap reductions will allow power producers to factor future carbon price increases into their investment decisions today. In addition, experience from the longest-established EU market shows that there are benefits to smoothing out cyclical fluctuations in demand.

For example, carbon emissions naturally decline during periods of lower economic activity. In order to prevent this from affecting carbon prices, the EU introduced a stability reserve mechanism in 2019 to reduce the surplus of allowances and stabilize prices in the market.

Besides, to facilitate the energy transition away from coal, allowances would eventually need to be set at an absolute, mass-based level, which is applied uniformly to all types of power plants — as is done in the EU and other carbon markets.

The current carbon-intensity based allocation mechanism encourages improving efficiency in existing coal power plants and is intended to safeguard reliable energy supply, but it creates few incentives for power producers to divest away from coal.

The effectiveness of the ETS in creating appropriate price incentives would be further enhanced if combined with deeper structural reforms in power markets to allow competitive renewable energy to gain market share.

As the market develops, carbon pricing should become an economy-wide instrument. The power sector accounts for about 30 percent of carbon emissions, but to meet China’s climate goals, mitigation actions are needed in all sectors of the economy. Indeed, the authorities plan to expand the ETS to petro-chemicals, steel and other heavy industries over time.

In other carbon intensive sectors, such as transport, agriculture and construction, emissions trading will be technically challenging because monitoring and verification of emissions is difficult. Faced with similar challenges, several EU member states have introduced complementary carbon taxes applied to sectors not covered by an ETS. Such carbon excise taxes are a relatively simple and efficient instrument, charged in proportion to the carbon content of fuel and a set carbon price.

Finally, while free allowances are still given to some sectors in the EU and other more mature national carbon markets, the majority of initial annual emission rights are auctioned off. This not only ensures consistent market-based price signals, but generates public revenue that can be recycled back into the economy to subsidize abatement costs, offset negative social impacts or rebalance the tax mix by cutting taxes on labor, general consumption or profits.

So far, China’s carbon reduction efforts have relied largely on regulations and administrative targets. Friday’s launch of the national ETS has laid the foundation for a more market-based policy approach. If deployed effectively, China’s carbon market will create powerful incentives to stimulate investment and innovation, accelerate the retirement of less-efficient coal-fired plants, drive down the cost of emission reduction, while generating resources to finance the transition to a low-carbon economy.

(Martin Raiser is the World Bank country director for China, Sebastian Eckardt is the World Bank’s lead economist for China, and Giovanni Ruta is a lead environmental economist of the World Bank.)

(first published on China Daily via World Bank)

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The EU wants to cut emissions, Bulgaria and Eastern Europe will bear the price

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In the last few years, the European Union has been going above and beyond in dealing with climate change. Clearly, this is far from being a case of disinterested endeavour to safeguard the planet and the environment. On the contrary, the EU’s efforts aim at reinforcing its “normative power”.  In effect, the EU has gained some clout on the international stage, even vis-à-vis faraway countries like Vietnam and China. Yet, in doing so the Union embroiled in the apparent rush for more and more ambitious climate standards and targets. Therefore, Brussels needs to start acting and deliver on its promises to keep staying ahead of the pack. Even more so given US President Biden’s strengthened engagement with friends and foes alike on the climate and human rights.

Last week, the European Commission manifested its acknowledgment of this need by unveiling the Fit for 55 (FF55) growth strategy. Overall, this new, beefed-up Green Deal should reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 55% of their 1990 level by 2030. In some analysts’ view, the FF55 plan is a game changer in the long-term race towards climate neutrality alas. In fact, it could “both deepen and broaden the decarbonisation of Europe’s economy to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.” Moreover, they expect the FF55’s 13 measures to generate a number of positive ripple effects across EU economies.

True, wanting to reduce greenhouse gases significantly by 2030 and reaching net-zero-emission by 2050 goal is commendable under many regards. Still, the FF55 includes a number of measures that could impact ordinary people’s life massively across Europe. Nevertheless, the 27 Member States of the EU are responsible for as little as 8% of global emissions. As such, it is necessary to take a deeper look at how the FF55 will affect different countries and demographics.

The transition’s social cost

The realisation that reduction of capitalism’s dependence on fossil fuels will have serious socio-economic consequences is not at all new. Contrariwise, scholars and politicians have been outspoken about an indisputable “conflict between jobs and the environment”, since the early 1990s. Together, the pandemic-induced recession and the signing of the Paris Accord have brought the notion back on the centre stage.

Factually, pushing the energy transition entails facing mass lay-offs, generalised workforce retraining and taxes hikes on ordinary consumers. For instance, these hardships’ seriousness is evident in the progressive abandonment of coal mining for energy generation in the US. Moreover, the energy transition requires strong popular backing in order to be effective. Yet, measures pursued to achieve environmentally friendly growth tend to generate strong, grassroot opposition. Most recently, France’s gilets jaunes protests shows that environmental policies generate social discontent by disfavouring middle and lower classes disproportionately.

The poorest families and countries will bear the costs

One of the FF55’s main policy innovation regards the creation of a carbon trading market for previously exempt sectors. Namely, companies working int the transport and buildings sectors, be they public or private, will have to follow new rules. As it happened in the energy industry before, each company will have to respect a “carbon allowance”. Basically, it is an ‘authorisation to pollute’ which companies can buy from each other — but the total cannot increase. Despite all claims of just transition, this and other measures will have a gigantic, re-distributional effect within and between countries. And it will be of markedly regressive character, meaning that poorer families and countries will pay more.

Taxing transport emission is regressive

Historically, these sectors were trailing behind most others when it comes to decarbonisation for a variety of reasons. First of all, the previous emission trading system did not include them. Moreover, these are far from being well-functioning markets. As a result, even if the cost of emissions was to rise, enterprises and consumer will not react as expected.

Thus, even as they face higher costs, companies will keep utilising older, traditional vehicle and construction technologies. With taunting reverberations on those poorer consumers, who cannot afford to buy an electric car or stop using public transport. Hence, they “will face a higher carbon price while locked into fossil-fuel-based systems with limited alternatives.” Moreover, the EU could worsen these effects by trying to reduce the emission fees on truck-transported goods. Indeed, the commission is proposing a weight-based emission standard that would collaterally favour SUVs over smaller combustion-engine car and motorbikes. 

In a nutshell, higher taxes and fee will strike lower-class consumers, who spend more of their incomes for transportation. Even assuming these households would like to switch to low-emission cars and buildings, current market prices will make it impossible. In fact, all these technologies ten to have low usage costs, but very high costs of acquisition. For instance, the cheapest Tesla sells at over €95,000, whereas a Dacia Sandero “starts at just under €7,000.”

Eastern Europe may not be willing to pay

At this point, it is clear that the FF55 plan will deal a blow to ongoing efforts to reduce inequalities. In addition, one should not forget that EU Member States are as different amongst them as they are within themselves. Yet, the EU is not simply going to tax carbon in sectors that inevitably expose poorer consumers the most. But in doing so it would impose a single price on 27 very diverse societies and economies. Thus, the paradox of having the poorest countries in the EU (i.e., Central- and South-Eastern Europe) pay the FF55’s bill.

To substantiate this claim, one needs to look no further than at a few publicly available data. First, as Figure 2 shows, there is an inverse relation between a country’s wealth and consumers’ expenditures on transport services. Thus, not only do poorer people across the EU spend more on transport, poorer countries do as well. Hence, under the FF55, Bulgarians, Croatians, Romanians and Poles will pay most of the fees and taxes on carbon emission.

Additionally, one should consider that there is also a strict inverse relation between carbon emissions and the minimum national wage. In fact, looking at Figure 3 one sees that countries with lower minimum wages tend to emit more carbon dioxide. On average, countries with a minimum salary of €1 lower emit almost 4.5mln tonnes of carbon dioxide more. But differences in statutory national wages explain almost 32% of the cross-country variation in emissions. So, 1.5 of those extra tonnes are somehow related to lower minimum salaries and, therefore, lower living standards.

The EU’s quest for a just transition: Redistribution or trickle down?

Hence, the pursual of a ‘just’ transitionhas come to mean ensuring quality jobs emerge from these economic changes. However, many of the FF55’s 13 initiatives may worsen disparities both within countries and, more importantly, between them. Thus, the EU has been trying to pre-empt the social losses that would inevitably come about.

From the Just Transition Fund to the Climate Social Fund

In this regard, the European Union went a step forward most countries by creating the Just Transition Fund in May. That is, the EU decided to finance a mix of grants and public-sector loans which aims to provide support to territories facing serious socio-economic challenges arising from the transition towards climate neutrality [… and] facilitate the implementation of the European Green Deal, which aims to make the EU climate-neutral by 2050.

Along these lines, the FF55 introduces a Climate Social Fund (CSF) that will provide “funding […] to support vulnerable European citizens.” The fund will provide over €70bln to support energy investments, and provide direct income support for vulnerable households. The revenues from the selling of carbon allowances to the transport and building sectors should fund most of the CSF. If necessary, the Member States will provide the missing portion.

The EU Commission may give the impression of having design the CSF to favour poorer households and countries. However, it may actually be a false impression. In fact, it is clear that the entire carbon pricing initiative will impact poorer household and countries more strongly. However, only a fourth of the carbon pricing system’s revenues will go to fund the CSF. The remaining portion will finance other FF55 programmes, most of which have a negative impact on poorer communities. Thus, despite the CSF, the final effect of the entire FF55 will be a net redistribution upwards.

Stopping a redistribution to the top

Nevertheless, there is a way to fix the FF55 so that it can work for poorer households and lower-income countries. Given that the CSF is too small for the challenge it should overcome, its total amount should be increased. In fact, the purpose of higher carbon pricing is in any event not to raise revenue but to direct market behaviour towards low-carbon technologies—there is thus a strong argument for redistributing fully the additional revenues

Hence, the largest, politically sustainable share of carbon-pricing revenues from transportation and housing should ideally go to the CSF. In addition, the Commission should remove all the proposed provision that divert CSF money away from social compensation scheme. In fact, poorer families will not gain enough from subsidies to electric car, charging stations and the decarbonisation of housing. One contrary, “using the fund to support electric vehicles would disproportionally favour rich households.”

Finally, the allocation of CSF money to various member states should follow rather different criteria from the current ones. In fact, the Commission already intends to consider a number of important such as: total population and its non-urban share; per capita, gross, national income; share of vulnerable households; and emissions due to fuel combustion per household. But these efforts to look out for the weakest strata in each country could backfire. In fact, according to some calculations, a Member State with lower average wealth and lower “within-country inequality could end up benefiting less than a rich member state with high inequality.”

Conclusion

A number of well-known, respected economist have been arguing that environmental policies should account for social fallouts attentively. Goals such as emission reduction and net-zero economies require strong popular support in order for the transformation to succeed. Or at least, the acquiescence of a majority of the public. Otherwise, the plans of well-intentioned and opportunistic governments alike will derail. After all, this is the main lesson of the currently widespread protest against the mandating of ‘Covid passes’ and vaccines.

If the FF55 will deal poorer households a devastating blow, social unrest may worsen — fast. But as long as it will also hurt Eastern European countries as a whole, there is a chance. Hopefully, European parliamentarians from riotous Hungary or Poland will oppose the FF55 in its current shape. Perhaps, in a few years everyone will be thankful for these two countries strenuous resistance to EU bureaucracy. Or else, richer countries may force Central- and South-Eastern Europe to swallow a bitter medicine. Even though, whatever happens, Europe alone cannot and will not save the planet.

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Entrepreneurialism & Digitalization: Recovery of Midsize Business Economies

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Observe nations around the world, especially those with the largest numbers of IT professionals, rich and well-groomed government departments and their related agencies, with matured bureaucracies and unlimited numbers of computers but still no signs of thriving digital economies buzzing on global platforms. What is so mysterious about digitization of small medium businesses, smoothly leading to ‘virtualization of economies’ creating global bounce of trade? Well, it is surrendering to the realization that entrepreneurialism is the main driving engine of such challenges and not the herds of IT teams, deluxe bureaucracies and accountancy-mindsets.

What is a digital economy? It is definitely not when all businesses have websites and are all doing social media postings, at the outset understanding  digitalization of a single enterprise is already a fine art, and to make it fly on global trade platforms is a science. Unless economic development teams can articulate, what is and how ‘virtualization of economies’ work, uplift and upskill vertical trade sectors and create an entrepreneurial bounce of trades’, the entire exercise of digitization might as well leave to early video game players or early grader IT personnel. Observe how The Silicon Valley and e-Commerce revolutions of the world never created by large IT teams, but categorically by “techie-entrepreneurs” of the day that in turn occupied millions of IT professionals and created hundreds of millions IT experts driving e-commerce of today. Of course, IT teams needed but in very reverse order.

Why is the digital economy an entrepreneurial economy?  Digitization of the economy is simply not an IT exercise rather a strategic entrepreneurial maneuver of placing a midsize business economy on wheels using easily available digital platforms with abundance of software to choose from to make right entrepreneurial-based decisions to create creative bounce. The survival strategies for the post pandemic economies have less to do with accountancy-mindsets and bureaucratic attitudes, as it is all about entrepreneurial global age execution with superior digital performances.

Calling Entrepreneurial Business Mindsets:  The new horizons beyond pandemic call for “simultaneous synchronization” a need to merge ‘mental-blocks’ the lingering ‘productivity-silos’ ‘digital-divides’ ‘mental-divides’ all such negative forces balanced with positive forces of ‘innovative excellence’ and ‘superior-performance’ thrown all in an entrepreneurial-blender to make a great progressive multi-flavored shakes. To mix and match with our realty checks of today and the blended calamites; Economy + SME + MFG + AI + VR + AR + Officeless + Remote + Occupationalism + Globalization + Exports + Upskilling, all in one single sandbox need progressive advancements with entrepreneurial guts and clarity of vision for any serious stable economic balance. If such were a monopoly game, printing of currency would be the norm.  

National Mobilization of Entrepreneurialism: Needed are deep studies of the prolonged trajectory of entrepreneurial intellectualism spanning a millennia… the word ‘entrepreneurialism’ was only invented over a century ago… but our civilization was built on similar principles, driven and strong people. Declare an economic revolution as a critical cure to desolate periods and call the nation but will they listen? With credibility of institution and political promises tanked, audible to the populace now is the grind of mobilizations, thundering deployments of action packed strategies, but how do you fund them? National mobilization of entrepreneurialism is the hidden pulse of the nation, often not new funding dependent rather execution hungry and leadership starved, so what makes it spin? Entrepreneurial warriors

As if a silent revolution mobilized, the nouveau entrepreneurialism in post pandemic economy in action, where talents on wings of digitalization, flying on trading platforms, visible in smart data and shining amongst upskilled midsize economies. Lack of upskilling, lack of global-age expertise, and most importantly lack of entrepreneurialism is what keeps digitization of economies lost in the past. How naïve is it to believe post-pandemic economic issues some PR singsong election campaigns? Only deployment, execution, mobilization will be the message now acceptable by the billions displaced, replaced and misplaced workers, but what is stopping nations, their Ministries and trade groups to have all out discussions and table immediate action plans? Ouch, do not forget the entrepreneurial blood in the economic streams, exciting the bureaucracies and accountancy-mindsets.  The next 100 elections over the coming 500 days will be full of surprises, but serious transformation for survival is inevitable, with or without upskilled ministries of commerce. Which nations and regions are ready to engage in this tactical battlefield of global-age skills?  Study how Expothon Africa is in deployments with selected countries.

The deciding factors: Never ever before in the history of humankind,the economic behaviorism across the world suddenly surrendered to a single calamity, affecting the majority of the global populace suffering in prolonged continuity. The side effect of such complexity juxtaposed with technological access can bring sweeping changes to our assumed complacency. All traditional problem solving and conventional thinking styles now considered too dangerous to economic growth and social balances.  

Recommendation and Survival Strategies: Discover and establish authoritative command on digitization and virtualization of economies, study more on Google.Allow micro-small-medium enterprises a tax-free window on the first USD$5-10 million revenues in exports, this will create local jobs and bring foreign exchange. Allow micro-small-medium enterprises free access to all dormant Intellectual Property, Patents rolled up due to lack of commercialization. Allow Academic Experts on innovative technologies and related skills on free voucher programs to the SME base to uplift ideas and special expertise. Optimization of telecommunication and internet structures worth trillions of dollars with global access at times completely ignored and wasted by wrong mindsets deprived of entrepreneurial undertakings. Allow micro-small-medium enterprises free full time MBA as 12 months interns so MBA graduates can acquire some entrepreneurialism while enterprises can uplift their ideas in practice.

“Allow Million qualified foreign entrepreneurs to park within your nation for 5-10 years under a special full tax-free visa and stay program. Which nations have qualified dialogue on such affairs? Bring in, land million entrepreneurs in your nation, and create 10 million plus jobs and new wealth in following years. Let your own institutions and frontline management learn how such economic developments created.  Be bold, as the time to strategize passed now time to revolutionize has arrived”. “Excerpted from keynote lecture by Naseem Javed, Global Citizen Forum, Dubai, 2013.”

Allow National Mobilization of Entrepreneurialism Protocols mandated to engage trade and exports bodies. Allow National Scoring of entrepreneurialism to measure, identify and differentiate required talents. Digitize from top to bottom and sideways, futurism fully digitized and without real transformation, it is like a nation without any internet. Act wisely. Digitalization of economies without entrepreneurial minds is more like pre-pandemic archives of mostly failures. Needed are the economic revolutions, based on entrepreneurial meritocracy and national mobilization of midsize economy.
The rest is easy 

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