The European Court of Auditors has issued a report on the use of impact assessments prepared by the Commission for the decision-making process of the EU institutions. The main conclusion is that impact assessments have become an integral element of the Commission’s policy development and have been used by the Commission to design its initiatives better. The Commission’s impact assessments are systematically transmitted to the European Parliament and the Council to support legislative decision-making and users in both institutions find them helpful when considering the Commission’s proposals. However, the Commission’s impact assessments were not updated as the legislative procedure progressed and the European Parliament and Council rarely performed impact assessments on their own amendments. This is a very important observation since Commission proposals sometimes go through significant transformation in the legislative process.
The European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is the flagship initiative for curbing carbon emissions in the European Union. A new report says that the ETS is in danger not only of failing the objective for which it was set up – to secure reductions in emissions, but that it could become an environmental hindrance.
The environmental campaigning organization, Sandbag, claims that Phase II of the ETS will result in only 0,3% of reduced carbon emissions. The report blames the poor results on the free awarding of a billion surplus permits to industry and to combustion plant involved in manufacturing. According to the report the largest share of the industrial surpluses accrued to the cement and steel industries, the two sectors which have lobbied most aggressively to weaken the ambition of the scheme and to be afforded special protections from carbon prices which might harm their competitiveness. The report claims that there were distortions of competition on sectoral level: Heidelberg Cement has had a fivefold allocation advantage over its European competitors in the cement industry, while Salzgitter has had fourfold advantage against its European steel competitors. The most important recommendation of the report is to adjust Phase III caps to reflect historic emissions and to avoid contaminating the next phase with the over-allocation of the current one.
Posted in Competition, Energy, Enterprise, Environment, Internal Market
Tagged Emissions Trading Scheme, EU ETS, Heidelberg Cement, Phase II, Phase III, reduction, report, Salzgitter, surplus allowances
Statewatch has published a restricted access report by EUROPOL, EUROJUST and FRONTEX on the state of internal security in the European Union. A selection of the findings (I have underlined some sections):
- The affluent consumer base and open business environment of the EU makes the region particularly vulnerable;
- Organised crime is growing in scale and sophistication;
- The number of terrorist attacks in the EU is declining but both violent separatist groups and Islamist extremists remain active and pose a clear threat to internal security;
- Most threats to internal security are generated outside the EU. Africa, South Asia, the Former Soviet Union, and the Western Balkans carry particular significance;
- Key hubs in and around the external border of the EU have developed as the principal staging posts for the inward flow of illicit goods and people;
- Border security is compromised by groups exploiting vulnerabilities in the transport sector;
- The threat from cyber crime is multi-dimensional, targeting citizens, businesses, and governments at a rapidly growing rate;
- European citizens and businesses are increasingly exposed to systematic violence and corruption at the hands of organised crime groups, terrorist groups, and, increasingly, street gangs.
Posted in Foreign and Security Policy, Institutional Affairs, Internal Market, Justice and Internal Affairs
Tagged border security, Corruption, EUROJUST, European Union, EUROPOL, Frontex, internal security, organized crime, report, street gangs, threats
The European Commission has published its progress reports for Bulgaria and Romania under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). The reports monitor the progress of the two Member states on progress with judicial reform, the fight against corruption and, concerning Bulgaria, the fight against organized crime.
Both reports say that further assistance and monitoring by the Commission is needed to support the reform processes in Bulgaria and Romania until all benchmarks are fulfilled and the CVM can be repealed. In other words the monitoring will continue for an undetermined period of time.
The reports for both countries are quite critical. For Bulgaria the report seems to underscore the fact that noisy police actions do not necessarily transform into successful convictions. For Romania the main criticism is directed against the new amendments of the law on the National Integrity Agency.
The report on Bulgaria notes a strong reform momentum which has been established in Bulgaria since the Commission’s last annual report in July 2009. The Commission believes that there is strong political will in the Bulgarian government to achieve a deep and lasting reform of the judiciary. According to the report Bulgaria has adopted important reforms of its penal procedures. Bulgaria has increased its efforts to fight against high-level corruption. Bulgaria has also stepped up efforts by carrying out a number of police raids on organised crime groups although little judicial follow-up to these raids has been reported. However, the report notes that the judicial process in Bulgaria lacks initiative and professional capacity. Complex investigations show a lack of direction and purpose, procedures are too formal and too long and often fail in court. The implementation of the conflict of interest law is insufficiently effective. Shortcomings in the implementation of public procurement procedures are widespread.
The Commission points to important shortcomings in Romania’s efforts to achieve progress under the CVM. Romania did not show sufficient political commitment to support and provide direction to the reform process and demonstrated a degree of unwillingness within the leadership of the judiciary to cooperate and take responsibility. Judicial reform has shown important progress with Parliamentary adoption of the Civil and Criminal Procedural Codes. The National Integrity Agency (ANI) was able to demonstrate a further consolidation of its capacity and track record regarding the identification of unjustified wealth, incompatibilities and conflicts of interest. However, the amendments to the law on the National Integrity Agency voted on 30 June 2010 represent a serious step back.
Posted in Bulgaria, Enlargement, Institutional Affairs, Justice and Internal Affairs
Tagged benchmarks, Bulgaria, Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, Corruption, judiciary, organized crime, reforms, report, Romania
The Report on progress in creating the internal gas and electricity market says that the correct transposition of the European electricity and gas legislation in all Member States is still not complete.
The key violations identified lack of transparency, insufficient coordination efforts by transmission system operators to make maximum interconnection capacity available, absence of regional cooperation, lack of enforcement action by the competent authorities in Member States and the lack of adequate dispute settlement procedure.
Freedom House has released its 2010 edition of Freedom in the World, the annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties. The report says that freedom in the world has declined for the fourth consecutive year. The report says that during the last years the dominant pattern has been one of growing restrictions on the fundamental freedoms of expression and association in authoritarian settings, and previously improving countries due to unchecked corruption and weaknesses in the rule of law.
Sub-Saharan Africa has suffered the largest setbacks. On the Balkans Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro experienced gains for freedom during the year. Russia suffered further deterioration with a range of setbacks for political rights and civil liberties.
You can also have a look at the global map of freedom.
The European Court of Auditors has issued an overall positive report on the EU budget implementation for 2008. The error rate in the “Agriculture and natural resources” sector is substantially lower.
For Bulgaria the main concerns remain the management and control of funds in agriculture – both under pre-accession funding and from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) after the accession.