Tag Archives: strategy

Two Important Strategies for the Sustainable Development of the European Union

The European Commission has published in the recent days two communications that touch on important aspects of the sustainable economic development of the EU.

The first is a communication on renewable energy and the progress towards the 2020 targets. The communication presents an overview of the renewable energy industry in Europe, its prospects to 2020 and addresses the outstanding challenges for the development of the sector. The Commission points out that renewable energy constituting 62% of 2009 energy generation investments in the EU. Member States projections show that renewable energy will grow at a faster pace in the years up to 2020 than in the past. Combined Member States expect to more than double their total renewable energy consumption from 103 Mtoe in 2005 to 217 Mtoe in 2020. If all the production forecasts are fulfilled, the overall share of renewable energy in the EU will exceed the 20% target in 2020. The Commission suggests that whilst annual capital investment in renewable energy today averages €35bn, this would need to rapidly double to €70bn to ensure the EU achieves its goals.

The second is a communication on the commodity markets and raw materials. This communication was delayed due to the French request to include measures to improve the transparency of financial and commodity markets. The document makes an overview of developments on physical markets of oil, gas, electricity, agricultural commodities and raw materials. The Commission outlines the growing interdependency of financial and commodity markets and then outlines policy measures for the separate physical markets. The communication then outlines the Raw Materials Initiative and describes the 14 critical raw materials – those who have a particularly high risk of supply shortage and are particularly important for the value chain.

 

 

The 2010 Enlargement Progress Reports in a Nutshell

The European Commission has presented its annual assessment of the European Union’s enlargement agenda. It comprises a 2010-2011 Strategy paper, the Opinions on the membership applications by Montenegro and Albania and seven Progress Reports on the potential candidate countries and on the candidate countries including Croatia. The progress reports and opinions for separate countries are summarized below.

The big news is, of course, Croatia. The Commission thinks that the negotiations are entering their final phase. There are some outstanding benchmarks, in particular in the field of judiciary and fundamental rights. The Commission notes that corruption remains prevalent in many areas. If everything goes normally, Croatia should conclude its negotiations somewhere in 2011, meaning a possible accession in 2013.

The Commission believes that Macedonia is ready to start negotiations once the name issue is resolved. One of the important recommendations is to strengthen administrative capacity for the implementation and enforcement of legislation. The Commission says that further efforts are needed in areas related to the political criteria, in particular as regards independence of the judiciary, fight against corruption, reform of public administration and freedom of expression in the media.

Accession negotiations with Turkey have advanced, albeit rather slowly. The main obstacles remain full implementation of Turkey’s Customs Union obligations with the EU, and making progress towards normalisation of relations with Cyprus. The Commission notes that the package of constitutional amendments approved in a referendum on 12 September created the conditions for progress in a number of areas, such as the judiciary and fundamental rights and public administration.

On Bosnia and Herzegovina, the conclusion is that the lack of a shared vision by political leaders on the direction of the country continues to block key reforms and further progress towards the EU. The role played by ethnic identity in politics has continued to hamper the functioning of the executive, the legislative and the judiciary as well as the country’s overall governance.

The Commission notes that in Serbia additional efforts are required regarding public administration reform and the fight against organised crime and corruption. Despite the active on-going cooperation of Serbia with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the two remaining ICTY fugitives, Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, are still at large. Serbia has further postponed the reforms to tackle structural shortcomings of the economy.

The Commission concluded that Montenegro is ready to become a candidate country to EU membership. Montenegro needs to effectively implement and enforce legislation in all fields. Main concerns are related to the following areas: effectiveness of anti-discrimination policies, freedom of expression and government relations with civil society, as well as the situation of displaced persons from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

The Commission takes note of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which concluded that Kosovo‘s declaration of independence did not violate general international law or Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and the following resolution of the UN General Assembly that aims at opening the way for a process of dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade to promote cooperation, achieve progress on the path to the European Union and improve the lives of the people. However, the Commission notes that the judiciary is not functioning effectively in Kosovo. The rule of law remains a serious concern.

On Iceland, the Commission concluded that the country meets the political criteria for EU membership and, despite being hit hard by the banking crises, it is well prepared to undertake the pending measures needed to meet the requirements for EU membership.

Albania has made good progress during the last 12 months, but further reforms are needed in a number of key areas, before the country can be ready to start accession negotiations. The effectiveness and stability of Albania’s democratic institutions, notably the Parliament, is not sufficiently achieved. Political dialogue is confrontational and does not respect the democratic spirit, not least because of the political stalemate since the June 2009 elections.

 

 

Strategy for the Implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights

The European Commission has adopted its Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the European Union. The main points:

1. Guaranteeing that the EU is beyond reproach in upholding fundamental rights

All proposals for EU legislation must respect the Charter. On the basis of a fundamental rights “check list,” the Commission services will identify which fundamental rights could be affected by a proposal and assess systematically the impact on these rights of each envisaged policy option.

The Commission will launch an inter-institutional dialogue to determine methods for dealing with amendments that raise questions of compatibility with fundamental rights.

The Commission will use all tools available, including infringement proceedings when necessary, to ensure compliance with the Charter in the implementation of EU law.

2. Improving information for citizens

Citizens will have access to information about legal remedies in all Member States through the Commission’s new e-Justice portal in 2011.

The Commission will explain when it can and cannot intervene on fundamental rights complaints where these are outside the scope of EU competence.

3. Monitoring progress

The Commission will publish an Annual Report on the application of the Charter. The report will monitor progress in the areas where the EU has powers to act: showing how the Charter has been taken into account in concrete cases (such as when new legislation is proposed).

Do We Need an EU Disaster Response Force?

UPDATE (16.08.2010): French President Nicolas Sarkozy has officially proposed to the European Commission to “build a real EU reaction force … that draws on the resources of the member states”.

The French junior minister for EU affairs, Pierre Lellouche,  calls for a European disaster response force in the context of Russia’s wildfires.

The question is – do we really need such a common EU force? We already have the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection which should coordinate the disaster response of Member States. But I suppose Mr. Lellouche’s point is that current coordination is not enough. Take for example the EU Strategy for Supporting Disaster Risk Reduction in Developing Countries. It is a very important document, and contains a lot of good ideas on creating a strategic framework to guide EU’s disaster risk reduction support to developing countries. However, the Implementation Plan for the strategy is still not published. The Implementation Plan should clarify the key actions, responsibilities, main instruments and the sequencing of implementation for the strategy priorities, and it was due in 2009. The delay is a clear signal that not all is well in EU cooperation on disaster response, and that probably some Member States are reluctant to step further. So even if a disaster response force is necessary, it may not be possible at the moment.

That being said, the future demand for disaster risk reduction and response services will probably grow. The EU must recognize its own important role in providing such services as an effort affecting not only humanitarian, but security issues as well. Further fragmentation of disaster response efforts will be detrimental to the common foreign and security policy objectives of the European Union.

Review of Sustainable Development Policy

The European Commission has issued its 2009 review of the European Union strategy for sustainable development.

The main priorities outlined in the report are:

– contributing to a rapid shift to a low-carbon and low-input economy, based on energy and resource-efficient technologies and sustainable transport and shifts towards sustainable consumption behaviour;

– intensifying environmental efforts for the protection of biodiversity, water and other natural resources;

– promoting social inclusion;

– strengthening the international dimension of sustainable development and intensifying efforts to combat global poverty.