News

European Parliament backs CO2 emissions cuts for trucks | EU Parliament Press

  • 20% of new heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) to be zero- or low-emissions by 2030 
  • Manufacturers to cut their new fleets´ CO2 emissions by 35% 

Today, the European Parliament has backed plans for lorries to cut CO2 emissions by 2030.

MEPs adopted a higher target (35%) than the European Commission (30%) for new lorries to reduce the EU´s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, with an intermediate target of 20% by 2025.

Manufacturers will also have to ensure that zero- and low-emission vehicles (which emit at least 50% fewer emissions) represent a 20% market share of the sales of new ones by 2030, and 5% by 2025.

Before 2020, the European Commission should come up with plans for a real-world CO2 emissions test for on-road emissions.

Social impact of decarbonisation

MEPs acknowledge that a socially acceptable and balanced transition to zero-emission mobility requires changes throughout the automotive value chain, with a possible negative social impact. The EU should therefore assist workers in the sector learning new skills and reallocating, particularly in regions and communities most affected by the transition.

Lifecycle emissions

In its 2022 report, the European Commission should consider assessing CO2 emissions produced by heavy-duty vehicles during their full life-cycle, and propose, if necessary, reporting obligations for manufacturers.

Quote

Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, NL) rapporteur, said: “We are regulating the CO2 emissions of heavy-duty vehicles for the first time in European history. The sector is growing fast and so are its emissions. We agreed to raise the ambition compared to what the Commission is proposing, which is possible with the existing technologies. We also need to prepare for new ones, and this is why we are proposing this zero- and low-emission mandate, to push the market into new technologies”.

Next steps

Parliament adopted its position with 373 votes to 285 and 16 abstentions. MEPs will now enter into negotiations with the Council of Ministers.

Background

Heavy-duty vehicles are responsible for around a quarter of CO2 emissions from road transport in the EU. Without further action, their emissions are expected to grow due to increasing road transport volumes.

Heavy-duty vehicles are responsible for 27 % of road transport CO2 emissions and almost 5 % of EU greenhouse gas emissions (2016 data). Since 1990, heavy-duty vehicle emissions have increased by 25 % – mainly as a result of an increase in road freight traffic – and, in the absence of new policies, they are projected to increase further.

Long-term EU budget: MEPs lay down funding priorities for post-2020 budget | EU ParliamentPress

  • MEPs push for more funding for youth, research, growth & jobs and tackling climate change 
  • Adequate resources needed to finance new challenges like migration, defence, security 
  • Funding for long-standing farming and cohesion policies should not be reduced 
  • New sources of direct revenue should partly replace taxpayer-funded contributions 

In a vote on Wednesday, MEPs confirmed their position on the next EU long-term budget, including a precise breakdown of the amounts for each EU programme.

Parliament underlines its “unity and readiness” for the upcoming multiannual financial framework (MFF 2021-2027) negotiations with EU Ministers and regrets that member states have made “no significant progress” on finding a common position.

MEPs consider that the MFF proposal tabled by the European Commission is a starting point, but its proposed level “will not allow the EU to deliver on its political commitments and respond to the important challenges ahead”. They have thus confirmed the following priorities (list not exhaustive):

  • Set the budget for the Horizon Europe research programme at €120 billion in 2018 prices (Commission: €83.5 billion);
  • Boost the European strategic investment plan (“Juncker Plan”);
  • Increase funding for transport infrastructure and SMEs;
  • Maintain the financing of the long-standing cohesion and agricultural policies;
  • Double the resources for tackling youth unemployment, triple the resources for Erasmus+;
  • Set the EU’s contribution to the climate objectives target at a minimum of 25% of MFF expenditure and 30% as soon as possible, at the latest by 2027.

A new and simpler system of revenues

As to reforming the EU’s sources of revenue (“own resources”), MEPs stress that the current system is “highly complex, unfair and non-transparent and totally incomprehensible to the EU’s citizens”.

A new, simpler system should substantially reduce the gross national income-based direct contributions from member states and guarantee an adequate financing of EU spending under the new MFF. Parliament also approves the abolition of all rebates and other correction mechanisms.

MEPs demand the introduction of new own resources, such as one based on a new corporate tax scheme (including taxation of large companies in the digital sector), on revenues from the Emissions Trading System and on a plastic tax.

They stress that revenue and expenditure should be treated as a single package; thus all elements of the MFF/Own Resources package, and notably the MFF figures, should remain on the negotiating table until a final agreement is reached.

The interim report on the 2021-2027 MFF– Parliament’s position with a view to an agreement – by co-rapporteurs Jan Olbrycht (EPP, PL), Isabelle Thomas (S&D, FR), Gérard Deprez (ALDE, BE) and Janusz Lewandowski (EPP, PL) has been adopted with 429 votes in favour, 207 against and 40 abstentions.

Next steps

Since the resolution on the MFF adopted in March 2018, Parliament is ready to negotiate, and talks can begin as soon as Council has agreed on a common position. The adoption of a new MFF Regulation requires Parliament’s consent.

MEPs expect “that a good agreement is reached before the 2019 European Parliament elections, in order to avoid the serious setbacks for the launch of the new programmes due to the late adoption of the financial framework, as experienced in the past.”

Background

Around 94% of the EU budget goes to citizens, regions, cities, farmers and businesses. The EU’s administrative expenses account for approximately 6% of the total.

7th European Union–South Africa Summit: Strengthening the Strategic Partnership | EU Commission Press

On 15 November, EU and South African Leaders will meet in Brussels for the 7th EU-South Africa Summit, taking place in the year of the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Council Donald Tusk will represent the EU, and South Africa will be represented by its President Cyril Ramaphosa. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmström, as well as South African Ministers will also attend the Summit. Taking place in the framework of the EU-South Africa Strategic Partnership signed in 2007, the Summit will be an opportunity for Leaders to discuss bilateral cooperation, notably on economic, trade and investment cooperation; development cooperation; global challenges such as climate change, migration and human rights; multilateralism and cooperation in multilateral fora; and on the situation in the neighborhoods of each partner. A press conference by Presidents Juncker, Tusk and Ramaphosa is due to take place at 13:10More information on the Summit and a Factsheet on EU-South African relations are available online. Photos and videos of the Summit will be available on EbS.

Merkel: Nationalism and egoism must never have a chance again in Europe | EU Parliament Press

German Chancellor Angela Merkel debated the future of Europe with MEPs and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, on Tuesday.

“Tolerance is the soul of Europe and an essential basic value of the European idea”, Mrs Merkel said. This soul has been strained in recent years however, by many different challenges such as public debt, terrorism, wars being waged close to our continent, migration, digitalisation or climate change.

All of these can only be tackled successfully if Europe acts united and if we “treat the interests and needs of others as our own. Solidarity is based on tolerance and this is Europe’s strength. It is part of our common European DNA and it means overcoming national egoisms”.

Solidarity also means that if you weaken the rule of law in one country or attack freedom of press in one country, you do so in the whole of the EU. She also commented that “if you try to solve problems by making new debts, you disregard commitments made and question the foundations for strength and stability of the Euro area”.

EU to speak with one voice on global stage

To be “heard in a globalised world, Europe needs to grasp its destiny more firmly in its own hands, because the times where we could rely unreservedly on others are over”, said Mrs Merkel. Establishing a real European army, as an addition to NATO, “would show the world that there will never be war again between European countries”.

She also highlighted that economic success, research and innovation are vital for Europe and pointed to the need for reliant Frontex border controls and a common European asylum system.

“Europe is our best chance for peace, prosperity and a good future. We must not let this chance slide; we owe this to ourselves and to past and future generations. Nationalism and egoism must never have a chance to flourish again in Europe. Tolerance and solidarity are our future. And this future is worth fighting for”, she closed.

You can watch the plenary debate and the press point via EP Live, and EbS+.

You can watch the speakers’ interventions by clicking on the links below:

The speech can be found here

Romania: MEPs are deeply concerned about judicial independence and rule of law | EU Parliament Press

  • Capacity to fight corruption at risk after revamp of judicial and criminal laws 
  • Need to reinforce parliamentary control over the intelligence services 
  • MEPs condemn the violent and disproportionate police response to public protests  

The EP is “deeply concerned” about the reform of the Romanian judicial and criminal laws, which risks undermining separation of powers and the fight against corruption.

In a resolution wrapping up the plenary debate held on 3 October with Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă, the Chamber calls on the Romanian authorities to put in place safeguards to avoid circumventing the system of checks and balances and to counter any measures which would decriminalise corruption in office.

The text, passed with 473 votes to 151 and 40 abstentions, points to the new legislation on the status of judges and prosecutors, on judicial organisation and on the Superior Council of the Magistracy. In line with the warnings from the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Venice Commission, MEPs caution that the new legislation could have an impact on the independence of the judiciary, its efficiency and its quality, including negative consequences in the fight against corruption.

The changes to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code – many of which the Romanian Constitutional Court considers unconstitutional- are another source of concern, with additional effects on the capacity to combat corruption, violent crimes and organised criminality.

The role of the Romanian Intelligence Service and its alleged interference in the activities of the Romanian judiciary lead the EP to suggest reinforcing Romania’s parliamentary oversight of the intelligence services.

An impartial investigation into actions by riot police

The Parliament condemns the “violent and disproportionate intervention” by the police during the mass protests in Bucharest in August 2018 and calls on the Romanian authorities to ensure a transparent, impartial and effective investigation into the actions of the riot police.

New rules on financing NGOs

MEPs also warn that the legislation on the financing, organisation and functioning of NGOs could potentially intimidate civil society and note that it may be against the principle of freedom of association and the right to privacy.

Need to closely monitor anti-corruption efforts and respect of rule of law

The Parliament urges the European Commission to resume its annual anti-corruption monitoring in all EU member states and proposes a system of strict indicators to measure the level of corruption in each country and evaluate their anti-corruption policies.

A regular, systematic and objective process to assess respect of democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law is also necessary, according to the Parliament. Plenary will vote on a separate resolution on Wednesday, reiterating its calls for a mechanism to be established to assess the EU’s founding values in all member states every year.

COLLEGE MEETING: Brexit: European Commission intensifies preparedness work and outlines contingency action plan in the event of a no deal scenario with the UK | EU Commission Press

The European Commission has today published detailed information on its ongoing preparedness and contingency work in the event of a no deal scenario in the Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom. First, the Commission has published a Communication, which outlines a limited number of contingency actions in priority areas that could be implemented if no agreement is reached with the United Kingdom.

This follows a first preparedness Communication published on 19 July 2018. Secondly, the College of Commissioners has adopted two legislative proposals to amend existing EU law in the area of visas and energy efficiency to take account of the UK’s withdrawal. These targeted legislative adaptations are necessary, irrespective of the outcome of the withdrawal negotiations.  Thirdly, a notice has been published providing extensive information on the changes that will occur – in the event of no deal – for persons travelling between the EU and the UK, and vice versa, after 29 March 2019, or for businesses providing services in relation to such travel. It includes information on such things as border checks and customs controls, driving licences and pet passports, amongst others. While the European Commission is working hard for a deal, and continues to put citizens first in the negotiations, the UK’s withdrawal will undoubtedly cause disruption – for example in business supply chains – whether or not there is a deal. Contingency measures cannot remedy the full effects of this disruption. In the event of a no deal scenario, these disruptions will be even more significant and the speed of preparations would have to increase significantly. Contingency measures in narrowly defined areas may, exceptionally, be needed in order to protect the interests and the integrity of the EU. For more information, see here.

[FR] RÉSUMÉ | Débat | Quels défis pour la politique commerciale de l’UE à court et long termes?

Le mercredi 26 Septembre 2018, PubAffairs Bruxelles a organisé un débat en partenariat avec la Représentation permanente de l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) auprès de l’Union européenne qui portait sur les défis de la politique commerciale de l’UE à court et long termes et au cours duquel sont intervenus M. François Roux, Ambassadeur, Représentant de la Belgique auprès de l’UE, M. Pedro Velasco-Martins, Membre du Cabinet de la Commissaire chargée du commerce, Cecilia Malmström, M. Mathieu Maes, Secrétaire général de la Chambre de commerce internationale (ICC) – Belgique et M. David Luff, Professeur associé, Collège de l’Europe. Le débat était modéré par Hermine Donceel, journaliste freelance.

Read the rest of this entry

Energy: new ambitious targets on renewables and energy efficiency | EU Parliament Press

  • 32.5% increase in energy efficiency by 2030 
  • Renewables must make up 32% of energy consumed by 2030 
  • Push for second-generation biofuels 

Parliament approves binding 2030 target for renewables (32%) and an indicative target on energy efficiency (32.5%) that will play a crucial role in meeting the EU’s climate goals.

Parliament on Tuesday confirmed the provisional agreement reached with the Council in June on energy efficiency (434 votes to 104 with 37 abstentions), renewables (495 votes to 68 with 61 abstentions) and governance of the Energy Union (475 votes to 100 with 33 abstentions) – three important legislative files that are part of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package.

By 2030, energy efficiency in the EU has to have improved by 32.5%, whereas the share of energy from renewables should be at least 32% of the EU’s gross final consumption. Both targets are to be reviewed by 2023. These targets can only be raised, not lowered.

Lower energy bills and the right to become a renewable self-consumer

By making energy more efficient, Europeans will see their energy bills reduced. In addition, Europe will reduce its reliance on external suppliers of oil and gas, improve local air quality and protect the climate.

For the first time, member states will also be obliged to establish specific energy efficiency measures to the benefit of those affected by energy poverty.

Member states must also ensure that citizens are entitled to generate renewable energy for their own consumption, to store it and to sell excess production.

Moving towards second-generation biofuels

Second generation biofuels can play a significant role in reducing the carbon footprint of transport and at least 14% of fuel for transport purposes must come from renewable sources by 2030.

However, first generation biofuels with a high risk of “indirect land use change” (ILUC i.e. when land is converted from non-crop cultivation – such as grasslands and forests- to food production, which increases CO2 emissions) will no longer count towards the EU’s renewable energy goals from 2030. From 2019, the contribution of first generation biofuels to these goals will gradually be phased out until it reaches zero in 2030.

New governance to achieve the Energy Union

Each member state must present a ten-year “integrated national energy and climate plan” with national targets, contributions, policies and measures by 31 December 2019, and every ten years thereafter.

Quotes

Energy efficiency rapporteur Miroslav Poche (S&D, CZ) said: “Increased energy efficiency is a win-win policy for all Europeans. It is a good deal for our citizens, as it will bring about major reductions in energy consumption, thus reducing bills. But it is also great news for the competitiveness of European industry, reducing costs and stimulating investment.”

The rapporteur for renewables José Blanco López (S&D, ES) said: “We disincentivised investments in new production of food crop-based biofuels and we have pushed for advanced biofuels. We also managed to strengthen self-consumption as a right, and included the Parliament’s wish for a ban on charges and fees on self-consumed energy until 2026.”

Next steps

Once the Council formally adopts the deal, the new rules will be published in the Official Journal, and enter into force 20 days after publication. The regulation on governance will be directly applied in all member states, whereas member states will have to transpose the new elements of the other two directives into national law no later than 18 months after its entry into force.

Angela Merkel to debate future of Europe with MEPs on Tuesday at 15.00 | EU Parliament Press

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will debate the future of Europe with MEPs and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday from 15.00 to 17.30 in the Strasbourg Chamber.

This will be the twelfth in a series of future of Europe debates between EU heads of state or governments and MEPs.

You can watch the plenary debate via EP Live and EbS+

Debate (without resolution)

2018/2733(RSP)

Debate: Tuesday 13 November, at 15:00

General Affairs Council, 12/11/2018 | EU Council Press

Main results

Next multiannual financial framework

The Council held a policy debate on the multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027.

Ministers outlined their views on the points which they consider to be of most importance for a future agreement, in the light of work so far.

Their guidance will serve as a basis for further discussions between member states at technical level in the run-up to the December European Council.

The Austrian presidency continues to devote intensive efforts to taking forward work on all aspects of the next long-term budget, in line with the mandate received from the leaders. We are determined to make as much progress as possible.

Gernot Blümel, Austrian federal minister for the EU, art, culture and media

Article 7(1) TEU proceedings

Ministers discussed the state of play of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure concerning Hungary.

The Commission provided the Council with an update on the latest developments regarding judicial reform in Poland.

December European Council

The Council started preparations for the European Council meeting on 13-14 December by discussing an annotated draft agenda.

At their meeting in December, the EU leaders will focus on:

  • the multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027
  • the state of play regarding a fully functioning single market
  • the implementation of the comprehensive approach to migration
  • preparations for the summit with the League of Arab States on 24-25 February 2019
  • action against disinformation

Trust in public institutions and the rule of law

The Council held its fourth annual rule of law dialogue, focusing on trust in public institutions and the rule of law. With the participation of the Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, Michael O’Flaherty, ministers discussed the main factors which determine the level of trust in public institutions, and the role the media, civil society, the EU and member states can play to help encourage this trust.

The presidency will prepare conclusions on the debate, which will be sent to the relevant Council bodies for further consideration.

It is important that we continue the dialogue on the rule of law under our presidency, and that ministers have an opportunity to exchange views on this issue separately from specific individual cases. Our topic this year of trust in public institutions is vital to the proper functioning of our societies.

Gernot Blümel, Austrian federal minister for the EU, art, culture and media

Other items

Ministers heard a presentation and exchanged views on the 2019 Commission work programme.

The Commission presented its subsidiarity package published on 23 October. The package will be discussed in more detail at a conference organised by the Austrian presidency on 15-16 November in Bregenz, Austria.

As part of the preparation of the next European Semester, the Austrian presidency and the incoming Romanian presidency presented the 2019 European Semester roadmap.