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Environment: Member States Required to Intensify Efforts to Reach Kyoto Targets
An annual progress report released by the European Commission has revealed that the 15 pre-2004 Member States (the EU-15) may only just reach their Kyoto targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, provided that specific further action is taken. The EU-15 are committed to reducing their collective emissions in the 2008 - 2012 period to 8 per cent below the levels of their "base" year (in most cases, 1990). With existing policies, emissions are expected to be just 0.6 per cent below base year levels by 2010. Additional measures already agreed at EU and national levels would take the reduction to 4.6 per cent provided they are fully implemented on time. Ten of the EU-15 plan to obtain emission reduction credits from third country projects, carried out under Kyoto's market-based mechanisms. If realised, these would further reduce emissions to 7.2 per cent below base levels by 2010. With the addition of afforestation and reforestation activities, which create biological "sinks" that absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, total reduction could reach the Kyoto target of 8 per cent. Seven EU-15 States (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain) have projected that their emissions will be higher than permitted under the EU "burden-sharing" agreement, which translates the 8 per cent reduction commitment into legally binding individual emission targets.
Environment: Commission Proposes Ban on EU Mercury Exports
As part of the European Union’s mercury strategy, the European Commission has proposed a regulation banning the export of mercury from the EU, commencing 1 July 2011. The main aim of this proposal is to contribute to a global reduction in mercury exposure by decreasing supply and emissions. Mercury and its compounds are highly toxic to humans, ecosystems and wildlife, and even relatively low doses can have detrimental effects on the nervous system. The proposed regulation also provides for mercury industrial waste to be put into safe storage, for instance in underground salt mines adapted for waste disposal, once the ban comes into force. Whereas European mercury emissions are decreasing, global emissions are continuing to rise, largely due to increased coal combustion caused by the growing demand for electricity in developing countries. By proposing this measure, the Commission hopes to demonstrate the EU’s commitment to tackling worldwide mercury pollution.
State Aid: France Referred to ECJ for Failure to Recover Illegal Fiscal Aid
The European Commission has decided to institute proceedings before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in view of France's failure to comply with the Commission’s Decision of 16 December 2003. In this decision, the Commission concluded that the special tax regime applicable in France for takeovers of ailing companies under Article 44 septiès of the General Tax Code was incompatible with the State aid rules laid down in the EC Treaty and that the aid awarded should be recovered from the recipients. France should have taken all measures available under national law to obtain immediate and effective application of the Commission's decision, thus restoring fair competition. The Commission considers that, almost three years later, France has failed to take measures to recover the aid awarded under the General Tax Code.
Competition: ECJ Rejects Unilever Appeal over Irish Ice Cream Distribution
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has rejected the appeal by Unilever Bestfoods (Ireland) of a decision which held that its distribution of single-wrapped ice creams (“impulse ice creams”) violated Community competition law. Unilever, the long-dominant supplier of impulse ice creams in Ireland, offered Irish retailers a freezer cabinet at low/no cost, provided that the freezer was used exclusively for Unilever ice creams. Competitors trying to enter the Irish market complained to the European Commission that Unilever’s practices prevented them from competing in the Irish impulse ice cream market. The Commission agreed, finding that Unilever’s practices violated Community competition law. The Court of First Instance ultimately upheld the Commission’s decision. The ECJ has now ended this more than decade-long dispute by dismissing Unilever’s most recent appeal as groundless, and ordering it to pay costs.
Competition: CFI President in Favour of Specialised EU Competition Court
Bo Vesterdorf, the President of the Court of First Instance (CFI), has endorsed the creation of a specialised EU competition court. In a conference held in London in October, the president of the second-highest EU court said that such a specialised court could help reduce the backlog of cases at the CFI. Despite the introduction of an expedited procedure, some cases need more than one and a half years to be tried, thus reducing the effectiveness of judicial remedies for undertakings. Mr Vesterdorf expressed the opinion that a competition court could deal with competition cases in a speedier and more efficient way.
Energy: High Level Group Report on Europe’s Long-Term Energy Future
The High Level Group on Competitiveness, Energy and the Environment has adopted a report on Europe’s long-term energy future. The purpose of this report is to offer advice to policy makers in order to develop close co-ordination between policy and legislative initiatives. To this end, the report includes concrete recommendations on the way in which policy options can be developed to deliver a sustainable, low carbon and competitive energy system for Europe’s future. The report focuses on three main areas: future power generation and energy efficiency, international co-operation and R&D. In particular, the group calls on the Commission and Member States to improve the emissions trading scheme by promoting low carbon and secure energy technologies, to set a long-term reduction of greenhouse gases and CO2 emissions and to take further action to engage major emitters worldwide in the climate change challenge, through co-operation in technology development and deployment.
Trade: EU and Brazil Agree on New EU Poultry Meat Import Regime
The European Commission has concluded an agreement with Brazil on a new regime for imports into the EU of salted poultry meat, preparations of turkey meat and cooked chicken meat. The agreement modifies the current bound tariff rate concessions for the three items in question and foresees the creation of three new tariff rate quotas. For salted poultry meat, currently subject to a bound tariff rate of 15.4 per cent with no volume restrictions, the new concession will provide for a total ceiling of 264,245 tons imported at the same bound rate of 15.4 per cent ad valorem. For quantities above this, the out-of-quota rate will be €1,300 per ton. With regard to preparations of turkey meat, at present subject to a bound rate of 8.5 per cent with no restrictions on imported quantities, the new tariff rate will provide for a ceiling of 103,896 tons imported under the current bound rate of 8.5 per cent ad valorem. The out-of-quota rate will be €1,024 per ton. For the third product, cooked chicken meat, currently subject to a bound tariff rate of 10.9 per cent, the concession will provide for a total tariff quota of 230,453 tons imported under the same tariff of 10.9 per cent ad valorem. The out-of-quota rate will be €1,024 per ton.
Energy: EIB Reviews Target Areas for Financing
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has published an energy review paper to define its policy in the energy field, in order to reflect priorities given to energy matters within the EU. The EIB is the European Union's financing institution, which operates like a development bank, making long-term loans for capital investment projects and financing up to 50 per cent of total project costs. In its energy review the EIB focuses its energy operations on five target areas: (i) large projects of highest EU priority, including trans-European networks; (ii) energy efficiency, including investment in combined heat and power; (iii) renewable energies with emphasis on new technologies and less mature renewable markets such as biomass; (iv) research and development, especially within the Innovation 2010 Initiative (i2i); and (v) co-operation on energy outside the EU, in particular energy import routes and projects enhancing energy supply. In 2005 approximately 89 per cent of EIB financing went to projects located within the EU.
Monday 6 November – Friday 10 November 2006
Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) (7 November 2006)
Extraordinary Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) (7 November 2006)
COURT OF JUSTICE
C-243/05 P Agraz and Others v Commission
C-120/05 Heinrich Schulze
Environment and consumers
C-216/05 Commission v Ireland
C-236/05 Commission v United Kingdom
Freedom of movement for persons
Freedom to provide services
C-433/04 Commission v Belgium
Free movement of goods
C-281/05 Montex Holdings
Social security for migrant workers
C-412/04 Commission v Italy
Convention on jurisdiction
C-292/05 Lechouritou and Others
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
No judgments scheduled for next week