Scott's Choice


The Latest News about the European Union

Check back - news of interest about the EU that you are not likely to hear elsewhere will be added as appropriate.

Be sure not to miss What's Wrong with the EU?, from January 2017.
That webpage includes commentary and news updates added since it was published.

Also, be sure to check up on Other News


11 September 2018

Here is the September EU Update from our good friend and favorite author in Europe

What to expect from EU politics ahead of Brexit & EU elections?

Preparation for two landmark events in 2019 will be increasingly dominating EU politics this autumn and winter:   Brexit on 29 March, and the European Parliament elections end of May.

As regards Brexit, positions seem to be hardening between the EU and the UK on what their future relationship should look like.   The spectre of a “no-deal” Brexit has been conjured by both sides, and is likely to remain at the negotiating table as an option until well into 2019.   Business representatives from the EU as well as the UK have strongly rejected such an option (see joint declaration here).

The European Parliament elections in May will not only decide on legislative majorities but also on who will lead the other two EU institutions – the European Commission and the European Council – for the next five years.   It will force national parties in Europe to decide with whom to build coalitions across national borders.   For example, it is as yet unclear which parties will gather behind the new social-liberal movement of French President Macron, or which parties will officially side with the ruling right-wing parties in Italy and Hungary, Northern League and Fidesz.

Against this background, a lot of important legislative and political decisions will still be pushed through before the European Parliament dissolves in April, including:   Brexit and its impact on trade, steel quotas and tariffs, the EU-Japan free-trade agreement, clean energy, and energy storage, energy taxation, 2050 EU energy strategy, drinking water directive, regulation of water re-use, requirements for solar inveters, requirements for electric batteries, EU funding of R&D, clean vehicles directive, emissions standards, regulation of free flow of personal data, cybersecurity, publication of a plan on artificial intelligence, and more.

No freedom here.   Its glaring absence tells the whole story.
The EU continues socialism's march to total control.

15 July 2018

CO2 emissions reduced in the US, but increase in the EU
        The free market wins, socialism loses.

Here is the July EU Update from a favorite author and good friend in Europe

While global trade conflict is smoldering, the EU imposes provisional measures on steel

As Brussels is preparing for another visit of US President Trump this week on the occasion of a NATO Summit, the spectre of a fully-fledged trade war continues hanging in the air.

In a move less mediatized than the latest US-China tariffs, the EU decided on 5 July to introduce provisional safeguard measures on imports of certain steel types.   These measures are imposed on imports regardless of their country of origin and are formally intended to prevent steel hit by US tariffs to be diverted to the EU.

Advocacy action by corporations and trade federations led to the exemption of electrical steel for transformers from protectionist measures.   However, electrical steel for motors and generators is currently included in the measures.   The EU measures consist of a specific import quota above which a 25% tariff will be levied.   They will take effect later this month, with an exact date to be defined.   The measures are provisional, so discussions will continue, and a number of countries, such as Finland, Sweden, and Estonia are critical of them.

The bulk of EU measures could actually hit Chinese steel, which makes the visit of China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang to Europe this week particularly timely.   The EU had earlier launched an official complaint against China at the World Trade Organisation for alleged "unfair technology transfers".

EU’s new 2030 energy targets translate into 55% renewable electricity

After a year and a half of negotiations, the 8 legislative files forming the “Clean Energy Package" to define the EU energy market for the next decade are now being closed one after the other.   In that context the European Institutions have now concluded their negotiations on new targets for 2030.   Next to the already agreed 40% greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2030 (compared to 1990), renewable energy should now represent 32% of the energy consumed in 2030.   This translates into roughly 55%, if one considers only electricity.   Currently about one third of the EU’s electricity comes from renewable sources.   In addition energy efficiency is set to improve by 32,5%, compared to business as usual, in 2030.

Energy targets were one of the most debated issues among EU policymakers, yet more important decisions are still outstanding: the laws on “Electricity Market Design" setting detailed rules for the functioning of European electricity markets - including on the ownership of storage or the rules for self-generation of electricity - are still to be agreed during the second half of the year.   The European trade federation of grid technology suppliers, will use the last few months of the negotiations to further promote the idea of developing a smart grid indicator, following the example of the US grid modernization index.

8 June 2018

France's Macron, Canada's Trudeau start row against Trump going into G7 Summit
"The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion," states Trump, "Europe and Canada are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers."
Time for more balanced trade, Europe and Canada.   Even up the playing field.

Here is another EU Update from a favorite author and good friend in Europe

EU Policy Update – May 2018

This newsletter highlights recent developments in EU policy and regulation that are of particular importance to business interests.

As EU prepares reaction to US import tariffs, industry fights on electrical steel exemptions.

On 1 June the US ended exemptions for the EU (as well as for Canada and Mexico) on the tariffs for steel and aluminium imported into the US.   Electrical steel - used for the production of transformers, motors and generators - is part of the steel types on which a 25% tariff will be imposed.   The EU reaction to US tariffs will be twofold:

First, the EU will, probably in July, enact retaliation tariffs on a number of products, although not electric steel.   The full list of products can be found here.   Retaliation tariffs, in turn, could further exacerbate tensions: the US has already started an investigation into possible tariffs on imported cars, which would hit Europe especially hard.

Second, the EU is currently carrying out a so-called safeguard investigation, which could result in tariffs on steel and aluminium from third countries hit by US tariffs (such as Asian countries).   This is meant to prevent steel and aluminium, which otherwise would have gone to the US, from lowering prices in the EU.   Electrical steel is part of this investigation, and a number of companies have signed up as an interested party to the European Commission to make the case against safeguard measures on electrical steel.   First decisions are expected as early as June.

The European Commission recently released an initiative on Artificial Intelligence (available here) with three main strategic objectives:
•   to increase European investments in AI
•   to prepare Europeans for socio-economic changes brought by AI
•   to guarantee an appropriate ethical and legal framework.

AI is expected to transform industry in the coming years.   Besides the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, customers who shared their views at the event included Hakan Agnevall from Volvo Buses, Eddie O’Connor from Mainstream Renewable Power and Wouter Ceulemans from Atlas Copco.

New buildings to be “eMobility-ready” across the EU from 2020 onwards

On 14 May, the EU Institutions adopted the “Energy Performance of Buildings Directive”, a text aiming at improving energy efficiency in buildings, accelerating renovation, and paving the way for the uptake of electric vehicles.

The Platform for Electro-Mobility - of which a number of companies are members – had advocated over the last year in favour of mandating a minimum deployment of EV charging spots in buildings.   The final compromise found among European policymakers partly meets the expectations of the EV industry and should foster the market for slow-charging solutions:

•   In new and deeply renovated non-residential buildings with more than 10 parking space, 10% of the parking spaces will have to be equipped with a recharging point, and 20% will have to be equipped with conduits facilitating the later installation of a charging point.

•   In new and deeply renovated residential buildings, with more than 10 parking spaces, all of them will have to be equipped with conduits facilitating the later installation of a charging point.

The new law is expected to enter into force in June 2018 and Member States will have 20 months to implement it.

17 April 2018

France's Macron warns of EU "civil war" between eastern, western countries

7 February 2018

Merkel makes concessions to form new government after four months

30 January 2018

- Thanks once again to a good friend and one of our favorite authors!

EU Policy Update - January 2017

Amid general stability, Brexit showdown looms

While EU economic sentiment is at its highest since 2000, leaders of the two biggest parties in Germany agreed in January on their intention to renew the current "grand coalition".   If negotiations are successful, the two biggest EU countries – Germany and France – will have governments wanting to strengthen EU and Eurozone integration.

Such a drive, however, is set to mobilise counterforces.   In Poland, for example, the government is trying to stave off EU policy influence.   Just before Christmas the European Commission triggered a procedure against the Polish government under Article 7 of EU Treaties because it thinks that the independence of the Polish judicial system cannot be guaranteed anymore.   In other Central European countries, such as Hungary and the Czech Republic, governments share distrust of too much EU power.   Also in Italy, which will hold federal elections on 4 March, Eurosceptic sentiment is high albeit more focused against austerity policies.

While tensions around the EU’s future might or might not erupt, a clash over Brexit seems almost inevitable this year.   The UK government, on one side, and EU Institutions, on the other, keep defending irreconcilable negotiation positions.   The UK government maintains its red lines of not wanting to be part of the Internal Market anymore, while the European Commission maintains an "all or nothing" approach, where either the UK accepts EU internal market rules or will be treated like a third country, such as Canada, in all aspects.   In between, the Irish question looms, where a "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (which is full EU member) must be avoided.   A deal needs to be struck at or around a European Council in October, and this deal will then need to be approved by the UK Parliament later in autumn.

Cybersecurity rules – industry wants to remain in the driving seat

In September 2017 the European Commission proposed a new Cybersecurity Legislative Package, which is currently being debated by EU Institutions for adoption by the end of 2018.

The general direction of the new package is similar to the 2016 EU Directive on the Security of Networks and Information Systems, which defines cyber-critical infrastructure in Europe and which is currently being implemented at national level.   More resources to build up cybersecurity capacity throughout the European Union is an objective.

At the same time, there are concerns about a proposal in the package to move towards third-party certification and testing of cybersecurity standards by default.   The validity of cybersecurity tests very much depends on the framework conditions of the tests.   At worst, costly third-party testing can create a false sense of security among users.   Self-declaration of conformity, based on international standards, defined by industry itself in bodies such as the IEC or ISA, are well-proven procedures, which companies say should not be easily given up.

At an event in a European Parliament on 23 January, the manufacturing industry discussed with EU politicians their views about the new cybersecurity proposals.   It became clear that a number of companies had similar concerns.   The respective position papers of European industry federations Orgalime and ZVEI are available for viewing.

EU Institutions inching closer to an agreement on the Clean Energy Package

In November 2016, the European Commission released a set of 8 legislative proposals to improve the internal energy market, better integrate large shares of renewable energy sources, empower consumers and set the energy sector on a course compatible with the Paris Agreement.

Over the last year, the European Parliament on the one hand, and the Council of the EU (i.e., national government ministers) on the other hand, have been meeting separately and regularly to discuss and amend the proposed pieces of legislation.   This process culminated on 18 December when the Council agreed on its position on future electricity market design.   Slightly lagging behind, the European Parliament is scheduled to agree on its own proposals on 21 February.

Once both positions are known, a final negotiation phase will start and the two institutions will have to reconcile their views.   While the European Parliament is expected to back high energy efficiency (40%) and renewable energy (35%) targets for 2030, the Council of the EU would like both targets to be set at 27% over concerns that higher targets may burden their economies.   Due to this wide gap, negotiations are not expected to be concluded before the summer, at the earliest.

Regardless of this delay and uncertain future targets, technical provisions for improving the internal energy market and integrate renewable energy (shorter imbalance settlement period, smaller bid sizes, balancing responsibility, right to self-consumption, phase-out of non-market-based support scheme) benefit from wide policy-makers support.   In addition, the trade federation T&D Europe, continues to advocate for the benefits of Smart Grid KPIs, on which grid operators should report in order to facilitate investments in digital solutions to make the grid more intelligent and more efficient.

19 January 2018

Germany begins to ponder life after Merkel

18 January 2018

EU fearful of populism, tightens immigration
"We can’t welcome everyone, and we can’t act without rules."

4 January 2018

German newspaper says NAZI-style CENSORSHIP law should be scrapped

3 January 2018

NAZI-style CENSORSHIP in Germany!
It's not freedom when it can be taken away by the government.
Freedom is when the government is not permitted to take it away.
And more:   NAZI-style CENSORSHIP in Germany!

30 December 2017

East-West European Divide is Bigger Than Brexit
A growing political gulf between central Europe and western EU powers.   Brussels triggered Article 7 against Poland – a punishment that can lead to states being stripped of their voting rights in EU institutions.   Hungary is likely to face a similar reprimand.

15 December 2017

Brexit talks break impasse; negotiations continue.

20 November 2017

Merkel unable to form new government

4 November 2017

Ambassador Nikki Haley berates UN resolution against US embargo of Cuba
Only Israel voted with us.   Where was Britain?   Where was the EU?

Clearly, being in power supersedes human rights for those in power in those countries.   Looks like you are more interested in staying in control.   Wouldn't want your serfs to get any radical ideas from the United States that would upset your applecart - like that freedom is a right - would you?   That might get inconvenient for you.

Don't miss what happened, and what it means.   When it came right down to it, Britain and all the other so-called progressive countries of Europe showed their true colors.   They stood with the tyrants and dictators of the world, against individual rights and freedom.   It's as simple as that.

21 October 2017

Czech Trump clinches victory, eurosceptics boosted

Far right scores surpising successes
"The European Union can't be reformed. It only dictates to us. We refuse the multicultural European superstate. Let's leave the EU."

16 October 2017

Austrian wins on lower taxes, less red tape, tighter immigration

Rightward lurch is Europe's New Normal

Populists set to thrash traditional parties in Czech vote

EU Holds Its Breath After Right-Wing Austrian Victory

Brussels On Edge

2 October 2017

EU in crisis due to Catalonia referendum and violence by Spain's masked policemen.
    Overwhelming vote for independence from Spain!
    Freedom? Human rights? The EU is not-so-strangely silent; socialism uber alles!

1 October 2017

No freedom of speech in Spain - police smash referendum voting in Catalonia

24 September 2017

The Trump effect reaches Germany
The Alternative for Germany Party finishes third; wins seats in the German Parliament
Read here to find out what the AfD is - Fascist they are not

22 September 2017

As Germany heads to the polls, a growing split is occurring between voters and the elites
"Voters" and "elites"??? This is aristocracy and serfs all over again.   Europeans still fail to keep a leash on their elected officials; they still have the attitude of arrogance once they are in power.   Europeans need to act like citizens; they need to recognize that it is their government, and they need to remind their politicians not to forget it - Europeans need to stay involved; to take political action.

12 September 2017

- Thanks to a good friend and one of our favorite authors!

EU focus this autumn:   Preparing for Brexit, Digitalization, and Clean Transport

In EU politics, the official new year does not start in January but in September, more precisely on 13 September when Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, will hold his State of the Union speech. It will herald the last full year before the European Parliament dissolves in Spring 2019, at about the same time as the UK is scheduled to leave the EU.

Without the United Kingdom, the Eurozone - i.e., EU countries which share the common Euro currency - will then make up as much as 85% of the EU’s total GDP. Some countries, such as France, therefore openly flirt with ideas for a stronger political governance of the Eurozone.

This newsletter highlights recent developments in EU policy and regulation that are of particular importance.

Discussions on such big political questions will only start in earnest, once a new government is formed in Germany, where federal elections will be held on 24 September. Although it is all but certain that Angela Merkel will remain chancellor, the exact composition of the future German Parliament is highly uncertain. Difficult coalition negotiations might delay the formation of a new German government, and with that progress on Brexit negotiations and the post-Brexit EU.

The new EU initiatives to watch in particular this autumn include:
  -   a law proposal prohibiting any restrictions on the free movement of data across borders for reasons other than national security.
  -   a new action plan on cybersecurity, which might include minimum cybersecurity requirements for connected devices.
  -   a policy package to advance the uptake of clean transport (see below).

European Commission to address the "chicken-and-egg" challenge of electric vehicles

On 13 July, the European Commission, together with representatives of European cities and regions as well as infrastructure suppliers, signed the European Clean Bus Deployment Initiative, to bolster public investment in buses running on electricity, hydrogen, and biogas.

This declaration chimes with a series of EU initiatives to tackle the "chicken-and-egg" challenge of clean vehicles, whereby consumers do not purchase clean vehicles because of the lack of infrastructure, while potential infrastructure operators do not invest because of the lack of vehicles on the road.

The European Parliament is currently discussing a law requiring petrol stations to sell a minimum share of renewable fuels. The share could be reached through either higher reliance on biofuels, or deployment of charging infrastructure sourcing electricity from renewable sources.   debate on electro-mobility occurred in the EU Parliament, on 7 September.

Moreover, the European Commission is expected to release in November an "action plan" - backed up with grants and various financing schemes - to accelerate the deployment of clean vehicle infrastructure along highways. It will also propose new emission performance standards for cars and may even introduce a "zero-emission vehicles program", inspired by California. Such a programme would encourage car manufacturers to sell a minimum share of zero-emission vehicles.

Proposal to make building automation mandatory stirs debate at European Parliament

Buildings account for 40% of energy use in the EU, and 36% of CO2 emissions, making them a prime target for policies aiming at curbing EU energy import dependence and abating climate change. The first EU-wide requirements for buildings were adopted in 2002, updated in 2010, and are now set to be revised again by the beginning of next year.

One important aspect of the new text relates to Building Automation and Control systems (BACs). While the conservative party in the European Parliament rejects regulating them, the social democrats have proposed to make them compulsory by 2023 for all energy-intensive buildings, defined as consuming more than 250 MWh/year or with an electricity connection above 100 kW.

Attendees to the European Manufacturing Forum presented their views on building automation technologies to the European Parliament on 6 September.   Topics that were discussed included the low cost and high impact of building automation in terms of energy savings and comfort.

Idea of a "smart grids indicator" attracting attention from all political parties

With a rising number of renewable energy sources being connected to the grid, the question of managing sudden variations of power generation, congestions and energy dispatch is recognized as a crucial issue by European policymakers discussing the EU clean energy package 2030.

Various technologies exist to cope with these challenges, but their deployment requires an appropriate regulatory framework. The European federation T&D Europe has proposed to create a "grid smartness indicator", based on various data coming from the grid, such as losses, curtailment, frequency and duration of outages, etc. Its purpose would be to better identify where grids need to be modernised, help TSOs and DSOs to demonstrate the reliability of their grids, and highlight the concrete benefits of smarter grids.

During the summer, T&D Europe's advocacy campaign succeeded in garnering support from the main political groups in the EP. The actual vote on this proposal, and on the clean energy package in general, is now expected to take place at the end of the year.

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