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


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 Ė Germany and France Ė 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 EUís 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 Ė 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 canít welcome everyone, and we canít 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 Ė 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 EUís 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. A 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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