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3 June 2019

Mette Frederiksen: the anti-immigration Left leader set to win power in Denmark
Social Democrats are election frontrunners but critics say their leader has dragged the party sharply to the right.   Her left-of-centre bloc has an eight percentage point lead.   Under Frederiksen the party has been ruthlessly reshaped: dragged to the left economically – and sharply to the right on immigration.   "For me, it is becoming increasingly clear that the price of unregulated globalisation, mass immigration and the free movement of labour is paid for by the lower classes," she said

Why the UK is suddenly suffering from a physician shortage


1 June 2019

Here is the May 2019 EU Update Report,
from our good friend and favorite author in Europe


Comments and references to our webpages have been added where relevant.

How will the European election results shape EU policy in the coming years?

Between 23 and 26 May, more than 200 million EU citizens voted for their representatives in the European Parliament.   While voting behavior differed between individual Member States, here are some of the overall results, which will influence policymaking over the next political cycle of the EU Institutions (2019-2024):

Ethical guidelines for Artificial Intelligence - what implications for industry?

In April the European Commission published Ethical Guidelines for AI, including seven key requirements such as human oversight, safety, accountability, and transparency.   They will now be tested and piloted in real-life AI applications across sectors, and serving as the foundation of potential policy action for the next European Commission.

One has to ask why is the EU even concerned about this?   Human oversight is a part of any computer system.   Issues of "oversight, safety, accountability" are already part of the legal code.   "Transparency" simply means government intrusion into the inner workings of any given corporation.   This is just another example of close-at-hand paternalism by a government bent on firm control at the lowest levels - tyranny by a dictatorship.

The EU Guidelines were drafted in a High-Level Group, regrouping scientists, industry and other societal stakeholders.   Orgalim, the European trade federation of the technology industries, will be among those giving input.   Members are preparing input to the practical application of the ethical guidelines, such as the technical feasibility of accountability and transparency, and are discussing those issues with the European Commission.   For industry, it remains a constant challenge to educate policymakers on AI applications in B2B settings whereas B2C AI applications, for example in social media, are the driving force behind political AI discussions.

In an initiative similar to the EU activity, the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, together with Argentinia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Columbia, Peru and Romania agreed to uphold standards which are robust, safe, fair, and trustworthy.   They will be discussed at the G20 meeting in Japan at end of June.

The trade association Sea Europe

European companies involved with marine technologies are taking part in discussions on maritime regulations, as part of Sea Europe, the European association of shipyards and maritime equipment manufacturers.   Sea Europe's mission is to promote the interests of the maritime industries and in particular the design, construction, refit, maintenance and modernisation of safe and environmentally sound ships by using state-of-the-art-technologies.

The association is in constant dialogue with the European Commission to protect itself from stifling, if not smothering, over-regulation that is destructive to shipping and maritime operations and all maritime-related topics and acts as an information on the latest initiatives taken by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and other regulatory bodies.

Members of the trade federation will have an additional opportunity to interact with other partners, clients, and promote ideas on autonomous shipping and decarbonization of the maritime sector, i.e., with batteries, fuel cells, or other propulsion technologies.

EU support for clean tech and infrastructure deployment to continue after 2020

Following the post-election battle for top EU jobs, another battle will ensue on the total amount and allocation of the 2021-27 EU budget.   While some countries such as France and Poland would like the agricultural sector to continue being the prime recipient of European funds, other countries advocate for prioritizing research and innovation and for supporting the less advanced economies of the EU.

While the exact budget allocation between EU funding programmes remains unknown, out-going Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have already determined some of the priority areas for support through a vote on 18 April 2019.

More specifically, MEPs agreed to earmark 35% of the research and development funds (so-called "Horizon Europe"), for clean technologies, i.e., low-carbon or zero-carbon alternatives to existing technologies even though ist has already been shown that more CO2 is better, not worse.

With regards to infrastructure and technology deployment, the European Institutions also decided to continue the "Connecting Europe Facility" fund, a key instrument for developing cross-border electricity connections (both AC and DC) and railway infrastructure.

Last but not least, various companies will have the possibility to tap into the upcoming €50bn "InvestEU" programme to obtain EU guarantees for infrastructure and technology deployment projects.   The EU's hope is to trigger €650bn of investments - again, a government-driven economy, not a market-driven economy, which has a proven historical record and far-greater historical success, and which promotes individual freedom - into four areas, including sustainable infrastructure (for energy, transport, water, etc.) and digitization (artificial intelligence, industrial automation, etc.).


28 May 2019

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's favoured successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer sparked outrage on social media on Tuesday with an apparent call for limits to free speech around elections
        And that is how censorship begins . . .


27 May 2019

Dominant centrist Parties lose grip on power - big leaps for Nationalists, Greens
        In the UK, the newly-formed Brexit Party soared to victory,
        gaining 28 seats amid massive losses for Conservatives and Labour

France's Macron vs. Italy's Salvini: Two leaders face off over EU's future
        Voting across the European Union's 28 countries ended the domination of the
        center-right and center-left parties in Parliament and established the anti-EU forces
        on the right and the environmentalists on the left as forces to be reckoned with.


26 May 2019

Europe's voters elect new parliament amid rising nationalism
          Voters against EU Socialist bureaucrats

         


16 April 2019

EU seeks to remold Internet with new copyright rules
        "It could act as censorship and change internet culture."
        Italy, Sweden, Poland, Finland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg voted against it
        "implementation is likely to be uneven"
German Data Privacy Commissioner Says Article 13 Inevitably Leads to Filters, Which Inevitably Lead to Internet "Oligopoly"

Proof the EU is ultimately a dictatorship and does not represent the populace
This petition - with the largest number of signatories in the history of the EU
was disregarded and ignored in making the decision to adopt and enfoce Article 13


8 April 2019

Deadllock in London keeps Brexit hanging


31 March 2019

Here is the March 2019 EU Update Report,
from our good friend and favorite author in Europe

Brexit: new timetables, as uncertainty reigns in UK Parliament

The UK Parliament remains deeply divided on Brexit.   Over the last months it has twice voted down the Withdrawal Agreement which the UK Government had negotiated with the EU Institutions.   Therefore, UK Prime Minister Theresa May asked the EU for an extension of the 29 March Brexit date.   At a European Council meeting on 21 March the leaders of the remaining 27 EU Member States granted the UK a conditional extension:

  • If the UK Parliament, in a third vote, approves the Withdrawal Agreement by 29 March, then the UK's departure date will be extended to 22 May.   The Withdrawal Agreement will then trigger a transition period until end 2020, during which the future relationship with the EU is negotiated.

  • If, however, the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by 29 March, the extension is only extended to 12 April.   Therefore, a no-deal Brexit on 13 April is still possible, unless the UK Parliament indicates a clear way forward by then.   This way forward could still trigger a longer extension of EU Membership, possibly for years, with the UK participating in European Parliament elections end of May.

  • UK Prime Minister May wants to hold the third vote on the Withdrawal Agreement on 29 May, but as events are unfolding on an hourly basis, everything remains possible at this point in time.

    EU leaders to define the 2050 decarbonisation strategy

    Notwithstanding the recent adoption of various laws to support renewable energy sources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or mandate public authorities to procure a minimum share of clean vehicles, the European Union is not on track to meet its 2050 decarbonization commitments under the Paris Agreement.

    As a consequence, the European Commission published at the end of November a draft strategy, proposing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050.   This document touches on many economic sectors, in particular energy, transport, buildings and industry, and heralds a new wave of policy initiatives post-2020, with potential far-reaching consequences for the customers of those industries.

    With this draft document on the table, leaders of EU Member States are scheduled to meet in June and October in order to agree on the EU's general decarbonization strategy.   Among the questions to be answered are "should the EU aim at carbon neutrality, and by when?   How to reconcile the EU's industrial policies and climate policies?".   For businesses, the strategy will likely be an additional opportunity to market energy-efficient products, and automation technologies.

    In the transport sector, the Platform for Electro-mobility organization has developed its own recommendations to policymakers, chief among them a call for a complete decarbonization of the transport sector by 2050 and for prioritising electric mobility over conventional fuels in the medium to long term.  

    European Investment Bank is reviewing its Energy Lending Policy

    The European Investment Bank (EIB) defines its current approach towards supporting the energy sector in its Energy Lending Criteria, which were adopted in 2013.

    Since 2013, EIB lending to energy infrastructure has averaged €13.5bn/year (~18% of total volume), around 87% of which has been inside the EU.   The EIB has mostly channelled its energy lending toward renewable energy (36%), energy efficiency (24%), and electricity grids (23%) including financing for 30 European Projects of Common Interest.

    In November 2018, the EU agreed on a set of laws to deliver ambitious climate and energy targets for 2030, notably a binding renewable energy target of at least 32% and an energy efficiency target of at least 32.5%.   As a result of the new framework, the EIB is revising its Energy Lending Criteria.   By end of March 2019, the bank will have finalized a public consultation, which included dialogues with stakeholders in evaluating key trends and investment challenges.

    The federation T&D Europe, has been participating in the consultation, pointing towards certain technologies and financing models for the EIB to consider, such as investments in microgrids, and digitalization at all voltage levels, in order for the EU to fulfil its 2030 energy targets.   The bank should also place greater focus on offshore wind generation projects and enable more cross-border grid connections.

    Next steps: In Q2-2019, the EIB will review and publish stakeholder comments as part of the consultation.   Afterwards, the EIB then aims to publish a draft of the revision before discussion at the EIB's Board of Directors, with the final revised EIB Energy Lending Policy aiming to be published later in Q3-2019.


    27 March 2019

    EU lawmakers approve controversial copyright reform - 'Dark day for internet freedom'

    Brexit Chaos - no plan backed by a majority in the British parliament

           

    26 March 2019

    Controversial copyright law to be put to a vote
    The vote could change the way memes spread and gifs are shared in Europe.
    Tech companies and citizens alike are not impressed.




    23 March 2019

    Belatedly, Here is the Februuary 2019 EU Update Report,
    from our good friend and favorite author in Europe

    On 1 February 2019 the EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement, signed in summer 2018, officially entered into force.

  • Overall tariffs on more than 90% of the EU's exports to Japan will be eliminated, especially on agriculture, food products, wine, leather, wood, fisheries.   Non-tariff barriers such as alignment of standards and opening of new economic sectors to European products are also included in the deal.

  • In the power sector, procurement related to the production, transport or distribution of electricity by sub-central government entities is now open.

  • In the railway sector, procurements of good and services by sub-central government entities and by specific companies - Hokkaido Railway Company, Japan Freight Railway Company, Japan Railway, Construction, Transport and Technology Agency, Shikoku Railway Company and Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd - are covered by the deal.   Procurement will be open to EU suppliers on 1 February 2020.

  • On Brexit, there is still no majority in the UK Parliament to approve a withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU.   Further talks are ongoing between the UK and the EU leadership and new votes are scheduled in the UK Parliament later in February.   However, if no progress is made, the UK will leave the EU without a deal on 29 March and automatically fall back on general tariffs and rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
  • EU approves law mandating clean public buses

    On 11 February, a deal was struck between all European institutions on the "Clean Vehicles Directive", a law aimed at increasing public authorities' purchase of cleaner vehicles.   Over the last 18 months, a coordinated coalition of companies, NGOs and trade federations, advocated in favour of procurement targets for electric vehicles.

    These efforts have paid off: starting from 2021, a minimum share of the new vehicles purchased/leased by public authorities (public administrations, but also public transport operators, public utilities, litter collection and postal services) will have to be "clean":

  • For cars and vans, the minimum procurement targets will range from 18.7% to 38.5% depending on each EU country's GDP, i.e., the higher target will roughly apply to western Europe, the lower one to Central and Eastern Europe.   In 2021, a car will be considered clean if it emits less than 50gr CO2 / km, effectively supporting the take up of plugin-hybrids and battery electric vehicles.   From 2026 onwards, only zero-emission cars will be considered "clean".

  • For buses, the minimum procurement targets will range from 24% to 45%.   In 2026, these minimum targets will go up to 33%-66%.   Here, "clean" is understood broadly and covers vehicles powered by CNG, LNG, biofuels, fuel cells and batteries BUT out of these clean vehicles, at least half of them should be zero-emission, i.e., electric.   As an example, in Germany, 22.5% of the newly procured buses should be zero-emission starting from 2021.   From 2026, this figure will climb to 33%.
  • How technologies help EU food waste policies

    The EU decided last year to define a - non-binding - target to halve food waste by 2030 (with an interim target of 30% by 2025).   By 2023 the EU will reassess whether this food waste target is to become binding.

    Opportunities on food waste prevention in the industrial food processing stage include reducing food waste between harvest and consumption, even in developed countries - in Europe it is close to 20% of all food waste.

    Discussion with policymakers revolved around whether and how a technology benchmark could be developed to label the less wasteful food production processes.

    Electric urban transport solutions to Belgian municipalities

    On January 29, an event "How Swedish Industry Contributes to Sustainable Mobility" was presented at the Swedish Residence in Brussels.

    Representatives from regions, municipalities, and transportation companies across Belgium and Sweden attended.   Keynote speakers included Anneli Hulthen, former Mayor of the Swedish city Gothenburg.   She shared experiences in successfully rolling out Volvo electric buses and the associated infrastructure across the city of 570,000 inhabitants.

    Volvo featured speakers from its Buses, Trucks, and Construction segments.   Also addressed was the growing interconnectivity between the transportation network, electricity grid, and heating systems, and efficiently managing cities' future energy needs.

    The event, which was supported by the Swedish Trade & Investment Council Business Sweden, proved a successful means to reach customers in the smart city and transportation segment.


    6 March 2019

    Estonia's cener-right populist party wins more parliament seats and here


    20 February 2019

    Proposed EU copyright law destructive - callous disregard for everyone's best interests


    14 February 2019

    Finland's Socialist experiment a failure by any other name

    Airbus to shut down production of A380 - $16B blunder
    Boeing said market would be for smaller planes like 787; they were right.


    3 February 2019

    British PM Theresa May vows to battle for Brexit in Brussels

    Germany's yellow-vest protests against government's ban of older diesels


    27 January 2019

    Europe "coming apart defore our eyes"

    Violence at "yellow vest" protests sparks "red scarves" rally


    16 January 2019

    British freedom and soverignty foiled by "inept" bureaucrats?
    "However annoying you may think the feds are here, they've got nothing on the Brussels bureaucrats who run the EU."


    13 January 2019

    Brexit delay creates headache for Europe


    12 January 2019

    Here is the January 2019 EU Update Report,
    from our good friend and favorite author in Europe


    Comments and references to our webpages have been added where relevant.


    2019 starters: Brexit and trade measures

    In terms of EU political nuts to crack, 2019 starts where 2018 ended:

    On Brexit, Europe is still waiting for the UK Parliament to approve a UK-EU withdrawal agreement negotiated between the UK government and the EU.   A vote had initially been planned for 11 December but was postponed due to a near certainty that UK Parliamentarians would vote the agreement down.   Now the vote is planned for next week, possibly 15 January, while UK Prime Minister May is still trying to obtain further reassurances from the EU side that certain "backstop" provisions in the agreement would not be permanent.   However, the remaining 27 EU Member States seem firm not to re-open negotiations.

    A UK parliamentary approval of the withdrawal agreement would trigger a transition period until end 2020, during which the future relationship with the EU could be negotiated.   This means a UK parliamentary approval would avoid a no-deal Brexit on 29 March.   If, however, the UK Parliament votes down the agreement - which seems to be the more likely scenario at this point in time - the risk of a hard Brexit will increase.   As a consequence, preparations for such a no-deal Brexit are ramping up, including within many businesses.

    On international trade, EU-US negotiations are continuing behind closed doors to prevent further trade measures from either side.   European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom is travelling to Washington this week.   At the same time the European Commission has now extended "safeguard" measures against steel and aluminium imports to at least 2021.   These measures, which have been provisionally in place since July 2018, define import quotas for specific countries - mainly for big steel exporters like Russia, China, South Korea and Turkey.   Crucially for some manufacturers, imports of electrical steel for transformers remain exempted from the permanent measures, but imports of electrical steel for motors & generators from Russia, China, South Korea and Taiwan are subject to quotas.


    European institutions ink final deal on EU Clean Energy Package 2030

    After two years of negotiations, eight laws forming the so-called "Clean Energy Package" were approved by EU Institutions on 18 December.   The new laws define the EU energy framework for the next decade.   They will overhaul power markets, and affect a wide variety of electrical product manufacturers and customers, e.g., utilities, aggregators, installers and consumers.

    The key issue in the above and in the paragraphs which follow is the imposition of restrictions and loss of freedoms for Europeans.

    This brings to mind this quote by Ayn Rand, "A European is disarmed in the face of a dictatorship: he may hate it, but he feels that he is wrong and, metaphysically, the State is right.   An American would rebel to the bottom of his soul." - although the recent Yellow-Vest riots in Paris are a good start in the right direction, if they follow through.

    The EU is in its structure a dictatorship.   Europeans need to fight for their freedoms; the EU is clearly bent on imposing its will on them and certainly has not the slightest interest in defending their freedom, as demonstrated by the focus on regulation and the notably absent focus on defense.


    Several far-reaching provisions stand out:

    Renewable energy sources to cover 32% of final energy consumption (and 55% of final electricity consumption) by 2030;

    Energy efficiency to increase by 32% by 2030;

    At what cost to the people of Europe?!?!?   This will drive up the cost of living for all Europeans; those just above the poverty line will sink below it.

    Subsidies to power plants emitting more than 550gr CO2/kWh (i.e., coal-fired) will be progressively phased out.

    Destroying jobs and increasing the cost of living.

    Electrical transmission system operators (TSOs) must set up trans-national Regional Coordination Centres by 2023.   (centralized control)   These centres will provide a certain number of services such as cross-border capacity calculation and coordinated security analysis;

    Ownership of energy storage facilities and EV charging stations by system operators will be tightly controlled.

    Why?   The free-market would do a much better job of providing services, and at a lower cost - with the United States being the greatest example.   But Socialist governments explicitly deny the ability of a free market - the people - to take the best course of action (well, of course - given that the definition of "the best course of action" is defined by those in control of the government; that is why Socialism is all about control and the use of force).

    Energy regulators should ensure that TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs) take appropriate measures to make their network smarter, based on indicators such as capability to operate lines under dynamic line rating, development of remote monitoring and control, grid losses and frequency and duration of outages.   A number of manufacturers successfully proposed and advocated for this concept of a Smart Grid Indicator.

    Certainly giving the appearance of those manufacturers being among those jockeying for political power and control as well.

    Of course, what other choice do they have?   In a Socialist environment, one must either be in control or be overrun by those who are in control.   Nobody willingly chooses to be a peasant, disregarded by both sides and trampled upon in any conflict.

    Nobody has any real familiarity with the subtleties of an American style of government, based on the rights of the individual, and where those individuals control their government not only through their votes but also through their involvement in the government's operation.


    The Clean Energy Package will gradually enter into force between now and 2020.


    EU pushes forward policies supporting eMobility

    With new models of electric cars expected to hit the road this year, and global cumulative electric vehicles (EVs) sales set to exceed 5 million during the first quarter, 2019 will likely be a tipping point for the eMobility industry.   It will also be a key year in Brussels, where European elections at the end of May and the ensuing reshuffle in all European institutions will reshape the political landscape.

    In other words, this will set the stage for a tremendous amount of maneuvering for power among EU politicians, as each seeks to achieve dominant political control of Europe and Europeans going forward.   The populace will be further reduced to the level of serfs and pawns.

    In view of this, read more about the "Platform for Electro-mobility", by an alliance of 36 stakeholders   (i.e., another group vying for political power)   including car manufacturers, utilities, NGOs and trade federations.   The platform will be focusing in 2019 on advocating eMobility-friendly policies towards newly appointed civil servants and newly elected policy-makers.

    But before EU institutions shut down for the elections, current policy-makers are rushing to close a number of important transport-related pieces of legislation:

    Emission performance standards for cars and vans will be tightened.   (i.e., increased controls)   Just before Christmas, EU institutions informally agreed that CO2 emissions of new cars and vans should decrease by 15% by 2025 and 35% by 2030 (31% for vans).   The emissions of each OEM will be calculated based on the average emissions of the vehicles they sold during the previous year.   As a consequence, OEMs will have to sell   (i.e., quotas will be imposed - which will bankrupt some manufacturers and increase costs, meaning fewer people will be able to afford cars)   a sizeable number of plugin hybrids or pure electric vehicles to offset emissions from traditional vehicles.

    A similar law is under negotiations for trucks.   From 2025 onwards, new trucks would have to emit 15% less CO2 on average.   From 2030, they would have to emit 30% less CO2.   A consensus seems to be in reach between European policy-makers, and the law could be approved before the end of the legislature.

    Again - increasing the cost of living for all Europeans, and sending ever more of the population below the poverty line.

    Last but not least, the "clean vehicles directive" would mandate public authorities to buy a growing share of low and zero emission vehicles.   (so taxes will have to go up)   This would impact public transport operators the most.   As an example, under the current text supported by members of the European Parliament, 33% of new buses procured in Germany should be zero-emission from 2021 onwards, reaching 56% after 2025.   Negotiations are progressing slowly and it is unclear if a compromise will be reached between all EU institutions before the elections.


    Cybersecurity Act - mandatory testing for IT application to be expanded

    Security - but less and less freedom.   Political control uber alles.

    In December, EU institutions agreed on a law which will eventually lead to more mandatory   (and thereby increasing costs for everyone)   cybsersecurity testing in Europe.

    A major part of the so-called Cybersecurity Act is the establishment of Cybersecurity certification schemes for ICT products, services and processes.   The EU Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) will be tasked to prepare candidate schemes for specific groups of ICT products, processes and services, which can then be legally adopted by the European Commission.

    The schemes will be based on a comprehensive set of rules, technical requirements, standards and procedures and cover the full life cycle of products, services or processes.   Any certification scheme will be labelled with one of three sets of assurance levels depending on aspects such resilience to accidental or malicious data loss or alteration.   The three levels are: basic, substantial or high.

    Only for the assurance level "basic" will self-certification be possible, i.e., the manufacturer or ICT-provider declares having done all the necessary checks which ensure conformity.   For any ICT-application with higher assurance levels ("substantial" or "high"), third-party testing, in one form or another, is likely to be necessary in the future.

    As always, more and more controls in the name of "protection" from other people, but never more protection where it is needed the most - protection from the government.

    The Cybersecurity Act will formally enter into force in the first half of 2019, after which ENISA will start assessing and proposing certification schemes to the European Commission.


    10 December 2018

    Here is the December 2018 EU Update Report,
    from our good friend and favorite author in Europe


    Comments and references to our webpages have been added where relevant.


    How to decarbonize Europe by 2050 - European Commission roadmap

    The European Commission published on 28 November a strategy with proposals to reach 80-95% Greenhouse Gas reductions by 2050.   See the main elements of this strategy here, which will touch on virtually all sectors of economic activity, in particular energy, transport, buildings and industry.

    In other words, free-market economies - personal choices of how to spend your money - are to be replaced by the dictates of Socialist elitists.   The cost of living will go up, and those who are just above the economic borderline of being able to support themselves will sink into real poverty.   That will increase welfare-support costs, which will have to be paid for by higher taxes.   Europe's decline will continue.

    See our Climate change website to see why more CO2 is better, not worse.

    Two days before the publication, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic received the Roundtable for Europe's Energy Future, a group of European energy companies which want to drive the energy transition.   Claudio Facchin is chairing this group of companies, which includes ABB, Tennet, Statnett, RTE, APG, Mavir, Statkraft, National Grid, Elia and GE.   Claudio Facchin and his peers pointed out that the power grids will be in the center of this transition.   Planning has to start now across all sectors and stakeholders to strengthen and smarten the electricity grids within and across countries.


    Brexit agreement would avoid no-deal scenario in 2019, but leave future UK-EU relationship open

    On 25 November, all heads of the 27 remaining EU Member States unanimously approved the text (here) of a withdrawal agreement with the UK.   This text, which UK Prime Minister Theresa May's government had negotiated with the European Commission over the past months, sets the bare bones for the future UK-EU relationship, which however still needs to be negotiated.

    Crucially for business, this withdrawal agreement would trigger a transition period from Brexit Day (29 March 2019) until end 2020, during which all EU laws and rules would continue to apply to the UK, except that it would not be part of the EU Institutions (Commission, Parliament, Council) anymore.   This is an arrangement comparable to the relationship Norway currently has with the EU.   The transition period would end on 31 December 2020, but could be prolonged by one or two years.

    As a sort of red line for the yet-to-be-negotiated future UK-EU relationship (for which only a 36-page political declaration exists so far), the withdrawal agreement defines as "backstop" that the UK would remain in the EU customs union, if no future agreement is found.   In addition, Northern Ireland would remain in the EU single market for goods to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, one of the remaining 27 Member States.

    As it has to be decided by 1 July 2020 whether the UK wants to prolong the transition period, this date would be the new milestone by which an EU-UK agreement has to be negotiated.

    However, first of all the UK Parliament needs to approve the withdrawal agreement in a vote on 11 December.   If approved, negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship will start in earnest.   If not, the Brexit process would plunge into uncertainty and could still result in a hard Brexit on 29 March 2019, i.e., the UK leaving the EU without an agreement.


    Screening Foreign Direct investments - EU agrees on common framework

    On 20 November, EU institutions (Commission, Council, Parliament) reached an agreement on a framework for screening Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the EU.

    The agreement largely follows a law proposal (text here) by the European Commission from one year ago.   It will give the European Commission the possibility to screen FDI which are likely to affect projects of EU interest on the grounds of security or public order.   In addition it establishes a coordination mechanism among EU Member States when it comes to national screening of FDI.   While the definition of the terms "projects of EU interest", "security" and "public order" are open for interpretation, this regulation aims to complement various national FDI screening (and blocking) mechanisms, such as Germany's Aussenwirtschaftsgesetz.   De facto, Europe is following the US trend, where the authority of CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the US) was also recently expanded to enable stronger investment protectionism.

    In a press release (text here) welcoming the agreement on the screening mechanism, the European Trade Commissioner expressed the willingness "to protect critical technology and infrastructure in Europe".


    9 December 2018

    Europe's "new world order" in tatters


    2 December 2018

    Tax Riots in Paris


    3 November 2018

    So you think you want socialized medicine?   See it in action in Great Britain


    25 October 2018

    Free Speech in the EU - except when there is not


    13 October 2018

    Freedom in UK declines bite by bite - forcing pizza sellers on calories of pizzas
    "willing to do whatever it takes to keep children healthy and well in this country"

    Britain second-least free state in Europe


    10 October 2018

    Here is the October 2018 EU Update Report,
    from our good friend and favorite author in Europe


    Comments and references to our webpages have been added where relevant.

    EU's road to decarbonisation to become wider, and possibly steeper

    In line with the global agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris three years ago to keep global warming below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels, and preferably no higher than 1.5°C, the European Commission will publish a new strategy to curb EU emissions by 80-95% in 2050 compared to 1990.   This strategy is to be released ahead of the UN COP24 Climate Conference in the Polish town of Katowice in December.

    See our webpage on Debunking Climate Change for a general discussion on these issues.

    Also, if you read the (Kindle) book, Global Warming Skepticism for Busy People, by Climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer, you will learn that the measurements needed to ascertain human-induced climate change, as well as normal climate change, require more precision than is technologically possible.

    Even more interesting is the fact that CO2 gas is at historically low levels:   275 ppm (parts per million), and that plants literally starve at 200 parts per million.   Doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would yield trillions of dollars for agriculture due to increased plant growth.   Such an increase in CO2 would have no impact on animals and humans; CO2 is considered a "trace gas".   Twenty percent of the atmosphere is the oxygen we need, but only 0.0275 percent of the air is CO2.   Twice that is still infinitesimal.

    Finally, in 2001, the IPCC itself stated on page 78 of its Third Assessment Report, "The long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible." Additional quotes of a similar nature were also made.   No significant scientific breakthroughs have changed that status since; newer reports simply ignore those statements.


    The new strategy will come just months after the EU Institutions officially adopted into law a 40% greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030.   This, however, might not prove enough if the long term target is to be reached.   The European Commission might ask EU Member States to approve an increased 2030 target of 45%.   The dramatic urgency for action on climate change has just been underpinned by the latest report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which received a lot of attention by EU policymakers.

    This will result in lowered standards of living for the European populace.   Simple economics makes it clear tht using more expensive methods causes an increase in the cost of living.   An increase in poverty is inevitable, as is poorer quality of life for whatever remains of the middle class.

    All this forced change is due to a false understanding of climate change.   The result is going to be a general decline of Europe compared to China, the U.S., and elsewhere.


    Repercussions are already being felt on transport policy, see article below.   Besides transport, the heating (i.e., building) sector will "feel the heat" of decarbonisation policy in the future.

    Member States are divided, however.   central European member states, in particular, are opposed to more ambitious decarbonisation measures.   Business has started to positioning itself on the EU 2050 climate strategy.   A number of large European companies have submitted views to the official European Commission consultation.   So have a number of federations, such as T&D Europe or WindEurope.

    Hurrah for the central European member states!   Let us hope they stand their ground, and through their rejection of this policy, cause it to be rescinded.

    Who will be the next President of the European Commission?

    In about one year, the current European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, will step down and with him all European Commissioners, ending their 5-year term in office.   The European treaties say that the new President will then be chosen by heads of government of EU Member States at a European Council meeting, "taking into account the elections to the European Parliament".

    But the populace has no voice.   Nothing has changed since the days of Communism and Kings and Emperors.   Until the people have a total voice, in a republic - i.e., the rule of law - a constitutional law the populace creates through their own conventions, and not the edicts of "commissions", their lives are little different from those of serfs and peasants under the domination of the nobles in their manors.

    In view of these elections, to take place in May 2019, the big factions in the European Parliament are currently selecting their so-calles "Spitzenkandidat" (German for "lead candidate").   The Spitzenkandidat, who manages to gather a majority of seats in the European Parliament, is then understood to be chosen as the Commission President by EU heads of government.   It should be noted, however, that this is no legal automatism, so there is room for compromise candidates, especially if no clear parliamentary majority emerges.

    In other words, the noblemen are still the only ones selecting their king, and that they still think of the "lower class" - the serfs and peasants - as too ignorant to know better.   Europeans are still stuck in the Dark Ages - the primitive attitude of the rulers limits the progress of Europe's culture.

    The only parties who at this stage could hope for gathering a majority behind them in the European Parliament are the conservative European People's Party and the Alliance of Socialists & Democrats.   The parties will chose their official Spitzenkandidat in November and December, respectively.   The conservative candidates are Manfred Weber from Bavaria in Germany as well as former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb.   The contenders from the social democrats, so far, are Maros Sefcovic, currently European Commission Vice President for Energy, as well as former Dutch Foreign Minister and current Deputy to Jean-Claude Juncker in the European Commission, Frans Timmermans.

    Sweden is a sterotypical example of Europe's problem.   With a king who knows nothing of economics, and a parliament which, having stripped him of his power, retains that power while acting in his name, and his bankers, the Wallenbergs, who do likewise, Sweden is in decline and slowly descends into poverty.   The properity enjoyed in more capitalistic times is disappearing.   Despotic Socialism slowly eats away at Sweden's vitality, as it is also doing in the rest of Europe.

    EU measures to accelerate the shift to low-emission cars, vans and buses

    Making the decline in the standard of living even faster.

    On 9 October, EU Environment ministers agreed in Luxembourg on ambitious emission performance standards for cars and vans: manufacturers will have to reduce the CO2 emissions of their cars by 35% by 2030.   Compliance of OEMs will be assessed every year against the average emissions of their newly registered cars, a mechanism which will likely drive car manufacturers to add plug-in hybrids or pure electric vehicles to their offering to lower their average emissions.

    As noted above, higher CO2 quantities are a good thing - if it were even possible for human activity to have an impact.

    While this news attracted most media attention, another file was keeping members of the European Parliament busy in Brussels.   On 10 October, the Environment committee of the European Parliament adopted a proposal mandating public authorities to procure low-emission vehicles.   The so-called "Clean vehicles directive" would require public authorities such as local governments and city administrations - but also publicly owned companies, public transport companies and utilities - to buy a minimum share of clean vehicles (i.e., vehicles powered by biofuels, LPG, hydrogen, electricity including plugin hybrids).   Out of these clean vehicles, a certain share should be zero-emission.   As an example under this law, in Germany, at least 50% of new buses procured between 2020 and 2025 should be clean, 50% of which should be zero-emission.   After 2025, these figures would climb to 75% and 66% respectively.

    Increasing the cost of government operations.   Taxes will have to increase, worsening further the cost of living for Europeans.

    Meanwhile, European companies will be less competitive in the world marketplace, compounding the reduction in the cost of living for Europeans.


    A coordinated Platform exists for an electro-mobility advocacy campaign on this topic and the proposed zero-emission vehicles targets would benefit the electromobility industry, in particular the e-bus market.   Yet, this law proposal still requires the support and approval of environment ministers from EU Member States.   If Member States can agree on this text, final adoption is expected in the first half of 2019.

    Let us hope they never agree!

    Plea for free trade of electrical steel before the European Commission

    One company was granted an official hearing with the Trade Directorate of the European Commission on 13 September on electrical steel.   At issue is the manufacture of transformers, motors, generators,etc.   The case was argued for exempting electrical steel from EU "safeguard measures" aimed at preventing steel products hit by US steel tariffs to enter the EU at lower prices.

    While Grain Oriented Electrical Steel (GOES) for transformers has been so far exempted, the EU currently has a provisional quota in place for Non-Grain Oriented Electrical Steel (NGOES) for motors and generators, which has been in place since July 2018.   This means that imports of NGOES from anywhere in the world, exceeding a specific quota, will be subject to a 25% import tariff.

    In arguing the case, it was stated that the user industries of electrical steel generate substantially more growth and jobs than the producers of electrical steel in Europe.   In addition, high-quality motors, generators and transformers are needed for a more efficient energy system with less carbon emissions.   In particular, the expected massive uptake of electric cars in the coming years could require a big amount of NGOES.

    No separation of powers in Europe!   Separate and independent legislative, executive (enforcement), and judicial powers are contrary to Socialist control of the masses.

    Final EU decisions on safeguard measures are expected in the beginning of 2019.

    The "decision" is simple:   negotiate with President Trump to mutually roll back tariffs!   A level playing field is better for everyone!   Add to that eliminating restrictions, increasing freedoms, and fostering greater participation in the government for everybody, and Europe would be the economic powerhouse it should be.   "Make Europe Great Again!"

    Fortune magazine gets it:   MAGA makes possible Make the World Great Again.





    2 October 2018

    US stocks a better buy - Socialist EU cannot keep up


    27 September 2018

    Growth of populist, anti-global parties in Europe




    11 September 2018

    Here is the September 2018 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 2018 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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