The EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht has ordered a public consultation on a legal clause in the emerging EU-US trade agreement that campaigners say could undermine environmental and consumer protection. The legal provision, known as ‘investor-state dispute settlement’, would give companies the right to take legal action against governments if they feel their investment potential or profits are being hindered by regulatory or policy changes at national level. What’s more, such disputes would be judged by special panels made up of people acceptable to business interests, and bypass national laws.
The European Parliament and Member States, concluding final negotiations today on the new fuel infrastructure law, failed to set-out a clear pathway for a low-carbon European transport network. Transport & Environment expresses disappointment at this wasted opportunity, which contains no binding targets for low-carbon charging infrastructure and does little to help a transition towards sustainable e-mobility.
Last week saw Europe extend its dirtiest subsidy, the one that makes ultra-cheap air tickets possible, by at least another decade. That’s the simplest way to sum up new rules for state aid to regional airports and airlines. The text itself is, as usual, almost impossible to read for lay people, so in this piece I will try to paint the rules and their consequences as simply as possible.
State subsidies for regional airports and airlines serving them – mainly the low-cost airlines – will be allowed to continue for at least another 10 years, according to the Commission’s finalised guidelines on state aid for airports. The revised guidelines, which cannot now be challenged by MEPs, are ostensibly aimed at streamlining and tightening state aid for airports.
Europe has a significant untapped potential for converting wastes from farming, forestry, industry and households to advanced low-carbon biofuels, but only if it sets a strong sustainability framework and ambitious decarbonisation targets for transport fuels in 2030, finds a new report entitled “Wasted: Europe’s Untapped Resource”.
This letter was first published by the Financial Times on February 19 2014. Sir, it is lazy of the Financial Times to brand critics of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership as “antitrade campaigners” (“No time to waste on transatlantic trade”, editorial, February 17). Two examples should suffice to illustrate that the controversy around TTIP is not so much about trade as about legitimacy and democracy.
Aviation is the most carbon intensive transport mode, yet European member states exempt airlines from fuel tax and airline tickets completely from VAT. Now, with its aviation state aid guidelines, the Commission has decided to open the floodgates and expand operating aid to airports in an effort to boost their turnover.
The European Commission today published its final guidelines on state aid for aviation, which will allow regional airports and the airlines serving them to keep receiving subsidies worth an estimated €2-3 billion a year.
MEPs this week voted to approve rail reforms that would harmonise technical specifications and create a single EU-wide authorisation procedure for rail stock. However, the European Parliament diluted the Commission’s proposal to more clearly separate companies that run rail infrastructure from those that provide freight and passenger services, reversing a previous position by its transport committee.
This study, by consultancy CE Delft, concludes that advanced fuel and emissions monitoring of large ships could help save owners and operators up to €9 million per year. These savings would come from the lower operational costs of using automated systems such as fuel flow meters or continuous emissions monitoring, which would monitor, report and verify ship emissions and fuel-burn more efficiently.