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TTIP consultation welcome, but arbitrators must not decide on our laws – NGOs

Today’s long overdue announcement of a public consultation on investor-state dispute settlement in the EU-US free trade negotiations (dubbed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – TTIP) is welcomed but does not change the principle that arbitration should never judge the validity of laws, environmental groups European Environmental Bureau and Transport & Environment have said.

Fight to defend environment and consumer protection slows EU-US trade talks

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.

FQD - Fuel Quality Directive or Frequently and Quietly Delayed?

The Fuel Quality Directive (known in the Brussels bubble by the acronym FQD) is the missing link in the Barroso Commission's 2020 climate and energy package. This law aims to reduce the carbon intensity of Europe's transport fuels by 6% by 2020. But its real impact depends on its ‘implementing measures’. These measures rank different types of biofuels and fossil fuels based on their greenhouse gas emissions. They also set up rules requiring oil companies to report the carbon intensity of the fuel they supply. Because of fierce lobbying by oil companies and the Canadian government, the FQD remains unimplemented to this day. This timeline shows the delayed progress of the FQD.

Air pollution forces Paris number plate ban

A peak in air pollution brought a drastic change to transport habits in Paris for one day, following a combination of unseasonably hot weather and diesel cars fumes. No strangers to air pollution regularly exceeding EU limits, the authorities in the French capital banned all cars with even-numbered licence plates from entering the city on 17 March due to exceptionally high levels. The idea was to ban odd-numbered plates the next day, but that proved unnecessary as a 25% reduction in traffic and cooler weather brought pollution levels down.

Canada, Big Oil and the Frequently and Quietly Delayed FQD

It’s March 2014, and we still don’t have a functioning Fuel Quality Directive - the only European law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuel. After 1181 days of delay, the lack of so-called ‘implementing rules’ matters a lot. These rules will determine whether Europe’s oil companies will only blend in biofuels to reduce their emissions, or also look for the ‘cleanest’ possible fossil fuels - which are most certainly not tar sands, to name one example.

Request for Commission internal review on delay of Fuel Quality Directive proposal

Sketch of a book (default image for publications

The European Commission has delayed for years in proposing the implementing measures for article 7a of the Fuel Quality Directive - the only law that would lower emissions from transport fuels. This request for an internal review of the failure to submit a new proposal was sent to the Commission in January 2014 by Transport & Environment, Friends of the Earth Europe and Greenpeace. We are still waiting for a response. For more information on the Fuel Quality Directive and the delay - see our timeline.

New citizens’ tool in EU decision-making

The first-ever European ‘citizens’ 'initiative’ has set in train a process that could lead to changes in EU legislation, which in turn would establish the initiative as a democratic tool in the EU’s legislative process. The ‘Right2Water’ initiative was signed by almost 1.7 million EU citizens and presented to the Commission. The commissioners have now responded by announcing a public consultation, which could lead to changes in the EU’s drinking water directive.

Alternative fuel infrastructure deal is wasted opportunity for e-mobility

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.

MEPs fly in the face of bullying on EU aviation emissions trading

Members of the European Parliament’s environment committee today courageously voted against a bad deal on aviation emissions trading foisted on them by political leaders in the UK, France and Germany. The bad deal, reached during trilogue negotiations, would have scaled back the Commission’s proposal to regulate all aviation emissions in EU airspace, in favour of only covering flights between EU airports until 2016. This would have exempted long-haul flights from all regulation, even though they account for the bulk of EU emissions. CO2 emissions coverage would have been reduced by three quarters compared to the original scheme.

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