Monday

11th Nov 2019

Brussels to grant some concessions to industry in environment proposals

  • If international climate negotiations fail, Brussels will take 'appropriate measures' to protect European industry (Photo: European Commission)

Energy intensive industries have won some concessions from the European Commission when it comes to taking part in future legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Europe.

Following an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday (13-14 March) and the intervention of several member states – including economic powerhouse Germany – Brussels has offered safeguards to energy intensive industries such as steel and cement factories on its proposal to force them to buy rights to emit carbon dioxide by auction.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

If next year's international negotiations on a new climate change deal fail, then certain measures will kick into place, with industry in these sectors worried that they will lose their competitive advantage if forced to buy pollution rights when companies outside the EU continue to benefit from laxer environment rules.

Trade unions have also warned of severe job losses if European companies choose to relocate to avoid the EU's strict pollution rules.

"I am particularly happy with the solution for energy-intensive industry and carbon leakage," the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said after 27 EU leaders had wrapped up their traditional spring gathering.

The summit conclusions suggest that "appropriate measures" will be taken "if international negotiations fail." At the end of next year, governments will try and agree a new climate change agreement for after 2012, when the current Kyoto set-up runs out.

Energy intensive industries in Europe are to be offered two assurances should there fail to be a global agreement. They may get free pollution permits – instead of having to buy them by auction – linked to technological benchmarks, while the EU could also make foreign companies take part in the emissions trading system (ETS).

"This is a very credible response" to some EU states' and industries' fears, Mr Barroso said of the compromise.

However, the commission has refused to list concrete industries, which could possibly be subject to the safeguards. It argues it should reflect the outcome of international talks on climate change in December 2009, as it may result in a sectoral deal.

Energy intensive industry has been up in arms since Brussels in January proposed overhauling the ETS, seen as key to achieving the bloc's goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

Under the new-look system, EU member states will no longer be able to grant pollution permits to their companies. Instead, the national allocation plans would be replaced by auction.

EU leaders agreed, however, that "an international agreement remains the best way of addressing this issue" – something that should give the 27-nation bloc a better negotiating position at the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.

"The current system based on national caps of emissions did not provide enough guarantees" for achieving the overall 2020 goal, said Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

But he also mentioned concern over the possible relocation of EU companies to countries beyond the EU that could cause serious both social problems at home and a global rise in greenhouse gas emissions.

"This is a dual concern, so we need to pay specific attention to that," Mr Jansa said.

"An international agreement must provide equal conditions for all. Our industry, especially energy-intensive industry expects - and they are right in doing - that we will have a suitable solution."

EU and China agree to defend 'gastronomic jewels'

Manchego cheese, Panjin rice and Polish vodka will all be protected under a new EU-China agreeement. But the two trading giants continue to struggle over other trade-related deals.

News in Brief

  1. EU's climate contribution exceeds €20bn annually
  2. EU-Singapore trade deal enters into force this month
  3. Commission will not probe Borrell over Catalan tweet
  4. Frontex gets its European border police force
  5. EU Parliament loses funding case against Farage-led party
  6. US will not impose car tariffs, says Juncker
  7. Merkel disagrees with Macron on Nato
  8. Migrants in Malta transferred after EU deal

Opinion

Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. New hearings for the von der Leyen commission This WEEK
  2. Bosnia wants explanation for Macron's 'time-bomb' remark
  3. MEPs slam Commission over common charger delay
  4. Erdogan: refugees will enter Europe unless EU does more
  5. Cleaning up both the EU and Western Balkans
  6. Can Sunday's election end Spain's endless deadlock?
  7. Up to 750 European children trapped in north-east Syria
  8. EU and China agree to defend 'gastronomic jewels'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us