Agriculture

 

All is not well beneath the surface of the global fertilizer industry

Amidst undulating prices and mixed newspaper headlines, 2019 has seen a number of shocks to the globally important but under-scrutinised fertilizer sector.  The industry has been hit by what is seen as mismanagement and poor decision making and has emerged as a target for questionable large-scale international practices. These developments have blighted the reputation of…

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EU Bans Neurotoxic Pesticides

Representatives from the European Member States in the EU Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCOPAFF) have voted to ban the neurotoxic pesticides chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl from the EU market, a historic move that has been applauded by health and environment groups. Genon K. Jensen, Executive Director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL),…

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New Plant Health Rules Come Into Effect

New rules on plant health, designed to stop diseases spreading or jumping borders, will become effective on Saturday. The EU Regulation 2016/2031 on protective measures against plant pests was steered through the European Parliament by UK member Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands. It became law in December 2016 and is directly applicable…

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Digital Market

 

Digitalisation in the Financial Sector

The Commission has launched two public consultations on digitalisation in the financial sector.  The first consultation seeks views on the suitability of the existing regulatory framework for crypto-assets including “stablecoins”.  The second one asks for feedback on how the existing legislative framework can be improved to ensure that the financial sector can deal with cyber-attacks…

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Digitalisation of Transport of Goods

The European Parliament, Member States and the European Commission have reached a deal on the Electronic Freight Transport Information (EFTI) proposal late yesterday.  The new law will speed up the digitalisation of the transport of goods by creating an e-platform where businesses and authorities can digitally exchange information on road operations. “We laid down the foundations…

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AI Needs Human Face

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is adopting a firm stance on artificial intelligence and has insisted, at a high-level conference held in Helsinki on 21 November that the digital revolution must have a human face, be inclusive and bring benefits for all Europeans. Artificial intelligence and the digital transformation must be inclusive and…

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Economy

 

Why Lebanon Deserves International Support

The news from Lebanon in recent weeks has been grim. As street protests in Beirut and other cities intensify, so does the country’s economic suffering, writes Charles Tannock. A political, economic, and social crisis has taken hold, leading to hard-currency shortages that hinder imports of vital daily commodities such as wheat, medicine, and fuel. Moreover,…

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Wealth Effects of WTO Membership

A new report says that the USA, China and Germany are the countries that benefit the most worldwide from their accession to the WTO. They achieve by far the largest income gains, which are directly attributable to their membership in the trade organization.  For the United States, income gains amount to about 87 billion US…

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New MFA Programme for Jordan

The European Commission has welcomed the endorsement by the Council of the agreement reached with the European Parliament to provide up to €500 million in Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) to Jordan. This new financial assistance programme is designed to support the country’s ambitious reform agenda, promoting jobs, growth and investment for the benefit of the people of Jordan….

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Energy

 

Green Deal: No More Investment in Fossil Fuels

Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the Green Deal, visited the premises of the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg yesterday where he addressed the EIB staff. The commission said that to achieve the ambition set by the Green Deal there are significant investment needs.  “We will only be able to meet these investment needs if we mobilise both the public and…

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Climate Change Performance

According to the climate change performance index (CCPI) published today at the climate summit COP25 in Madrid, the EU lost six ranks due to its failure to increase its 2030 climate target.  The CCPI which is published by Germanwatch, the New Climate Institute and the Climate Action Network (CAN) evaluates the efforts of 57 countries and the…

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Ukraine’s Nuclear scientists accuse Minister Orzhel of forcing Ukraine’s energy dependence on Russia

Ukraine’s Nuclear Power trade unions show no signs of reducing their protests in Kyiv, and are continuing to demand the resignation of Energy Minister Oleksiy Orzhel and the creation of a new body that controls the nuclear industry. There is a blistering attack and rebuttal on the Energoatom website on the false news published by…

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Environment

 

Calls for the EU and UK to tackle MMVF health risks in 2020

In a year that will have a packed agenda, calls are being made for the health risks of Man-made Vitreous Fibres (MMVF), also known as mineral wool, to be prioritised, both by the European Union and the UK post-Brexit. MMVF is used for thermal and acoustic insulation in homes and businesses. Since asbestos was banned…

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Etihad Ecoflight to Brussels

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, yesterday operated a special ‘eco-flight’ from Abu Dhabi to Brussels, featuring a range of initiatives designed to illustrate the airline’s broad commitment to sustainable practices in the air and on the ground. Flight EY 57, which arrived in Brussels at 7.00am, was operated with a…

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EU Climate Neutral By 2050

The European Union says it is committed to becoming the first climate-neutral bloc in the world by 2050.  This requires significant investment from both the EU and the national public sector, as well as the private sector, it says. The European Green Deal’s Investment Plan – the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan – presented today will mobilise…

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Healthcare

 

Calls for the EU and UK to tackle MMVF health risks in 2020

In a year that will have a packed agenda, calls are being made for the health risks of Man-made Vitreous Fibres (MMVF), also known as mineral wool, to be prioritised, both by the European Union and the UK post-Brexit. MMVF is used for thermal and acoustic insulation in homes and businesses. Since asbestos was banned…

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Agreement Reached on Drinking Water Directive

The Commission says it welcomes the provisional agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council on the recast Drinking Water Directive.  The agreement is based on the proposal adopted by the Commission in February 2018, as a direct follow-up to the Right2Water European Citizens’ Initiative. It aims to improve the quality of drinking water and access…

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Audit of Public Health Services in the EU

An overview of how auditors across the European Union scrutinise public health has been published today by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) on behalf of the Contact Committee of EU supreme audit institutions (SAIs). Altogether 24 SAIs have contributed to this second Audit Compendium of the Contact Committee. Public health is mainly the responsibility…

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Investment

 

Modernisation of Grupo Ruiz

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is set to finance the modernisation of Grupo Ruiz’s bus fleet by facilitating €27.5 million for the introduction of 173 safer, less polluting and more modern vehicles.  EIB Vice-President Emma Navarro and Grupo Ruiz CEO Gregorio Ruiz signed the agreement in Madrid. The project is supported by the European Fund…

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EU Business Pessimistic about Economic Outlook

European firms are becoming increasingly pessimistic about the economic outlook according to the new EIB report. The report also finds that investment in climate change mitigation is lower than that of major economies like the US and China.  Infrastructure investment is stuck at 1.6% of EU GDP, the lowest in 15 years and Europe is…

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Future of the Capital Markets Union

The European Commission has announced the composition of a High-Level Forum on the future of the Capital Markets Union (CMU).  This group of experts will provide insight and support the Commission’s goal to develop further a Capital Markets Union encompassing all Member States, so they can mobilise capital for businesses, offer better investment opportunities and boost economic…

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Law and Justice

 

Spain condemned over its human rights record

Concern has been voiced over Spain’s human rights record, in particular “unfair” detention conditions and extensive pre-trial detention of suspects, during the Universal Periodic Review of Spain at the UN in Geneva on 22 January.  The EU member state has been accused of “failing to abide” by international standards concerning fair trials.  During the plenary…

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Inside Romania’s prisons: Masked intervention groups, overcrowding and violence

Romania’s prison conditions are of great concern to the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), as detailed by their report.  The conditions discovered by the CPT team fall far below expected European standards for the treatment of prisoners and include attacks by masked intervention…

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EP Votes Resolution on Hungary and Poland

Parliament has debated the situation in Hungary and Poland as both countries continue to push the boundaries when it comes to undermining the rule of law, democracy, and fundamental rights. In the resolution that will be voted on this week, the S&D Group is sending a reminder that member states must respect the primacy of EU law…

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Trade

 

Protecting the EU’s IP

The European Commission published today the latest report on protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in third countries. While developments have taken place since the publication of the previous report, concerns persist and a number of areas for improvement and action remain to be addressed. Intellectual property rights infringements worldwide cost European firms…

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Wealth Effects of WTO Membership

A new report says that the USA, China and Germany are the countries that benefit the most worldwide from their accession to the WTO. They achieve by far the largest income gains, which are directly attributable to their membership in the trade organization.  For the United States, income gains amount to about 87 billion US…

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Russia: EU prolongs economic sanctions by six months

Today, the Council prolonged the economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy until 31 July 2020. This decision follows an update by President Macron and Chancellor Merkel to the European Council on 12 December 2019 on the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which the decision on maintaining sanctions is linked. Given that the…

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Transport

 

Etihad Ecoflight to Brussels

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, yesterday operated a special ‘eco-flight’ from Abu Dhabi to Brussels, featuring a range of initiatives designed to illustrate the airline’s broad commitment to sustainable practices in the air and on the ground. Flight EY 57, which arrived in Brussels at 7.00am, was operated with a…

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Shooting Down Ukrainian Flight PS572: What Do We Need To Know?

Iran has undoubtedly left many impressed with their guilty plea over the missile hit that downed the Ukrainian passenger jet flight PS752. But there remains a certain feeling of unwholesomeness as if something is missing from the official reports, writes Max Uran. What if Tehran’s true intentions are not about opting for a worthy and…

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Modernisation of Grupo Ruiz

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is set to finance the modernisation of Grupo Ruiz’s bus fleet by facilitating €27.5 million for the introduction of 173 safer, less polluting and more modern vehicles.  EIB Vice-President Emma Navarro and Grupo Ruiz CEO Gregorio Ruiz signed the agreement in Madrid. The project is supported by the European Fund…

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Technology

 

Huawei: 2020 ‘make or break’ for EU 5G leadership

2020 will see 5G gather speed across Europe. For successful deployment, an inclusive and facts-based approach will be key, according to a debate held in Brussels on 16th January at Huawei’s Cybersecurity Centre in Brussels. The participants discussed how policymakers, operators and technology providers can get Europe on track towards speedy and inclusive 5G deployment….

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ESA-EDA Cooperation

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Defence Agency (EDA) are embarking on new cooperative projects for exploring unknown and potentially hazardous environments: harnessing drones for the monitoring of disaster-stricken regions or toxic spill sites and making use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to navigate across the surface of asteroids or other terra incognita. These…

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OCEAN2020 Launches First Sea Demonstration

The OCEAN2020 project, managed by a 42 partner consortium from 15 EU countries, has successfully launched its first sea demonstration in the Gulf of Taranto, Italy.  The OCEAN2020 Live Sea Demonstration involves a total of 9 unmanned assets and six naval units from Italy, Spain, Greece and France.  The deployment of manned and unmanned systems,…

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