1.1. Commission asks Member States to provide important information in the fight against climate change
12 October 2006
The European Commission has decided to open or continue infringement proceedings against a number of Member States for failing to provide important information that is required as part of the EU’s efforts to combat climate change. The Commission is taking Luxembourg to the European Court of Justice for not providing sufficient information on its policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and on its projected future emissions. Seven Member States are to receive warnings for not communicating important technical information relating to their emission targets, while 8 Member States are being sent first warnings for failing to submit national allocation plans under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "Reliable reporting by Member States is a crucial part of our efforts to win the battle against climate change. I expect the Member States concerned will submit their second phase national allocation plans and the other missing information as soon as possible. To give certainty to the emissions trading market it is important that the national allocation processes are finalised well before the start of the next trading period beginning in January 2008."
Reporting on policies and measures and emission projections
The Commission is taking Luxembourg to the European Court of Justice for failing to communicate the policies and measures it is implementing to address climate change and its projections of future greenhouse gas emissions.
This information is needed from Member States so that the Commission can assess current and projected EU progress towards meeting the Kyoto Protocol emission targets. Under the EU Decision on a monitoring mechanism for greenhouse gas emissions, Member States were required to provide the information by 15 March 2005 . Despite warnings from the Commission, Luxembourg has provided no information. The Commission has therefore decided to go to court.
‘Assigned amount’ reports
Seven Member States have not provided a complete set of important technical information that is needed for establishing their permitted emission level in tonnes – their ‘assigned amount’ – under the Kyoto Protocol.
A Commission Decision on a monitoring mechanism for greenhouse gas emissions required EU-15 Member States to provide this information by 15 January 2006 and EU-10 Member States by 15 June 2006 .
France , Estonia , Greece , Lithuania and Poland will receive first warning letters. Germany and Luxembourg already received first warning letters in April 2006 and will now receive final warning letters.
In their assigned amount reports, Member States needed to report, among other things, their annual emissions of greenhouse gases and the sources of these since their base year, the base year they have selected for measuring changes in their emissions of fluorinated gases, and what they propose their assigned amount should be on the basis of methodologies established under the Kyoto Protocol.
National allocation plans
The Commission is sending first warning letters to 8 Member States for failing to submit national allocation plans (NAPs) for the second trading period of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. The deadline for doing so was 30 June 2006 and is laid down in the Emissions Trading Directive.
The Member States concerned are Austria , Czech Republic , Denmark , Hungary , Italy , Portugal , Slovenia and Spain . These Member States are known to be developing their NAPs but they have yet to send them to the Commission.
In NAPs governments fix the total number of emission allowances – putting a ‘cap’ on total emissions – and allocate them to individual installations covered by the ETS. This cap makes the NAPs for 2008-2012 an important element in Member States’ strategies for achieving their emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol, which have to be met during the same period.
Once Member States submit complete NAPs the Commission has three months to assess them. The Commission attaches a high priority to taking its decisions on all NAPs by the end of this year so that conditions for trading in 2008-2012 are established and known by market operators in good time before the next trading period starts on 1 January 2008 . This requires those Member States that have not yet done so to submit their NAPs as soon as possible.
Article 226 of the Treaty gives the Commission powers to take legal action against a Member State that is not respecting its obligations.
If the Commission considers that there may be an infringement of EU law that warrants the opening of an infringement procedure, it addresses a "Letter of Formal Notice" (first written warning) to the Member State concerned, requesting it to submit its observations by a specified date, usually two months.
In the light of the reply or absence of a reply from the Member State concerned, the Commission may decide to address a "Reasoned Opinion" (final written warning) to the Member State . This clearly and definitively sets out the reasons why it considers there to have been an infringement of EU law, and calls upon the Member State to comply within a specified period, usually two months.
If the Member State fails to comply with the Reasoned Opinion, the Commission may decide to bring the case before the Court of Justice. Where the Court of Justice finds that the Treaty has been infringed, the offending Member State is required to take the measures necessary to conform.
For current statistics on infringements in general see: http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/eulaw/index_en.htm#infractions.
1.2. EU moots border tax to offset costs of climate action
10 October 2006
In Short: A paper drafted for the Commission suggests taxing goods imported from countries that do not impose a CO2 cap on their industry as a way to compensate for the costs of climate- change measures.
Background: The emissions-trading scheme (ETS) places a cap on CO2 emissions from large industrial plants and allows them to exchange their potential surplus on an EU-wide ‘carbon’ market. Companies exceeding their target can buy excess allowances from greener ones who end up being rewarded for cutting emissions of global warming gases.
Industries currently covered are electricity generation