The Green Alliance, a leading environmental think tank in the UK has recently published “unlocking a low-carbon Europe“, an excellent collection of articles about a climate-friendly budget for the EU. I had the chance to contribute with my article “Winning the Budget Battles” lining out (institutional) strategies to achieve a more friendly outcome for our climate.
Reform of the EU budget matters deeply for the pursuit of the low-carbon economy. For there is arguably no policy lever as important as the EU budget for setting the direction of EU action. While the size of the budget remains close to just one per cent of EU’s Gross National Income, it has the ability to lever additional spending by member states and the private sector. However, it is perhaps its political value that is of most influence. For the way in which the EU spends its resources is the primary indicator of its political priorities and its institutional ability to organise their pursuit.
This collection of viewpoints from diverse businesses and NGOs, social organisations and think tanks, addresses the political challenge of acting on these two priority areas of climate change and the reform of the EU budget Continue reading →
It must be for more than two months by now that a prominenently parked hydrogen BMW (“Clean Energy”) is standing at the main entrance of the European Parliament on Rue Wiertz. For security reasons not even bikes are allowed to be “parked” there normally, but for dear Bavarian car-maker BMW (read: Bayerische Motoren Werke) exceptions are nothing but expected. Now my first thought was that Parliament’s President “HGP” is simply keeping the new and extra car (besides his two official cars) close to his belt, but no. This BMW must be the third (car) in the fleet for our very mobile President – note his extensive travelling in the Middle East. Given the current energy price volatility the President is most likely acting in best intentions though. If he cannot broker peace in the Middle East during this summer, he might consider that future oil consumption of his car fleet could be better met by introducing a much less oil-dependent technology – such as hydrogen.
You cannot really miss the commercial space on the bling-bling BMW’s side (see picture) indicating that this car is not only to keep pace with this other (EU) President, bling-bling Sarkozy, but might actually follow a new energy philosophy by the high house and its present ruler HGP.
Hydrogen. Hm. Sounds like renewable energies and Green and water and … Hey, but wait. The thing about hydrogen-powered Continue reading →
Eon’s announcement last week to sell its grid was a massive blow in the face of the German government. Now German consumer groups and SPD MPs demand that “the state” should buy Eon’s grid in order to avoid Gazprom and alikes to buy themselves into the German market.
I think that the EU should float a massive investment vehicle together with the EIB and take over the energy grid inside the EU step-by-step. Then a European regulator could put fair prices and oversee sustainable investment into the grid. Such an approach of creating European public goods besides modern developments (e.g. Galileo) would best fit where the EU has its policy competences in any case. – It is clear that energy will remain as one of the core challenges over years to come and the Commission can create free and fair market conditions only if it gains direct access on regulation and investment. – In addition to breaking the European oligopoly market (= better prices for industry and consuemers) this should be of additional help to less well-off member states who can expect a serious investment in their grid infrastructure thanks to EU and EIB funds.
Now such a project would be a bold step for a bold Commission!