European Law Monitor

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New Eurobarometer report shows only 10% of Europeans believe the effectiveness of European administration to be satisfactory.

Results from a special Eurobarometer survey commissioned by the European parliament and ombudsman on citizens rights and the performance of the EU administration, which took place between February and March this year, would have made very uncomfortable reading for the politicians and officials in the European institutions.

North Korea's Food Hunger Crisis

 Facing the worst year of food production in recent times, the hunger disaster in North Korea appears only to be worsening. With over half a million people at risk from dying from severe malnutrition, the most vulnerable being children under five, pregnant women and the elderly.

newsNew rights for passengers travelling by water

From now on passengers travelling by sea and by inland waterways will enjoy a whole new set of rights, which will complement existing rights for air and rail passengers.

The new rights for passengers travelling by sea and by inland waterways include amongst others:

  • guarantee of reimbursement or re-routing in situations of cancellation or of delay at departure of more than 90 minutes;
  • adequate assistance (such as snacks, meals, refreshments and, where necessary, accommodation up to three nights, with a financial coverage up to €80 per night) in situations of cancellation or delay at departure of more than 90 minutes;
  • compensation, between 25% and 50% of the ticket price, in situations of delay in arrival or cancellation of journeys;
  • non-discriminatory treatment and specific assistance free of charge for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility both at port terminals and on board ships, as well financial compensation for loss or damage of their mobility equipment;
  • minimum rules on information for all passengers before and during their journey, as well as general information about their rights in terminals and on board ships;
  • establishment by carriers and terminal operators of complaint handling mechanism available to passengers;
  • establishment of independent national bodies for the enforcement of the regulation, through, where appropriate, the application of penalties.

Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "People are entitled to enjoy the same levels of quality and safety wherever they travel within the European Union. I am very glad that after introducing rights for air and rail passengers, we are now also able to introduce similar rights for passengers travelling by water."

The regulation on new rights for people travelling by sea and by inland waterways will enter into effect at the end of 2012.

To find out more about passenger rights in all modes of transport, see

http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passenger-rights/

For more information contact—European Law Monitor at admin@europeanlawmonitor.org

European Law Monitor

European Law Monitor is a non-political, not-for-profit, EU information service that provides citizens and organisations across Europe with information on the European Union.

Europe Direct Relay for Hampshire

European Law Monitor hosts the Europe Direct Relay for Hampshire, a drop-in information centre for local citizens to find out more about the EU, its strategies and policies.
REF: ELM 25th November 2010

newsGuidelines to reconcile wind energy development and biodiversity policy

The European Commission has issued guidelines aimed at avoiding conflict between wind energy development and biodiversity conservation in Natura 2000 protected areas.

Natura 2000 is an EU-wide ecological network of nearly 26 000 sites in the 27 EU countries, established under the 1992 Habitats Directive and covering almost 18% of the EU’s land area.

The aim of the network is to assure the conservation and sustainable use of areas of high biodiversity value and long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats.

Natura 2000 is not a system of strict nature reserves where all human activities are excluded. Whereas the network will certainly include nature reserves, most of the land is likely to continue to be privately-owned and therefore some of these sites may be put forward as possible sites of wind farms. Europe has set itself a target of obtaining 20% of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020, and wind energy is destined to make a significant contribution to achieving that goal.

While in general terms wind energy does not represent a threat to wildlife, poorly sited or designed wind farms can have a negative impact on vulnerable species and habitats.

Therefore, as the demand for wind energy increases, there are likely to be an increasing number of conflicts between renewable energy policy and biodiversity policy, and this is why the European Commission has issued these guidelines, which aim to provide guidance on how best to reconcile these two EU objectives.

These guidelines highlight the importance of strategic planning and the need for good quality appropriate assessment of new developments. The guidelines also help show how wind energy developments can avoid damage to nature sensitive areas.

Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment said: “These new guidelines will give Member States and industry clarity regarding the undertaking of wind energy development activities in accordance with Natura 2000 requirements. There is no change of legislation or policy, but merely guidance on existing law. Our aim is to ensure that renewable energy targets are met while fully respecting EU law on species protection."

Guidance on wind energy and Natura 2000

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/management/guidance_en.htm

EU nature and biodiversity Policy

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/index_en.htm

EU Wind energy policy

http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/wind_energy/wind_energy_en.htm

For more information contact—European Law Monitor at admin@europeanlawmonitor.org

European Law Monitor

European Law Monitor is a non-political, not-for-profit, EU information service that provides citizens and organisations across Europe with information on the European Union.

Europe Direct Relay for Hampshire

European Law Monitor hosts the Europe Direct Relay for Hampshire, a drop-in information centre for local citizens to find out more about the EU, its strategies and policies.

REF: ELM 29th October 2010

newsPakistan: the EU humanitarian response to the monsoon flooding

Following the worst monsoon floods in living memory, Pakistan is facing a humanitarian disaster on a massive and unimaginable scale. In response, Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, flew to Islamabad to meet with the authorities and to visit  for herself some of the stricken areas.

The effects of this natural disaster have been compounded by the ongoing conflict in Pakistan as military operations continue to displace people. Many people have been impacted twice, first by the conflict and then by the floods, thereby drastically increasing their vulnerability.

EU funding is already being used on the ground to provide emergency shelter to millions of people who have been displaced and whose homes have been damaged or destroyed. It is also helping to provide food assistance, access to health services and water and sanitation facilities.

Shelter: Following the evacuation and migration of the flood affected populations, demand for emergency shelters such as tents, have intensified rapidly, and these needs cannot be met from local stocks. Assessments are ongoing to establish how much will be required.

Food assistance: Crops and food stocks have been destroyed by the floods  and as a consequence the UN and relief agencies estimate that around six million people will need food assistance over the next three months.

Access to health services: In some locations, health facilities and medicines stocks have been damaged or destroyed by the floods. Flood-related health problems are on the rise; with reports of increased incidence of watery diarrhoea, scabies (skin diseases), acute respiratory tract infections, malaria, dengue fever, and cholera. Cholera and diarrhoea centres are being established.

Water and sanitation facilities: Floods have contaminated and damaged water sources (springs and tube wells), depriving the population of clean drinking water, and these need to be repaired as a matter of urgency.

The funding provided by the EU will cover all these needs, as well as providing non-food items (blankets, hygiene sets, etc), psychological support, emergency communication, livelihood support and protection.

The EU Civil Protection Response

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated responding to Pakistan's request for assistance from the international community. The Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) within ECHO is in contact with the 31 countries participating in the European Civil Protection Mechanism.

Many participating states have offered in-kind assistance supported through the Mechanism. Items such as water purification tablets, emergency health kits, hygiene kits, tents, mats, water tanks, water cans, generators and other relief items have been provided and more is arriving.

The total European Union response to the crisis totals over €200 million to date, with further pledges in the pipeline.

For more information contact—European Law Monitor-Europe Direct at admin@europeanlawmonitor.org

REF: ELM 23rd August 2010

newsLook out for new Euro-leaf Symbol

Designed by German student Dusan Milenkovic, the new organic food logo, nicknamed the “Euro-leaf”  came  into force on the 1st July 2010. The Euro-leaf aims to ensure customer confidence that the origins and quality of the food and drink they are buying complies with the EU organic farming regulations. It is compulsory for organic pre-packaged food products within the European union and possible to use on a voluntary basis for non pre packaged food that is produced within the EU or any organic food imported from third countries.

Organic food can best be described as food grown without most artificial fertilisers or pesticides and in a way that emphasises crop rotation, making the most of natural fertilisers and ensuring the life of the soil is maintained. Animals are also kept in ways which minimise the need for chemicals and other medicinal treatment. It is big business as the awareness and importance of healthy living is growing, so is the popularity of organic food products and it has become a multi-million pound industry.

Having symbols like the Euro-leaf to prove an items authenticity is very important as many companies aim that their products are organic when they are not genuine. In 2009 a man was jailed for over 2 years, after selling “organic food products” which where nothing of the sort. The five year scam netted over a colossal £500,000. It was all too simple to do, buying non-organic food from supermarkets, then just re-packing them and selling them to the public.
 This is just an example of a widespread problem, in March 2011 an investigation into organic food products being sold in Britain found that one in every six “fresh, handmade and organic” food products were fake. The maximum penalty for misleading customers is six months imprisonment or a £5,000 fine.

Every genuine organic producer of processor is inspected once a year by the certification body they are with (there are 10 in total) another 10% of are checked by the UKROFS (United Kingdom Register of Organic Food Standards) is to make sure that the inspection carried out by the certification body has been completed to the correct standards.

The ten certification companies are Defra, OF&G, SOPA, OFF, SA  Cert, BDAA, IOFGA, Food Certification Scotland, Organic Trust Ltd and Cmi Certification. All of these bodies conform to the standards laid down by the EU. The Soil Association Certification Ltd (SA  Cert) are the largest certification body, certifying over 80%.

The SA itself, is a charity registered in 1946 and also works in certifying products as organic, does research and makes reports on them to further increase awareness and also sets the “benchmarks” for organic food production, packaging, animal welfare, wildlife conservation, residues and additives.

For more information on the Soil Association

http://www.soilassociation.org/

For more information contact—European Law Monitor at admin@europeanlawmonitor.org

REF: ELM 1st July 2010