On 16 May 2012, the European Commission launched a consultation with the aim of obtaining stakeholders views in preparation for the mid-term review of the industrial policy flagship planned for September 2012. The responses will assist the Commission in identify policy priorities and develop appropriate policy responses in the September 2012 Communication. The industrial policy flagship, which forms part of the Europe 2020 Strategy, was launched in October 2010 and outlined a strategy for industrial competitiveness, sustainable economic growth and job creation.
On 22 May 2012, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement in ‘Trialogue’ on the proposal for a pilot phase of the Europe 2020 Project Bond Initiative, which was originally adopted in October 2011. This joint initiative between the EU and the European Investment Bank (EIB) will support the financing of commercially viable infrastructure projects in the area of transport, energy and communications infrastructure.
On 10 May 2012 the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Ecolabels cannot be imposed in public tenders. Nevertheless, the ruling indicates how a public authority may use sustainability criteria in tender procedures for public contracts by referring to the technical specifications defined by an ecolabel. The case was brought against the Netherlands by the European Commission (Case C-368/10), and relates to the inclusion of a reference to an ecolabel in a public tender contract, rather than the detailed specifications of the ecolabel in question.
On 11 May 2012, the European Concrete Platform (ECP), of which CEMBUREAU is a member, responded to a European Commission consultation in relation to financial support for the energy efficiency of buildings. In its response, the ECP highlighted that the most important barriers include the differences between costs and value, as well as a lack of information on the benefits of energy efficiency. In addition, it noted that there is a clear need to identify more financial support to assist individuals, in particular, in undertaking new projects.
On 8 May 2012 the European Commission launched its 2012 call for proposals in relation to eco-innovation. 34.8 million Euros have been allocated to this initiative, with the Commission providing up to 50% in co-funding to around 50 projects. The aim is to help bring novel environmental projects to the market and the call is open to eco-innovative products, techniques, services and processes which prevent or reduce environmental impacts, or which contribute to the optimal use of resources.
On 21 May 2012 the European Commission published the ECORYS Nederland BV study commissioned by DG Environment regarding the number of jobs dependent on the environment and resource efficiency improvements. The aim of this study is to identify how the greening of the economy can boost job creation. In general, the study shows that the number of ‘green jobs’ is on the increase, with case studies demonstrating that improving resource efficiency can lead to job creation.
On 24 May 2012 the European Parliament adopted, in plenary, MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy’s (Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the Netherlands) draft report on a resource-efficient Europe. This report outlines the Parliament’s position in relation to the European Commission’s Communication “Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe”. Although the report is positive for the cement industry in relation to waste issues in general, CEMBUREAU regrets that it remains in favour of shifting taxation from labour to resource use.
The European Commission has published the final report of the study conducted by Milieu for DG Enterprise entitled “Technical assistance related to the scope of REACHi and other relevant EU legislation to assess overlaps”. This report provides an analysis of potential overlaps with other legislation, concluding that the REACH Regulation has largely avoided overlaps. This is thanks to the internal mechanisms put in place to prevent such overlaps from occurring.
On 15 May 2012, an agreement was reached between the Council and the European Parliament on the revision of the Sulphur Directive (Directive 1999/32/EC) in relation to the sulphur content of marine fuels. Further to this, the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) endorsed the agreement on 23 May 2012. The aim of this Directive is to reduce emissions from shipping due to the combustion of marine fuels with a high sulphur content.
On 9 May 2012, the European Commission’s Implementing Decision in relation to the determination of start-up and shut-down periods for the purposes of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) was published in the Official Journal. This decision applies only to the combustion plants which are covered under Chapter III of the IED. In particular, it applies to large combustion plants, the total rated thermal input of which is equal to or greater than 50 MWth, irrespective of the type of fuel used.