links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

BelgiumNetherlandsLuxembourg
Netherlands

 
Belgium:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The info in our title, as based on reporting of the NYT on line, is tempered by our info as provided by the Austrian OERF:
orf.at/stories/2250813/2250848/ that informs us that there was no general enthusiasm with this compromise agreement that called for bringing down energy savings only by 27% – as compared to 1990 – from the anticipated 30%. Those that are in the 60% range as compared to the 50% average in the emitters’ list – will be helped free from a stash of 400,000 of certificates that result from an emissions trading system. The Austrians remark that this will help Poland that might continue to pollute..

Also before the Copenhagen COP 15 the EU had prepared a program of its membership but then found out that they were not able to get an agreement of the other major emitters. Thus the renewed effort must now watch how China, the US, India, Brazil, Japan, Australia will react.

———————————————————–

European Leaders Agree on Targets to Fight Climate Change.

By JAMES KANTEROCT. 23, 2014

BRUSSELS — The 28 leaders of the European Union agreed early on Friday on targets for protecting the climate and generating greener power despite deep divisions among their nations over how to produce energy.

The main target that won approval was a pledge to slash emissions by at least 40 percent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2030.

The new target “will ensure that Europe will be an important player, will be an important party, in future binding commitments of an international climate agreement,” Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said at an early-morning news conference.

The accord makes the European Union the first major global emitter to put its position on the table ahead of an important United Nations climate meeting in Paris at the end of 2015.

“Deal!” Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, the body that represents European Union leaders, wrote on his Twitter account. “World’s most ambitious, cost-effective” climate policy agreed on, he wrote.

Related Coverage

For E.U. Climate Meeting, Deep Divisions and High Stakes OCT. 21, 2014
Goats grazing near wind turbines in Fantanele and Cogealac villages, Romania.
Europe, Facing Economic Pain, May Ease Climate Rules JAN. 22, 2014

Hopes are rising in Europe — as they were five years ago ahead of a failed United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen — for a global agreement next year in Paris that would oblige other parts of the world, like China and the United States, to do more to share the burden limiting the warming of the planet to under two degrees Celsius.


While most European Union states agree on lessening their energy dependence on countries outside the bloc, like Russia, cooperation is extremely hard because of sharply conflicting energy choices in Europe.

The pledge to cut emissions by 40 percent would eventually come with legally binding targets for each of the bloc’s member countries to share the burden equitably.

The bloc also agreed on a target of generating at least 27 percent of its energy from renewable sources, a goal that will be binding at the European Union level but not the national level. A separate target for improving energy efficiency by at least 27 percent was “indicative” only, meaning it would not be binding even at the bloc level. Both of those targets raised questions about their enforceability.

Curbing the emissions that contribute to a changing climate has long been a popular cause in Europe. Policy makers here frequently highlight how their industries and citizens emit lower levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide than those of the United States and other industrialized countries. But there is not the same enthusiasm in Europe to embrace the green agenda as there was five years ago, before the climate conference in Copenhagen that ended in failure.

The protracted downturn in Europe set off by the sovereign debt crisis has crimped funding for green projects. Also, the takeoff of technologies to tap cheap shale gas — despite the highly uncertain future of that industry in Europe, where the technology is unpopular — has dented prospects for some renewable alternatives. { THIS LINE IS NOT CLEAR – THE WRITER OUGHT TO KNOW THAT FOSSIL GAS AND OIL RESULTING FROM FRAKING ARE NOT RENEWABLES – THOUGH THEY ARE AN ALTERNATIVE TO IMPORTED OIL AND GAS }

Another factor adding to the complexity of developing strategies to cut emissions in Europe is the disaster at Fukushima, Japan, where an earthquake and a tsunami in 2011 led to meltdowns at a nuclear plant. Germany has since stepped up its phaseout of nuclear technology even though it emits almost zero planet-warming gases.

Also hanging over the summit meeting was the standoff between the Europeans and Russia over its annexation of Crimea and destabilization of Ukraine.

For Poland, reliance on highly polluting coal is seen as a defense against the need to switch to natural gas, a resource that the government in Moscow has already used as a political weapon by cutting supplies, and a source of employment for the mining industry. But Poland’s stance put it at odds with countries like Sweden and Germany that were seeking far-reaching targets on energy efficiency and renewable sources.

“We could have envisaged getting more, but we, in the spirit of compromise, decided to agree on a 27 percent target,” Ms. Merkel told the news conference, referring to the target for renewable sources.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


We ask above question in light of the Romanian Mission to the UN sponsored ASUA promoted UN event which we covered at large in our posting:

A laudable ECO-DRIVE training for petroleum fuel-saving of conventional motor-vehicles was presented at the UN in New York by the Japanese ASUA Inc., at a time the world is watching attempts at innovation that replace both – the conventional engines and the fuel. Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 20th, 2014  www.sustainabilitank.info/#34692

If this is the case, how will it impact the price of carbon in the EU and will emission savings outside the EU be allowed as carbon credits into this market or will it all be an internai EU market? These are points that we expect to be followed with interest by by the world-wide auto-motive industry.

We expect the EcoDrive caravan to make Brussels as their next target.

—————–

EU set to allow car emissions into carbon trading market

Date: 24-Oct-14
Country: BELGIUM
Author: Barbara Lewis
The European Union is set to make it easier to bring road transport emissions into the carbon trading market, a move that critics say could empower carmakers to push back against more effective curbs on greenhouse gases.

As posted by PlanetArk // Reuters from Brussels, EU leaders will attempt to agree on energy policy for 2030 when they meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, including an EU-wide cut in greenhouse gas emissions of 40 percent compared with 1990 levels.

The EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), key to efforts to reduce emissions, has so far excluded road transport. It has focused on curbing pollution from heavy industry and the power sector by forcing more than 12,000 power plants, factories and airlines to surrender an allowance for every tonne of CO2 emitted under a gradually decreasing emission cap.

But a draft of the EU’s 2030 climate and energy package, seen by Reuters, says individual member states can include road transport in the EU ETS if they choose.

It also calls on the executive European Commission to “further develop instruments and measures for a comprehensive and technology neutral approach for the promotion of emissions reduction and energy efficiency in transport”.

The phrase “technology neutral” is often used by business to champion using the EU ETS to tackle emissions, rather than sector-specific targets.

Transport is Europe’s second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after the power sector, and is also the fastest-growing one.

Bringing cars into the ETS could reduce the costs the car industry faces in meeting existing regulation as well as tackling the oversupply on the carbon market which has pushed prices of carbon allowances down to around 6 euros ($7.64) per tonne from more than 30 euros six years ago.

But the impact on emissions would be negligible, analysts say. A study published this week by consultancy Cambridge Econometrics estimated that bringing road transport into the ETS would curb emissions by 1 percent by 2030 at current ETS prices.

It also found that to achieve a vehicle emissions goal of 60 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer (g/km) by 2030 — the logical extension of existing car emissions targets — carbon prices would need to rise to over 200 euros per tonne, imposing huge costs on heavy industry.

Climate campaigners say heavy lobbying from business has already ensured a proposed emissions cut of 40 percent will not include a sub-target for transport, whereas the current set of 2020 targets includes a 6 percent cut in road fuel emissions compared with 1990.

Existing EU law also includes emissions standards to limit carbon dioxide pollution from cars, which extend to 2021 and have attracted stiff resistance, especially from the German luxury car sector, led by brands such as BMW and Daimler.

Several EU officials said there was no unanimity on bringing road transport into the ETS, so member states were likely to agree on asking the European Commission to look at ways to expand the carbon trading scheme.

But green campaigners say even the mention of flexibility in achieving targets could give carmakers more stick to persuade lawmakers to drop efforts for any further car specific standards, which they say have had a major impact on reducing vehicle fuel use and cutting pollution.

“The draft text makes the theoretical possibility of transport in the ETS move closer to reality,” said Greg Archer of environmental group T&E. “It is a dangerous precedent that will undermine reductions in transport emissions while damaging EU growth and jobs.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

MEP tells Europe to ‘wake up’ following Ukraine air crash tragedy.

Written by Kayleigh Rose Lewis and Rajnish Singh on 18 July 2014 in News – The European Parliament Magazine.

MEPs have expressed their “deepest sympathy” and called for a response to the MH17 plane crash in which 298 people died in Ukraine.

Debris from the Malaysian Airline plane crash in Ukraine

The incident, involving a Boeing 777 Malaysia Airlines plane traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was carrying passengers from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and the UK.

Reports are showing the increasing likelihood that the tragedy was the result of military action, with Ukraine’s foreign minister already pointing the finger at Russia.

Gianni Pittella, S&D group president, has responded, saying, “Our sorrow has to turn into action for peace.”

“Europe wake up,” he urged, “We have to all stand together against war and take Russia and Ukraine to a peaceful roundtable.

“This is our natural mission as the European Union. This is our role as a political family,” he explained.

“The consequences of any further silence from us would be more killings, desperation and innocent victims.

“Europe is not just a common union of goods and interests. The European Union is first of all a political community and as such we have to act now,” he rallied.

“We have to immediately clarify what led to this tragic plane crash, as justice has to be guaranteed for all victims.

“The first and most important task for Europe is to ensure that firing stops and that diplomacy and politics take over,” Pitella continued.

“We can no longer close our eyes pretending nothing is going on. There is a war beyond our Eastern borders.

“As members of the EU we have to live up to our responsibilities. Europe is, and has to remain, a space for peace and dialogue,” insisted the Italian deputy.

Dutch MEP Hans van Baalen suggested that the incident could be an act of “terrorism”, saying, “Our immediate thoughts and sympathies must go to the bereaved relatives of the passengers killed in this terrible and tragic incident.

“We cannot rule out that this was a despicable and callous act of terrorism”  – Hans van Baalen

“Given the location and the kind of weapons suspected of being in the possession of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, we cannot rule out that this was a despicable and callous act of terrorism,” he explained.

“It is vital that there is an internationally supervised investigation into the accident immediately before the wreckage is tampered with and Russia must cooperate fully with it,” the ALDE deputy concluded.

ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt, also expressed the “utmost importance” of confirming the “circumstances of this tragedy”.

“If it is confirmed that Russian backed separatists are responsible, an emergency summit of EU leaders and foreign ministers must be convened to discuss the new and deadly escalation of the security situation affecting also international civil aviation,” he argued.

A joint statement by several members of the ECR group were also suspicious of the nature of the crash, saying, “It seems increasingly likely that this was a criminal act.”

The statement, by Syed Kamall, Peter van Dalen, Anna Fotyga and Charles Tannock also went on to say, “Whoever was responsible, and those assisting them, must understand that the west will not allow civilian aircraft to be attacked without serious consequences.

“Facts must be established first, but consequences must follow from this likely act of aggression against Europe and her allies,” urged the deputies.

European parliament president Martin Schulz has also offered his condolences, saying, “I was shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic crash of the Malaysian airliner which led to the death of so many people.”

“The circumstances which led to the crash must be thoroughly investigated and responsibility of the tragedy established” – Martin Schulz

The German MEP stressed that “the circumstances which led to the crash must be thoroughly investigated and responsibility of the tragedy established.” He called on the EU and member states to offer the Ukrainian authorities the “necessary expertise” to assist in carrying out the investigation.

The crash occurred just after a debate in parliament’s Strasbourg plenary session where deputies agreed a resolution calling on Russia to cooperate with Ukraine on a peace settlement. MEPs also wanted to see Russia withdraw military assistance to separatist groups and for EU members to stop selling arms to Russia.

The parliamentarians also requested that the EU help Ukraine secure alternative gas supplies, and formally backed the signing of an association and free trade agreement between Kyiv and the EU.

The resolution was passed by 497 votes, with 121 against and 21 abstentions. As part of the resolution, MEPs also called on the EU council and member states to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian gas and impose further sanctions, including economic restrictions and actions in the financial and energy sectors. Deputies also called for better unity among national governments when dealing with Russia.

Earlier this week stronger sanctions had been announced at the extraordinary European council meeting, but Greens/EFA group co-president Rebecca Harms complained that, “The latest EU sanctions against Russia, fall short of what was is needed in response to the crisis in Ukraine.”

She called on member states to be more resolute in dealing with Russia, saying, “EU governments must also end their double speak. As long as individual countries continue to train the Russian military, supply weapons…conclude agreements for energy supplies, EU foreign policy towards Russia cannot succeed.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Priorities during the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

 MEETING OF THE EUROPE CLUB, VIENNA.
Wednsday, 9. July 2014, 17:00 Uhr (Einlass ab 16:30)
Haus der Europäischen Union
Wipplingerstraße 35, 1010 Wien
 
Keynote:
S.E. Giorgio Marrapodi
The Italian Ambassador to Vienna
 
Moderation:
Johann Sollgruber
Europäische Kommission – Vertretung in Österreich, Leiter a.
the representative of the EU in Vienna.

——————————————————————

On July 1, 2014 Italy took over the Presidency of the European Union. The Europa Club Wien invited His Excellency Ambassador Giorgio Marrapodi, Italy’s Ambassador to Vienna to lay out Italy’s Priotities during the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU .

Mr. Johann Sollgruber, Head of the Austrian Chamber of the European Commission was the Chair and Moderator of the event.

Mr. Sollgruber started the event by greeting HE Giorgio Marrapodi and thanking him for coming.

Itly’s Ambassador -
Mr.Marrapodi - lay out a vast program, which Italy will tackle during its Presidency. It is a very ambitious program.  He spoke of the main issues that Italy will try to solve – and we will just highlight in short a few of those:

Creating jobs among young people,  especially now with the high unemployment rate in many of the EU countries, which will require not only finding jobs, but also training and educating young people;

Economic growth and stability of the banking system througout the EU;

Developing a common EU position on Climate Change and Energy;

Tackling the very difficult problem of Migration, refugees who seek sylum in the EU countries and there he stressed the immense problem his country is facing ;
Fundamental Human Rights and equal rights for men and women;

The Global Role of the EU in getting involved in the problems of the Mediterranean Region, Middle East, Libya Syria, Iraq, Ukraine;

Economic Partnership between the EU, Canada and Japan  in Trade and Investment;

Promotion of Macro-Regional strategies;

For a full program of Italy’s challenges for their Presidency please log on to their website at:  www.italia2014.eu

Ambassador Marrapodi then went on to inform us of the EXPO Milano 2015 which will take place in Milan between May 1, 2015 to October 31, 2015. Expo Milan will be the largest worldwide event ever organized on the theme of Food: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.

For full information about the Expo please log on to their website at: www.expo2015.org.

Mr. Sollgruber introduced His Excellency Ambassador Edgars Skuja, Latvia’s Ambassador to Austria. Latvia will take over the Presidency after Italy from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015. Ambassador Skuja said that he is looking forward to work with his Italian colleague in preparing his country’s first ever Presideny and he will be happy to report to us in January 2015.

At the End of the event we were invited for a glass of wine and some delicacies from Umbria, courtesy of the Embassy of Italy.

For whoever is curious:    Umbria, is a region of historic and modern central Italy. It is the only Italian region having neither a coastline nor a common border with other countries. It includes the Lake Trasimeno, Cascata delle Marmore, and is crossed by the River Tiber


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From Harry Langer, New York City, June 20, 2014:

 

                               EU Selective Credit Stimulation PROPOSAL

 

Consideration should be given to establishing an EU program to stimulate weak key sectors of the economies of its member states and correct bubbles through dedicated ECB lending on specific terms and conditions to their Central Banks. This would enable each member country to have control over its own economy: to stimulate job and revenue growth and minimized bubble risks by varying the amount and costs of this dedicated and restricted money supply borrowed from this ECB program to each of its economic sectors. This program would have a sunset provision.

   

Eligible Economic Sectors: manufacturing plant construction or upgrades; new machine tools or equipment to increase productivity; new and improved commercial services and communications; agricultural improvement; infrastructure repair, maintenance, and expansion; education and skill training; residential and commercial construction; clean and alternative energy, regional transportation networks; power grids; water conservation; tourism; etc.                                              

                                                                                                                             

Flexible and Dedicated Selective Sector Credit Simulation Recovery Policy would be set by the European Commission, carried out and supervised by European Central Bank, and administered by the Central Banks of each member country since they are familiar with and understand the economic conditions and needs of their respective nations. All of these ECB loans to the Central Banks of each country would be exclusively dedicated to stimulating specific sectors of its economy approved by the ECB.

 

The Banking System As Operating Instrument: The ECB would be allowed to adjust the amount and/or vary the interest rate of these restricted and dedicated loans to each member country’s Central Bank according to need. In turn, each Central Banks would utilize qualified local or national banks to place and service said dedicated funds on a modest fee basis to qualified collateralized borrowers on pre-set Central Bank terms and conditions. All loans would be subject to the approval of the Central Bank. Each member country would guarantee all said ECB dedicated funding to its Central Bank for these dedicated local purposes. All such Central Bank lending would be confined to their own country and only used for private sector job and revenue growth and other eligible purposes as specified above.

 

Domestic Insourcing: When and if necessary, any and all member state outsourcing needs would be confined within the boundaries of the EU to help create job and revenue growth for mutual recovery and prosperity.

 

A Selective credit stimulation policy could be an effective, minimum cost tool for economic, job, and revenue growth.    

Harry L. Langer, NYC, USA  T: 212-517-5942   (E:  harrylanger at hllanger.com)

———————————————–

REQUISITES FOR GLOBAL LEADERSHIP AND FULL EMPLOYMENT:

 

(1) Nations cannot achieve and maintain greatness without a balanced multi-sector economy.

 

(2) A wealth generating high and low tech industrial base is essential to supply the funds to support a service economy, obtain full employment, provide opportunity, achieve a positive trade balance, sustain prosperity, maintain security, and reduce debt and income inequality.

 

(3) The most common causes of the decline and/or downfall of great nations or empires are unaffordable foreign military adventurism (beyond national security) and prolificacy at home.

 

(4) Governments, as well as, individuals must live within their means.

 

(5) If the domestic economy cannot produce the revenues to support the needs and demands of the nation, a country must either reduce its living standards, public services, and the size and costs of its government or develop the capability to exploit the growth opportunities in the global   economy to generate the jobs and revenues needed to avoid decline, sustain itself, and prosper.

 

(6) Government is overhead and expense and must be kept lean and cost efficient. All non-essential or superfluous departments, programs, services, perks, benefits, and personnel must be continuously culled along with ineffective or counterproductive laws and regulations. Extendable sunset provisions should be incorporated into all government programs.

 

(7) Government has a duty and obligation to create and maintain the business friendly economic environment needed to enable the private sector to provide the job and revenue growth necessary to achieve and sustain national prosperity.

 

(8) Good and effective government is dependent upon: campaign reform (solely government financed) and tax reform (graduated Flat Tax over poverty levels); all elected and public officials being held to the highest standards of competence, honesty, diligence and ethics and be removed for failure to place the national interests above personal, political, and special interests;  the elimination of crony regulations, regulators and revolving job switching between public officials and regulated entities, and special interests; the prohibition of insider trading by all elected or appointed officials and government employees; and the return of all unspent campaign funding.

 

(9) Automatically grant Green Cards to all top foreign graduates of American Universities and all talented foreign immigration seekers with college and/or advanced degrees in science, math, physics, engineering, and business from other countries and individuals with special skills to keep the U.S. the leading R&D magnet and innovation center of the world.

 

(10) Effective economic growth strategies and policies can quickly reverse negative conditions, statistics, research findings, and conventional thinking.

 

(11) Decent jobs, quality education, relevant skill training, and high and low tech re-industrialization and domestic insourcing, are the most feasible means to eliminate poverty, reduce the income gap, increase revenues, and reduce/eliminate the national debt.

 

(12) It is not true that automation and innovation will cause permanent unemployment shortages and declining wages. While automation may reduce minimum wage assembly line jobs, it increases productivity and competitiveness and creates compensating higher paying jobs in the innovation , design, production,  operation, maintenance, and installation of sophisticated machine tools, and robots, and their related services (marketing, distribution, clerical, accounting, education, training, etc.) along with the development of educational partnerships and apprenticeship arrangements between industry and school and community college systems to produce an educated, sophisticated, high tech middle class workforce that will be more prosperous, productive and globally competitive in both high and low tech manufacturing and services.

 

(13) Sustained severe unemployment, under employment, and denied opportunity can lead to social and political unrest, revenue reduction, and increased criminal activity as a means of individual or family support and survival.

 

(14) The fastest means to middle class values is a middle class income. Decent jobs, quality education, and relevant skill training are the best means to end poverty and inequality.

 

(15) Minimize taxes on the producers of jobs and opportunity and fairly and progressively

tax their beneficiaries eliminating all deductions.

 

(16) Foster and sustain a national and personal spirit and culture of excellence, pride, and pre-eminence. Teach civics. Enact compulsory voting with penalties for non-compliance.

 

(17) It is essential to upgrade the skills, professional status and compensation of teachers and provide superior and free public education from grade schools through universities.

 

(18) The keys to successful global and domestic trade are to build superior products at an affordable price and to require reciprocal market access, set minimum labor and environmental standards, and disallow unfair currency manipulation with foreign trading partners.

 

Following is a proposal for full employment via cost free high and low tech reindustrialization, relevant skill training, and affordable Universal Healthcare and livable Social Security systems:

HOW TO GET AND KEEP U.S. FULL EMPLOYMENT  AND PROSPERITY COST FREE

Despite dire predictions to the contrary, it is not true that automation and innovation will cause permanent unemployment, job shortages and declining wages. While automation may reduce some minimum wage assembly line jobs, it creates others plus compensating higher paying jobs in the innovation , design, production, operation, maintenance and installation of sophisticated machine tools, and robots, and their related services (marketing, distribution, clerical, accounting, education, training, etc.). A key part of the solution is the development of educational partnerships and apprenticeship programs between industry and school and community college systems to develop an educated and

skilled, high tech middle class workforce. This workforce will be more prosperous, productive and globally competitive in both high and low tech manufacturing and services to provide full employment, a positive balance of trade, and produce the revenues to fully fund the government, its agencies, and programs, and reduce the debt. Immigration laws must be liberalized to attract the world’s best and

brightest to make the U.S. the global center of research, development, and innovation reinforced by free public college and universal healthcare funded by a fractional securities and derivatives transfer tax.

   REINDUSTRIALIZATION could be accomplished by requiring all recipients and beneficiaries of government basic research, development grants and/or other incentives to produce the created products in the USA for 3-5 years. After that period, these goods would likely become generic and could be offshored through patent, copyright, and/ or joint venture arrangements, making room for the next generation of innovation.  All research and development would be required to be done in the USA. Non-compliance would result in duties on those goods produced overseas in whole or in part. Domestic insourcing must be promoted. Also, Sovereign high tech and financial investments would be strictly regulated to prevent industrial theft. This is not protectionism. These measures would ensure U.S. technological- superiority, competitiveness, job growth. Additionally, a U.S. High Tech Light Industrial Export Free Zone Program for Major Urban Centers is necessary for fiscal and social stability. U.S. prosperity is dependent upon the expansion of markets and demand. While innovation creates its own global markets (especially in advanced nations), the developing countries in South America, Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and Russia offer the greatest trade growth potential. It is essential to cultivate and dominate these developing markets through mutually beneficial trade agreements. The major portion of our foreign aid policy should be the exchange of U.S. produced goods, equipment, and know-how for raw, semi-finished, and low tech goods and materials. This would create jobs in both donor and recipient nations, increase the economic value of the recipient’s natural resources,   provide needed education, skill training, technical assistance, and boost their GDP.

   FISCAL AND SOCIAL VIABILITY: Our cities, states, businesses, and unions must be saved from the unaffordable and crippling burdens of health and pension obligations both of which are rightfully the duty and responsibility of the federal government and are universal rights. Consequently, it is necessary to (1) implement affordable universal healthcare incorporating well known reforms and expanding Medicare to cover all citizens and veterans  (eliminating the need for Medicaid) and (2) reform Social Security on a need and livable basis. Both systems could be financed by a new progressive flat tax code that would eliminate all tax havens, loopholes, deductions, and carried interest. Impose a fractional securities and derivative transaction tax dedicated to reduce healthcare, Social Security, and education costs. Legitimate business capital investments would be expensed in accordance with IRS schedules. Existing pension and 401k accounts would be automatically switched, on a pro rata basis, into either Roth IRA’s or a special inflation protected issue of U.S. government bonds (any resulting bond revenue surplus to Social Security needs would be added to the Social Security Fund).

TAX REFORM: A graduated flat tax would cover actual cost of government operations and said federal programs. There would be separate tax surcharges (and/or FICA increases) for the actual costs of healthcare and Social Security and the military, thus creating an effective taxpayer watchdog effect on government spending, waste, inefficiency, and military expenditures beyond national security needs. Set mandatory repatriation of 80% +/- of foreign business profits at a capital gains rate (to offset foreign taxes and special charges). Alternatively, compensating duties would be imposed on the goods and services produced overseas by non-compliant corporations and sold in the U.S. There would be modest progressive estate taxes and only a mortgage interest deduction on primary homes. The International Financial Stability Board and /or the Bank for International Settlements would set and oversee a uniform global transaction tax on all stock, bond and derivative transfers. SEC regulation of shadow banking.

Harry L. Langer 20 E 68th St. NY, NY 10065.  E:harrylanger@hllanger.com  T:212-517-5942

 

===================================================================================================

(2008)

REAL Financial Sector Reform

(Without Strangulation or expanding the bureaucracy)      

*Restore a revised Glass/Steagall Act to separate banking and speculation to reduce systemic risk.

*Restore former individual usury interest limits (6 to 7%) and personal bankruptcy protection standards (including judicial cram-downs for home mortgages, college debt, and usurious credit card interest rates,   fees and penalty charges. Set and enforce heavy civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance. (No need for an additional consumer protection agency.)

*Restrict access to the Federal Reserve Window to legitimate commercial and savings banks for domestic lending and normal operational purposes only [not for use to offset funding for capital market affiliates, bank holding companies, Wall Street financial houses or hedge or equity funds in order to prevent their gaming of the financial markets, speculation and obscene remuneration at taxpayer risk and expense, and financial system crisis].

 

*Set minimum reserve (12% Tier One capital assets) and maximum leverage limits (8.5 X Tier One capital assets) for each type of bank, financial institution, lender, insurer, pension fund, hedge fund, equity fund mutual fund etc. domestically and globally.

 

*Set and regulate minimum equity capital requirements (12% of asset value) and maximum leverage limit (8.5 X equity capital in assets) in each category of financial transactions domestically and globally via the International Financial Stability Board, the Basel Committee on Banking Regulation and Supervision and make compliance a condition of membership in the Group of 30, IMF, World Bank, OECD, WTO who would also ban all national bank secrecy protections by governments to help stop tax evasion and financial fraud).

 

*Establish and enforce uniform standards of transparency, disclosure, and due diligence in all individual and consumer financial transactions including mortgages, credit cards, credit & investment accounts, etc.

 

*The Financial Stability Board should: set and oversee a global ban on Credit Default Swaps and all naked trading including sovereign debt and bank equity and debt control; regulate shadow banking; set and oversee a uniform global transaction tax on all stock, bond and derivative transactions; establish exchange for derivatives; and put Hedge Funds and shadow banking under SEC supervision and regulations. Eliminate carried interest tax advantage.

 

*Enact law allowing only government campaign financing and prohibit all contributions, gifts or benefits to elected, aspiring, or appointed public officials from any source to end government for sale.

 

*End crony capitalism and the rotation of regulators and regulated officials between Wall Street, other financial institutions, hedge funds, lobbyists, and banks and government regulatory agencies and departments (Treasury, Federal Reserve, SEC, FDIC, Comptroller of the Currency, etc.). Prohibit employment of regulators and their key staffers by the regulated for a minimum period of 3 years after they leave government service to stop the existing clubby, revolving door system that creates individual, financial institution, and corporate insider advantages, favoritism and gains at public expense. Staffing of the regulator agencies should primarily come from top highly qualified independent professionals (academics, economists, public spirited retired and active top executives of leading corporations, think tank experts, etc.) without ties to banks, Wall Street, financial institutions, hedge funds, investment houses, and corporate special interests. An advisory panel of independent financial and economic experts should be established to oversee the regulators and the efficacy of their activities and policies to help maintain economic growth and stability, and detect and avoid systemic risk.

*No bank bonuses, perks, and top executive salary increases until the government gets fully repaid and then bank bonuses should be paid in stock options at high target bank stock exercise price. Restitution by Bank and Wall of all Government bailout costs (loans, toxic assets and subprime mortgage losses).

Although they perform certain beneficial financial and capital market and merger services, Wall Street houses, financial institutions, and hedge and equity funds can also suck the wealth out of the economy for themselves at the expense of jobs, economic growth, and their corporate targets and their stockholders. All shadow banking must be regulated in the public interest. The raison d’etre for banks and Wall Street is to provide services for businesses, governments, and individuals, not to control or exploit them. Harry L. Langer, NYC,   Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in Archives, Brussels, European Union, Reporting from Washington DC

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 10th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The title of the Second Correction of Second Correction – of June 1, 2014 -  to this article was:  “The Party of European Socialists …” for the backing of President for the New European Commission – as we find out serially that this will not be Brussels reality. Now it is crystal clear that the UK, with one foot in the US and one foot in the EU, will just not allow the creation of a strong EU that can become World Power at equal level with the US and China. The UK Prime Minister David Cameron takes cue from the anti-EU UKIP party that won the elections for the European Parliament in the UK, and organizes the resistance to those that represent the two major parties in the European Parliament by insisting that the new Commission has to be dominated by the Member States rather then by their people/citizens. This is nothing less then a hold on to the power that the Parliament was voted to wrestle out from them.

With this reality in lead we lose all hope that the EU can become anything more then the window dressing to a bunch of 28 rather small States united in form but not in fact. This will not lead to the stability that more enlightened Europeans were envisioning.

Our hope now is that the Scots do indeed vote for independence and become their own EU members reducing England to its correct position as an ally of the US and a candidate to join the the United States of America instead. That is what they want and that is what they deserve. The European continent will then be allowed to unite in its own interest and perhaps Russia would then be able to consider its own interest in realigning with it in a Eurasian Economic Union from Lisbon to Vladivostok that can hold the line versus China on its Eastern borders.

THE NEWS OF THE DAY ARE:

Merkel and Cameron in battle over European Commission.

(L-R) Dutch PM Mark Rutte, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British PM David Cameron and Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt an informal meeting on 9 June 2014 in in Harpsund, Sweden. Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt (far right) is hosting the wide-ranging talks at his summer residence in Harpsund

The leaders of Sweden, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands are meeting at a mini-EU summit near Stockholm to try to reach a consensus on European reform.

The controversial question of who is to head the European Commission is likely to be discussed, but not officially.

UK PM David Cameron is expected to try to get leaders on-side to block Jean-Claude Juncker taking the job.

It sets him against German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who publicly supports the ex-Luxembourg leader’s appointment.

Few details from the summit have emerged. However, job creation, institutional changes in the EU and structural reforms to boost EU competitiveness were said to be high on the agenda.

The UK, Sweden and the Netherlands are leading a campaign to block Mr Juncker’s candidacy, which has the support of the largest centre-right political grouping in the European Parliament, the European People’s Party (EPP).

David Cameron, Angela Merkel, Fredrik Reinfeldt and Mark Rutte talk in a boat near the summer residence of the Swedish Prime Minister The four leaders took to the river for a spot of relaxation before the talks began in earnest

Ahead of the two-day talks that began on Monday, Mr Cameron said he had the support of “all major UK parties” in opposing the appointment.

He also spoke to the prime ministers of Italy and Hungary, Matteo Renzi and Viktor Orban, by phone to discuss the matter, Reuters reports.

The BBC’s Ben Wright, in Harpsund, said the scene was set for a lengthy power struggle between EU leaders and the European Parliament over the appointment with the UK worried about the prospect of a “stitch-up”.

A news conference on the outcome of the talks is scheduled for 08:00 GMT on Tuesday.

Role of commissionMr Cameron is strongly opposed to Mr Juncker’s belief in a closer political union between EU member states and has described Brussels as “too big” and “too bossy”.

His hand was strengthened on Monday when the UK opposition Labour party said its MEPs in the European Parliament, which must approve the choice by EU leaders, would vote against Mr Juncker.

On arrival in Sweden, Mr Cameron said it should be EU leaders and not the European Parliament who decide who will head the commission.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt also dismissed the idea of a stronger role for the European Parliament.

“We in principle dislike the idea of presenting front-runners from the different parties because we think that twists the balance between the institutions and the way that the Lisbon treaty is set up,” he said.

More discussions were needed on the role of the EU commission before looking at names, he added.

line
Angela Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker The German chancellor has given Jean-Claude Juncker her backing 

Juncker: For and againstAngela Merkel: German chancellor, after some hesitation, backed European People’s Party candidate. Some in Germany believe she may be willing to discuss alternatives

David Cameron: Opposed to former Luxembourg PM’s candidacy – said to see him as a “face from the 1980s” who cannot solve the problems of next five years

Fredrik Reinfeldt: Seen as opposed to Mr Juncker and reports in European media suggest Swedish prime minister himself could be compromise candidate

Mark Rutte: Opposed to Mr Juncker, and Dutch PM due to meet Irish prime minister after Swedish summit to discuss alternative candidates

line

Dutch PM Mark Rutte told reporters that it was premature to put forward names for who should replace Jose Manuel Barroso as head of the commission.

“My belief is that we should first focus on content, discuss what the new commission should do… then discuss who fits that profile,” he said.

Mrs Merkel said the four leaders would not make a final decision on who they would back, adding that her position was well known.

EU leaders have traditionally named the commission head on their own, but new rules mean they now have to “take into account” the results of the European Parliament elections.

The EPP grouping, of which Mr Juncker is a member, won the largest number of seats in May’s polls, and he has argued that that gives him a mandate.

The decision will be made by the European Council – the official body comprising the 28 leaders – by qualified majority vote. That means no single country can veto the choice.

The decision is expected at an EU summit on 26-27 June although an agreement by then is by no means guaranteed.

More on This Story

Related Stories

From other news sites

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The first Correction title was: “Correction to “The Party of European Socialists that backs Martin Schultz for the European Commission presidency seems to have an advantage in the building of a ruling coalition for the EU” – but we found out that this will not be Brussels reality.”  But after 3 days even that title was overtaken by real Brussels life as directed from the 28 Member States’ Capitals – and even some non-member States as well —- Perhaps.

Turns out that while the great gains of the parties of the Right introduced to the EU strong elements that came to undo the EU – these parties will have a hard time creating a new faction in the EU Parliament. In effect there might be two such factions – one based on a UK-Hungary alliance and the other on an Austria-France alliance. Nevertheless, the Black and Red factions are afraid of this invasion of their previously calm and inactive EU. Rather then gearing up for strong leadership – seemingly they are opting for a united front like it is the Austrian Government norm. It loooks that the Austrian Chancellor Mr. Faymann (a Red) initiated this effort by saying he backs Mr. Jean-Claude Junker (a black)  for the position of the New President of the New European Commission, because he got the largest number of votes.

Perhaps this was done in agreement with other heads of State or Government, we will never know, but what we know is that Mr. Junker then turned around and suggested Mr. Martin Schulz, the candidate of the reds, the holder of the second largest number of votes and mandates, should be his only Vice President. In this case the Denmark Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt could replace Mr. Van Rompuy as permanent head of the European Council which according to protocol is the highest EU position {sort of a Senate to the Parliament’s similarity to a House of Representatives}.

Denmark is outside the EURO group and could thus be a bow to the non-Euro States. Similarly the Poland’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Radoslaw Sikorski is being mentioned as a professional, for replacing Lady Catherine Ashton at the EU Foreign Policy desk. Let us see if this short list will be the final one in what has become negotiations run from the Capitals rather then the one we thought will be handled directly by the heads of fracctions based in Brussels.

The Alliance of Socialists and Democrats won only 193 seats in the Parliament and is second largest faction to the 211  member European People’s Party, but when analyzing the rest of the colors’ pallet they seem to have an advantage when judging the potential for coalition building in the 752 member Parliament. A majority means having 376 votes. 

The news of these elections is the emergence of Euro-skeptic parties and Right extremists that are outside the reach of the two rather centrist contenders for heading the new Parliament who will eventually head also the Commission – being something akin to a first EU President. Extreme right and EU skeptists just do not fit in – and that was the target of those that stood up to their home governments anyway.

The two largest blocs that are positioned between the EPP and the S&D – the ALDE liberals and the Greens, amount together to 132 mandates, and they are much closer to Martin Schulz of the S&D who wants to introduce change with a more socially oriented set of policies, then to Jean-Claude Juncker of the EPP who would mean more of the same and a continuation of the policies that allowed the EU to fall into an economic crisis that was set up in the US.

If indeed the two parties mentioned join Martin Schulz, and yesterday I learned from Mr. Gerhard Schick of the German Greens that this is in the cards, then Schulz presents himself as the head of a 325 bloc, which makes it easier for him then for Junker, to reach out to the magic 376 number, or at least be indeed the leader of the largest bloc if it has to be a minority rule.  

Juncker stakes claim to EU commission’s top job  - might thus be premature.

We wonder if all new Members of the European Parliament already packed their suitcases and are off to Brussels to do there the negotiations that eventually will lead to the real results.

EU wakes up to Eurosceptic hangover.
- 26 May 2014
The EU’s mainstream political parties will move quickly to re-establish themselves as the voice of the European parliament, following EU elections that saw a significant increase in support for Eurosceptic, extreme right and anti-establishment parties.
ONE MORE COMMENT – WITH FRANCE BEING REPRESENTED IN THE EU by DELEGATES VOTED IN by 25% of ITS POPULATION THAT IS ANTI-EU, and THE UK HAVING ALSO A LARGE REPRESENTATION OF ANTI-EU MANDATARIES, Mr. SCHULZ COULD FINALLY MOVE AWAY FROM THE NONSENSE SECOND SEAT  IN STRASBOURG THAT WAS AN EXPENSIVE GIVEAWAY TO FRANCE. REALLY – HE WILL OWE THEM NOTHING.
—————————————————————————————————————————-

PES say Eurosceptic election swing sounds ‘warning bell.’

Written by Martin Banks on 26 May 2014 in News – The Parliament Magazine.

Party of European Socialists president Sergei Stanishev has conceded that the rise of far right and Eurosceptic parties in the elections sounds a “warning bell” for the political elite.

 

Martin Schulz and Sergei Stanishev at a Party of European Socialists event in the European parliament

Speaking at a news conference in parliament on Monday, the former Bulgarian prime minister said the big gains for such parties was “not so much about European politics but more about national policies and a protest vote”.

He went on, “The fact that parties like Front National and UKIP, which won more votes in the UK than another other party, can gain such support do so well is very serious and cause for concern. It should sound a warning bell to other parties and send a message that European people want change.”

“The EPP is the party which has run Europe for the last 10 years during the economic crisis and they were the big losers even though they remain the biggest group in parliament” Sergei Stanishev

Stanishev said the “big losers” in the election were the EPP, which he said had lost 60 seats and seen its share of the vote fall by some 20 per cent compared with the 2009 elections.

“The EPP is the party which has run Europe for the last 10 years during the economic crisis and they were the big losers even though they remain the biggest group in parliament.”

He said the Socialist vote share had remained stable compared with five years ago but voiced veiled disappointment that it had not done better. Even so, he said he was confident the party remained well placed to achieve its objectives in the next legislature, including further regulation of financial markets.

He also praised his colleague, German MEP Martin Schulz, a candidate for the commission presidency and parliament’s president, for an “outstanding” electoral campaign, saying he had “reached” 150 million citizens via social media. “His profile is now even bigger than it was before the election.”

Stanishev. who has led the Bulgarian Socialist party since 2001, also insisted that member states must “take account” of the outcome of the vote in deciding the next commission head, adding that, on this, he believes PES are in a “stronger position” than the EPP.

Addressing the same conference, PES general secretary Achim Post said, “It is now up to the political group leaders to form a ‘stable’ majority and the Socialists will play a decisive role in this.”

—————————————————————————————————————————-

BUT WAKING UP ON WEDNESDAY MORNING WE FOUND THAT THE POLITICAL REALITY IS SUCH THAT THE SOCIALISTS OF VARIOUS COUNTRIES WILL NOT WANT TO UPSET THE GERMAN CHANCELLOR Ms. ANGELA MERKEL WHO PREFERS TO BACK THE BLACK  PARTY CANDIDATE WHO HAPPENS TO BE FROM LUXEMBOURG, OVER THE SOCIALIST CANDIDATE WHO HAPPENS TO BE FROM THE GERMAN OPPOSITION.

Above is good for a Europe if it wants to be seen as a post-Nationalism Union that gives preference to ideas over National identity.  But then, Mr. Junker does not get yet free sailing as members of his own European Party – from the UK, Hungary, and Sweden seem to prefer alternatives from inside the EPP  – names from Finland and Italy being mentioned.

The political juggling seems even more interesting when the other positions to be filled are taken into account.

As possible  compensation for Mr. Schulz getting himself out of contention – he might then get to be the German Commissioner – although one would have expected someone closer to the German Chancellor. Austria seems to follow the German example with the Red Party Chancellor from the Red Party declaring his backing for the candidate of the Black Party as he got more votes. This opens the question whom will he support for Commissioner from Austria?

With a Catholic holiday on Thursday there is no chance now that the Parliament will have a prospective winner before the end of this week,  another week of politics is still in the cards, and in effect it might take all of the month of June.

Also, if Mr. Junker does not get full backing from his own party and does not reach a majority – then according to Parliament norm the ball is passed to the second largest faction and that is Mr. Schulz – so it might be that the wheel might still turn in his direction. Seemingly Mr. David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, has the ropes in his hands – but in mind he has the success  the anti-EU UKIP party had at these elections. Similarly France is looking at the success the Le Pen Front National had on Sunday. Does this mean that these two EU members are now favoring a weakened EU because this seemed to be the wish of their countrymen?

The French Christian Democrat Joseph Daul is leading the Black Faction negotiators and Austrian Commissioner Hannes Swoboda is leading the Red Party negotiators with outgoing Head of the Parliament, the Belgian Hermann Van-Rompuy the address of their efforts. Who will get his job? Could it be that this position will go to the Commissioer from Poland – Ms. Danuta Hebner?

 

 

 

About the author:   Martin Banks is a veteran freelance, Brussels-based journalist specialising in European politics.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

In the Ukraine — the Crimea, the Eastern and Southern Oblasts (States) – the locus of the kerfuffle – seem to give birth to a growing butterfly effect that has landed on the Russian Dynosaurus Rex back, and finally got it to act in ways it was not prepared  to act originally.

This is an analysis inspired by a programmed  presentation at the Concordia Press Club in Vienna – that seemed to focus merely on a Freudian analysis of the Putin mind, but turned eventually into a very good  wide conversation about the topic as originally advertised. We recognized fully the change in the discussion having had to do something with this redirection of the event as it proceeded.

We found the Press conference exciting, but decided to write up what was NOT said originally and what we thought was going to be said, but came out only later. So, was my original expectation just wrong? My topic here is rather the second part of that Press Conference that was originally unsaid by the speaker.

So, let us start with the title of the original ICEUR Class of May 23, 2014, with Sergei Medvedev of the Higher School of Economics, Faculty of Political Science, of the Moscow State University with the title: “THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT: HOW CRIMEA WILL TRANSFORM RUSSIAN DOMESTIC POLITICS” – held at the Concordia Press Club in Vienna, Austria. 

The Class chaired by Hans Georg Heinrich who with Ludmilla Lobova are since the 201 beginnings the Responsible Editors of the ICEUR “Strategic & Business Intelligence” product.

Prof. Hans-Georg HEINRICH is professor emeritus for Political Sciences at the University of Vienna, Vice-President and manager of ICEUR-Vienna. Dr. Lubmilla Lobova is the Scientific Director of ICEUR-Vienna.

ICEUR-Vienna – the International Center for Advanced EU-Russia Research – is an independent brain trust providing analysis, intelligence and customized services for clients in business, economic decision making and the academia.

I did not write this up earlier – but left more then a week go by to make sure I do not just shoot from the hip. Since then we had the results of the Presidential elections in the Ukraine and it seems that the team – of President Petro Poroschenko, a western style businessman, and Boxing Champ Vitali Klitschko, Mayor of Kiev (Kyiv), are holding in solid hands all areas west of Kyiv, with strong backing in most of the rest of the Ukraine – except the Krim (Crimea) which the Russian will never return to the Ukraine.

What seems very interesting is that seemingly Mr. Putin has indeed drawn for his use a chart of plus and minus for further action in the Ukraine – this after it sunk in that there were some enormous losses in economic terms and in goodwill – mainly in the US and in some other OECD countries – and what is worse – among his own oligarchs. After all, it was not nice to hear of further acquisitions in the west made with money that flew out of Russia – be it even such things as buying part of Pirelli by Roseneft albeit – Pirelli’s chief Marco Tronchetti-Provera came to St. Petersburg to sign the agreement with Rosneft’s chief Igor Sechin in Putin’s presence – thus honoring Putin – but the money left Russia and went to banks in the west the likes of Bank-Austria-Mutter, UniCredit and Banca Intessa Sampaio.

Putin is also aware of the results in the May 25, 2014, elections for the European Parliament. Mme. Le Pen in France, some Anti-Unionists in the UK – and others that will not even be able to form an internal united opposition in the EU, but infuriate whoever will lead the EU seemed to like Putin’s Russia. But this is only a foot-note. The EU will worry about the Ukraine rather then about Russia.

In effect the first result of these elections that has a big impact on Russia is that this last Thursday, May 29, 2014, the EU Commissioner of Energy, Mr. Guenther Oettinger, declared null and void any attempt by the Austrian oil company OEMV and Russia’s Gasprom to build the South Stream pipeline that would have reinforced Europe’s dependence on Russia’s gas supplies.  Oettinger made it clear that a pipeline with its sole reason the bypassing the Ukraine in order to avoid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, is not ethical and not in the EU’s interest. Now, that was a blow Putin had anticipated, and the tactician he is, he used his visit with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to sign an agreement to sell gas to China – building a new pipeline to China instead. This agreement was being negotiated for the last three years, but it did not reach the signing stage because the Chinese were not ready to pay to the Russians more for the gas then what they pay to Turkmenistan for the gas that gets delivered to them from Central Asia. Finally – now – under conditions of duress – Putin signs the equivalent of a $400 Billion 30 years agreement with China with exact details hidden. Above happened May 21, 2014 and we learned that though he got more then what was offered before, but still much less then what he gets from the EU – the real disaster for him might be in the fact that he will be payed in Yuans rather then US dollars. He is thus forced to move in part away from the World Trade that uses the dollar currency, to the new bloc being created by Brazil and China that will use BRIC currencies for trade. Someone having called this a switch from a Petro-Dollar driven World economy to a Gas-o-Yuan new system. As a new comer to this very successful bloc of upstart industrializing economies, with his underdeveloped, resource-exports State – this in effect makes him dependent of his buyers – now China – while before these Ukraine adventures he was in a long-range friendlier environment of Europe. That is why we think that the Crimea adventure was indeed that BUTTERFLY that landed n the dynosaurus back and started a process that might lead to the unraveling of Russia without a drama of a Cold War and nuclear weapons focused on each other.

But we are not complete pessimists in regard to Russia – and looking at Brussels were we see in the cards a grand coalition that will put in charge of the EU the Black and Red parties in tandem – this like it is done nearly always in Austria, and sometimes in Germany.  These moves in Brussels might  allow eventually Mr. Putin to come back to the negotiations’ table after making sure he forgets about his troika ambition – that meant for him the harnessing of the Ukraine and hitch it together with Belarus and Kazakhstan to his beloved troika. He will then  have to resign himself  to a two horses wagon only.

Regarding South Stream, that was a figment of OEMV’s 31.5% Austrian Government owned Corporation (24.9% owne dby IPIC – the  International Petroleum Investment Company – formed by the Abu Dhabi government in 1984 to invest in the energy and related sectors across the globe. Today it manages a portfolio of investments in more than 18 leading companies across the hydrocarbon value chain, including exploration and production, shipping and pipelines, downstream retail and marketing, petrochemicals, power and utilities as well as industrial services. IPIC is an exponent of international oil and as such can be counted of trying to derail any plans to make a country or the world less dependent on fossil fuels. OEMV is thus against renewable energy and its influence on the Austrian Government weakens the freedom of action by Austria. Austria has thus not contributed fully yet to the EU green efforts. Mr. Oettinger, who himself was backing the European production of fracking gas (shale gas) in order to decrease imports from Russia, has yet to be convinced to move in the direction of Renewable Energy, but then – we do not know yet who will be next European Commissioner on Energy beyond what we can say – Russia will never be allowed to be as influential in the energy supply of European countries  after the Crimea takeover as they were before that.

Professor Medvedev might have been right in his analysis of Putin the man – but the final words were with the “butterfly” nevertheless.

 

 

=================================

See Also from   —   

ICEUR Mission statement

ICEUR-Vienna is an independent brain trust providing analysis, intelligence and customized services for clients in business, economic decision making and the academia. Drawing on a wide network of experts and partner institutions, it conducts joint projects with the objective to promote business, economic, political and cultural cooperation between partners from the EU and Eastern Europe. ICEUR strives to fill the gap between the declarations of intent resulting from high-level meetings and realities on the ground by identifying problems and proposing smart

solutions. Its geographical core area spans Eastern Europe and, specifically, the entire post-Soviet space. ICEUR´s commitment to non-partisan, issue-oriented applied research and consulting ties in with the Austrian tradition of a neutral go-between which respects the vital interests of the parties as a precondition for conflict resolution and enhanced cooperation.

ICEUR´s approach is comprehensive in that it is based on the insight that neither economic, nor political nor social problems can be resolved independently of each other. Its span of activities ranges from political to market analysis, and the expert meetings organized by the center convene specialists from various fields.

ICEUR´s institutional and company membership assures a solid presence in industrial and financial circles. Its lean management and flexible operation mode makes it more mobile and capable of rapid reaction than many large companies and institutions. Read more

23.05.2014

Upcoming ICEUR Master Class with Sergei Medvedev
“The butterfly effect: How Crimea will transform Russian domestic politics”
Time: 23 May 2014, 10:00
Venue: Presseclub Concordia, Bankgasse 8, 1010 Vienna
Lecturer: Sergei A. Medvedev, Professor HSE Moscow, Deputy Dean for International Affairs
Language: English
Please register: office@iceur-vienna.at

17.03.2014

“Ukraine-A new departure?”
A Touch of High Politics: The ICEUR Round Table on Ukraine
ICEUR-Vienna´s statutory mission is to support and promote the dialogue between the post-Soviet area and the other European states. The rapidly escalating Ukrainian crisis has clearly evidenced the need for an institution that provides a meeting place for the business-like discussion of relevant issues. For the Ukrainian Round Table, we had deliberately invited panelists with different backgrounds and political convictions. Events in the Crimea loomed large over the agenda, which made diversity management difficult, but feasible. Despite the sharp conflict lines and the emotions generated by the recent tragic events (one speaker was a participant at the Maidan demonstrations, another had, among other things, consulted past presidents), the outlines of a common ground became visible. All panelists agreed on the goal of a future civilized Ukraine, preferably in a federal format. When it comes to issues of state and nation building, opinions diverged: Mr. Pogrebinskyyi came out strongly against presidential elections in May. He argued that such a move would polarize the nation and went with the hazard of re- introducing presidential authoritarianism through the back door. According to him, parliamentary elections should take precedence, and the new constitution should drastically curb the powers of the president. Mr. Vysotskiy supported the views of groups represented by the Maidan. They pursue a different strategy and believe that a strong elected president would guarantee stability. Mr. Fesenko, who is an advisor of the government in power, pleaded for fair elections that would reproduce a representation of the major political forces and reduce the political weight of marginal groups Unsurprisingly, the panelists as well as the discussants (among them members of the Russian Embassy) had widely divergent views about who was to blame for the violence in Kiev and elsewhere. Yet, they agreed that the truth could not be established at this point. It was also pleasant to hear that the discussants felt a follow-up to be held in Vienna would yield even more concrete and tangible results. ICEUR stands ready to act as a focal point for such initiatives. Panelists from Ukraine:
Mikhail B. Pogrebinskiy,
Director, Kiev Center for Political and Conflict Research. Analyst, advisor of all Ukrainian presidents since 1991

Sergey Vysotskiy,
journalist, LIGABusinessinform, participant in the Maidan demonstrations

Vladimir Fesenko,
analyst, director, Center for Applied Political Research “Penta”, advisor of the present Ukrainian government

03.03.2014

Business Seminar in Vienna “The Russian Economy After Sochi”

Summary of findings of the ICEUR Business Seminar, 3 March 2014-03-10
The two speakers, Mikhail Dmitriev and Segey Afontsev, dealt with the dynamic of the Russian economy from different perspectives, but arrived at more or less the same conclusions. They both presented a gloomy outlook for the near future. The period of high growth rates is over and recession may be around the corner. The impact of the Ukrainian crisis can be felt already, particularly in the ballooning exchange rate and the rapid decay of the securities market. Yet, they maintain that the downslide of the Russian economy has structural causes which are merely reinforced by the Ukrainian conflict. Mr. Dmitriev predicts the stalling of growth figures because of the fact that a relatively high level of consumer saturation has been reached and income growth has ground to a halt. In fact, consumption growth has outdistanced income growth during the boom years. The shrinking of the working age populations worldwide is bound to hobble productivity and economic growth. Mr. Afontsev drew the attention to the fact that since 2009, outward FDI has surpassed inward FDI. Almost 40% of the capital leaving Russia is invested in EU countries (as opposed to 9% in Ukraine). Conversely, most investment capital coming to Russia originates in Cyprus and the Netherlands (together, 36% of total FDI). This ties in with the observation that the share of energy carriers in total exports has been growing in recent years (from a low of 37% in 1994 to almost 68% in 2013). The speaker was also skeptical about the economic benefits of megaprojects: As a rule, they drain important reserve funds, stimulate corruption and are not sustainable. Both speakers agreed that in order to preserve and improve the achievements of the boom years and to avoid wide-spread dissatisfaction and protests, the Russian economy must be radically modernized. There is no other option than the dehabituation from the addiction to oil and gas.
M. Dmitriev. The new Russian consumer: Preferences, socio-economic situation, consumption patterns (Power Point)
S. Afontsev. The Russian Economy: Situation and Outlook (Power Point)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

AMAZING – I just spent two days at the yearly meetings of the Austrian Economic Association that this year dealt with: ECONOMICS OF INEQUALITY and had as key-note speaker Sir Tony Atkinson f Oxford U., and now I find in my incoming e-mail an article from Bill Moyers talking to Professor Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia U. who is President of the International Economic Association and cooperates with Sir Atkinson, something that nails the same topic down in excellent journalistic terms. Yes – clearly – we are doing everything wrong when it comes to build an economy – Why?

The Vienna meeting was held on the new campus of the Business University – WirtschafysUniversitaet Wien – in a building funded by the Austrian oil Company OEMV that is just in the news for the ill-advised South Stream Pipeline that is being planned to bypass The Ukraine when bringing to the EU Russian Gas – and was just shut down by the EU Commissioner for Energy who clearly does not want responsibility for this politically most miserable attempt by an oil company and a EU Member State to make money from fossil fuels and undermine a European Effort to go instead for Renewable Energy.

Professor Joe Stiglitz unmasks here this self-righteousness of the rich that think the World is their oyster and they have a Constitutional right to rob and legally cheat. The implications are immense and reach into globalization and efforts to enlarge the scope of international piracy using multinational trade agreements to undo healthy laws in countries that somehow managed to pass such laws.

 

Joseph E. Stiglitz: Let’s Stop Subsidizing Tax Dodgers.

 

By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company

 

31 May 2014
 readersupportednews.org/opinion2/…

 

  new report by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz for the Roosevelt Institute suggests that paying our fair share of taxes and cracking down on corporate tax dodgers could be a cure for inequality and a faltering economy.

This week on Moyers & Company, Stiglitz tells Bill that Apple, Google, GE and a host of other Fortune 500 companies are creating what amounts to “an unlimited IRA for corporations.” The result? Vast amounts of lost revenue for our treasury and the exporting of much-needed jobs to other countries.

“I think we can use our tax system to create a better society, to be an expression of our true values.” Stiglitz says. “But if people don’t think that their tax system is fair, they’re not going to want to contribute. It’s going to be difficult to get them to pay. And, unfortunately, right now, our tax system is neither fair nor efficient.”

 

BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Our democracy is now probably better described as one dollar, one vote than one person, one vote. We have a tax system that reflects not the interest of the middle. We have a tax system that reflects the interest of the one percent.

 

TRANSCRIPT:

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. Avoiding taxes has become a hallmark of America’s business icons; Apple, Google, GE, and many more of the Fortune 500. The nation’s largest corporations are sitting on more than $2 trillion in cash while revenue from corporate income taxes have plummeted from just below 40 percent in 1943 to just below 10 percent in 2012. Government and big business have colluded to create what’s tantamount to an “unlimited IRA” for corporations.

That’s not my term, although I wish I had thought of it, because it explains so much about what’s gone wrong in a country where some 20 million workers who would like a full-time job still can’t get one. Yet the upper one percent of the population takes home a staggering 22.5 percent of America’s income while their effective federal income tax rate has dropped.

No, the phrase was coined by Joseph Stiglitz, a man eminently worth quoting, a Nobel Prize winner and one of the world’s most influential economists.

Currently he’s president of the International Economic Association. Former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Bill Clinton, and the author of best-selling books that have shaped worldwide debates on globalization, income inequality, and the role of government in the financial marketplace. Now he’s written one of his shortest but most important works: this white paper, published by the Roosevelt Institute where Joseph Stiglitz is a senior fellow. It’s a mere 27 pages, but in clear and cogent prose, backed up by facts and figures, it lays out a plan that not only would reform our taxes but create jobs and strengthen the economy. I’ve asked him here to tell us about it. Welcome.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Nice to be here.

 

BILL MOYERS: You argue that elimination of corporate welfare, or at least its reduction, should be at the center of tax reform. Why?

 JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, let me put it in a broader context. Our country needs, faces a lot of challenges. We, as you mentioned, 20 million Americans would like a full-time job and can’t get one. We have growing inequality. We have environmental problems that threaten the future of our planet. I think we can use our tax system to create a better society, to be an expression of our true values. But if people don’t think that their tax system is fair, they’re not going to want to contribute. It’s going to be difficult to get them to pay. And, unfortunately, right now, our tax system is neither fair nor efficient. Look at the tax rate paid by that one percent. It’s much lower than the tax rate paid by somebody whose income is lower who works hard for a living, as a percentage of their income.

You know, Warren Buffet put it very -  why should he pay a lower tax rate on his reported income than his secretary? And the interesting thing that he didn’t emphasize was most of his income is in the form of unrealized capital gains.

 

BILL MOYERS: Unrealized capital gains are not taxed as long as the owner keeps them, right, doesn’t get rid of them?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: That’s right. And what’s even worse, if you’re a corporation and you even realize the capital gains but you’re abroad, you don’t bring the money back home, there’s still no taxes.

As long as they don’t bring the money back here, it accumulates, it grows and grows and grows, and they get wealthier. But it’s even worse than that. Because it means that they have an incentive to keep their money abroad.

And what does that mean? They have an incentive to create jobs abroad. And with our trade agreements, they can take the goods that are produced abroad with this tax-free money, bring it back in the United States, basically making it unfair competition with the goods produced by Americans.

 

BILL MOYERS: Yeah. There are several startling statements in your report. This is one of them: “our current tax system encourages multinationals to invest abroad.” And create jobs abroad, as you just said. And yet, these are people who defend their practices by saying, we are the job creators, we’re the job producers. And yet, you say they have an incentive to send jobs abroad.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: The whole discussion of who are the job creators, I think, has been misplaced. You know, what really creates jobs is demand–

 

BILL MOYERS: I spend my money to buy things.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Exactly. Americans of all income groups are entrepreneurial. You got people across our income distribution who, when there’s a demand, respond to that demand. But if there’s no demand, there won’t be jobs. Now, the problem is that the people in the one percent have so much money that they can’t spend it all. The people at the bottom are spending all of their income and hardly getting by. In fact, a very large fraction of those in the bottom 80 percent are spending more than their income. And it’s part of the instability of our economy. So, the point is this inequality contribute, to which our tax system contributes actually weakens our demand.

And that’s one of the main messages of my report, which is if we had a more progressive tax system, we could get a more efficient economy. Because there would be more jobs being created.

 

BILL MOYERS: So, these 20 million people I referred to, and you referred to in your report, who are looking for full-time work but can’t find it, if they had that work, they’d be spending their money. They’re not going to send it to the Cayman Islands, right.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Exactly. And they’re going to be paying taxes. Because they don’t have the opportunities for tax avoidance that the people who have the Cayman Islands and can use these unlimited IRAs and other ways of tax avoidance. You know, they don’t keep the money in the Cayman Islands because the sunshine makes the money grow better. They put their money there because the lack of sunshine, the way of tax avoidance–

 

BILL MOYERS: Dark money, money in the shadows, money now going into our political process, as you know so well, to reinforce this tax code.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: That’s right. Reinforce the tax code, which has led America to be the country with the highest level of inequality of any of the advanced countries.

 

BILL MOYERS: Give us a working definition for the laity of corporate welfare.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, this was an idea that I began talking about when I was serving as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers–

 BILL MOYERS: Twenty years ago.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: –twenty years ago. And everybody was talking about how much money you were giving to the poor people. It wasn’t, if you actually looked at the amount of money, it wasn’t that much. But we said, well, you’re also giving away a lot of money to rich corporations, directly and indirectly. Most of the indirect way is through the tax system. So, for instance, if you give special tax provisions for oil companies, so they don’t pay the full share of taxes that they ought to be paying, that’s a welfare benefit.

Lots of other provisions in our, hidden in our tax code basically help one industry or another, that can’t be justified in any economic terms. And, so, that’s where we coined the term “corporate welfare.” It’s caught on. And because it says it’s a subsidy, but not a subsidy, help going to a poor person, which is where welfare ought to be going, but going to the richest Americans, going to our rich corporations.

 

BILL MOYERS: So, we have a tax code that encourages people to– encourages companies to send their profits abroad, to send jobs abroad, and to reward owners of their company whose money may not come back to the United States?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: It doesn’t make any sense, you might say. And the fact it doesn’t, you know, one of the reasons I wrote the paper was, you know, there’s a lot discussion going on about we have a budget of deficit. And we have to slash this, and slash that, and cut back education, and cut back research, things that will make our economy stronger, cut back infrastructure.

 And I think that’s counterproductive. It’s weakening our economy. But the point I make in this paper is it would be easy for us to raise the requisite revenue. This is not a problem. This is not as if it’s going to oppress our economy. We could actually raise the money and make our economy stronger. For instance, we’re talking about the taxation of capital. If we just tax capital in the same way we tax ordinary Americans, people who work for a job, who pay taxes we pay on wages.

If we eliminate the special provisions of capital gains, if we eliminated the special provisions for dividends we could get, over the next ten years, over, you know, approximately $2 trillion. And those are numbers according to the CBO. And so, we’re talking about lots of money.

 

BILL MOYERS: The figures make sense to me. But the politics doesn’t. Because these are the people, once again, who dominate our system with their contributions to the politicians who then have no interest in changing a system that rewards their donors.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: We have this vicious cycle where economic inequality gets translated into political inequality. It gets translated into rules of the game that lead to more economic inequality, and which allow that economic inequality to get translated into evermore political inequality. So, my view, you know, the only way we’re going to break into this viscous cycle is if people come to understand that there is an alternative system out here.

That there is an alternative way of raising taxes, that we are not really faced with a budget crisis. It’s a manmade crisis. You know, when we had the government shutdown, we realized that that was a political crisis. That wasn’t an economic crisis. And the same thing about our budget crisis, you know. It’s not that we couldn’t raise the revenues in a way which actually could make our economy stronger. We can.

If we just had a fair tax system, to tax capital at the same rate that we tax ordinary individuals, if we just made those people in that upper 1 percent pay their fair share of the taxes they got 22.5 percent of the income, well, let’s make sure that they pay a commensurate part of our income tax, if we had taxes that would be designed to improve our environment.

 

BILL MOYERS: You mean by taxing pollution?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Taxing pollution.

BILL MOYERS: Carbon emissions.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: A general principle that we’ve known for a long time, a lot better to tax bad things than good things. Rather than tax people who work, let’s shift some of that burden into things that are bad, like pollution.

BILL MOYERS: You make it sound so easy. And I’m still hung up on your saying, you know, it would be easy to do these things. And yet, if they were easy, why haven’t we done them?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, that’s the politics. The fact is that we have a political process that I won’t say is broken, but is certainly not functioning the way we think a democracy is supposed to function, you know. In democracy, supposed to be one person, one vote. And there’s a well-developed theory about what does that imply for the outcome of a political process?

We talk about it, called the median voter. It should reflect the middle, you know. Some people want more spending. Some people want less spending. Some people, you know, so the nature of democracy is compromise. And it’s supposed to be compromise sort of in the middle. But that’s not we have today in the United States. We have a tax system that reflects not the interest of the middle. We have a tax system that reflects the interest of the one percent.

 

BILL MOYERS: Let me cite some examples of the biggest tax dodgers. These come from the organization, Americans for Tax Fairness. Citigroup had $42.6 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Exxon Mobil had $43 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. General Electric made $88 billion from 2002 to 2012 and paid just 2.4 percent in taxes for a tax subsidy of $29 billion, I could go on. Pfizer, Honeywell, Verizon, FedEx, Apple. What goes through your mind when you hear these figures?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, so, many things go through my mind. But, you know, one of the things is how unfair this is, and how angry Americans ought to be about this. I also think of the ethics of the question. If I were a CEO, take of a company like Apple, use the ingenuity of America, based on the internet. Internet was created, in large measure, by government–

 BILL MOYERS: Right.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: –by government spending. They’re willing to take but not to give back. So, there’s really a whole set of problems that concern it, ethics, equity, fairness, resource allocations. What they don’t seem to understand is our society can’t function if these large corporations don’t make their fair share of contributions.

 

BILL MOYERS: Aren’t they likely to say, though, in response, well we do this because the law permits it. This is what the system incentivizes.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well the law does permit it. They use their lobbyists to make sure that the law gives them the scope to avoid taxes. So, this argument, oh, we’re only doing what the law allows, is disingenuous. The fact is they created, their lobbyists, their lobbying helped create this law that allows them to escape taxes, pushing the burden of taxation on ordinary Americans.

 

BILL MOYERS: So, that’s the big impact on people, right. They– somebody has to make up the difference between–

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Somebody has to make up the difference. I mean, we can’t survive as a society without roads, infrastructure, education, police, firemen. Somebody’s going to have to pay these costs.

 

BILL MOYERS: Summarizing what you say in here about your proposal, raise the corporate tax rate, but provide generous tax credits for corporations that invest in the U.S. and create jobs here. Eliminate the loopholes that distort the economy, increase taxes on corporations, the profits of which are associated with externalities such as pollution, reduce the bias toward leverage by making dividend payments tax deductible, but imposing a withholding tax. I mean, these seem so common-sensical that a journalist can understand them. But they don’t get into the debate.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Yeah, well, I hope this paper will help move that along. You notice when you were listing them that these are very much based on incentives. As I said–

 

BILL MOYERS: Your plan is based on incentives?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: On incentives that we’ve created a tax system that has an incentive to move jobs abroad. And what I want to do is create a tax system that has incentives to create jobs. And if you tell a corporation, look it, if you don’t create jobs, you’re taking out of our system, you’re not putting anything back, you’re going to pay a high tax.

But if you put back into our system by investing, then you can get your tax rate down. That seems to me, common sense, particularly in a time like today, when 20 million Americans need a job. When we have so much inequality and this unemployment is contributing to that inequality.

You know, in this, the first three years of the so-called recovery, between 2009 and 2012, 95 percent of all the gains went to the upper 1 percent. So, the American workers are not participating. And the reason they’re not participating is there’s just not enough job creation here at home. And, so, this is a way of trying to incentivize all these corporations who are sitting on all this money abroad to start using some of their huge resources, some of all those benefits that we’ve given them, for the benefit of the American people.

 

BILL MOYERS: You move in circles where you come into contact with the CEOs of these companies, many of whom are deficit hawks, you know. They keep, they’re on committees. They keep testifying in Washington. They call for deficit reduction. What do they say when you make this argument to them face to face, as you’re making it to me?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Most of them are not economists. And most of them are concerned with their corporation’s own bottom line and with their own salary. So, we’ve created a corporate system in the United States where the CEOs’ pay is related to the shareholder value. The shareholder value is related to how little taxes they pay. Because if they get the taxes down, profits look high and people will pay more for their shares.

So, when they’re making an argument for, let’s lower the corporate income tax, let’s lower taxes that I have to pay, let’s expand corporate loopholes, they don’t use those words. But what they’re really saying is, pay me more, because if I succeed in getting Congress to do that, my pay goes up, not because I’ve worked harder.

I haven’t invented something new. I haven’t made my customers happier. I made my company more valuable by succeeding in getting provisions that allow my company to avoid taxes. And then, my shareholder value goes up, and my salary goes up.

 

BILL MOYERS: My conversation with Joseph Stiglitz will continue next week. {and we promise here to post the follow-up as well – The SustainabiliTank.info editor}

 

As if to prove a point, the U.S. House of Representatives, functioning these days as a legislative bordello for corporate America, is moving to extend and make permanent six separate tax cuts for big business. The whole package would come at a cost of $310 billion, virtually wiping out all the deficit reduction from last year. One of those tax credits, for research and development, already has been approved, at a cost over the next ten years of $156 billion. That’s 15 times as much as it would cost to extend unemployment benefits.

 

Did House Republicans offer to renew help for people out of work? Nope. They’re deficit hawks, and they said there’s no money to pay for it. Of course they could just ask their corporate friends to give the tax breaks back. But that would be asking too much, especially on the eve of the fall Congressional elections when secret or dark money from you-know-who will flow into you-know-whose campaigns like….well, like champagne on the company jet.

 

Yet another reminder that you need not impose fraud on people by stealth if you can succeed by law.

 

Next week, more on politics, taxes, and inequality with Joseph Stiglitz.

 

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: We already have a tax system that has contributed to making America the most unequal society of the advanced countries. That doesn’t have to be. We can have a tax system that can help create a fairer society— only ask the people at the top to pay their fair share.

 

BILL MOYERS: At our website, BillMoyers.com, we’ll link you to Joe Stiglitz’s white paper for the Roosevelt Institute. You’ll also find a list there of ten corporate tax dodgers whose names and brands we bet you’ll recognize.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 

“The model of a totalitarian, technocratic Europe is now out of date,” Marine Le Pen said in Brussels on Wednesday. Credit Francois Lenoir/Reuters

 

BRUSSELS — Emboldened by the victory in European elections of her fiercely anti-European Union party, Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front, took her crusade on Wednesday into the lair of the “monster of Brussels” — the headquarters of the 28-nation union — to forge a far-right alliance spanning the continent.

Ms. Le Pen, whose party trounced France’s established political forces in European Parliament elections that ended on Sunday, said at a news conference that she had a mission to form a bloc of like-minded groups in the Brussels legislature that would “prevent any progress” toward European unity and would restore the power of individual nation states.

For now, however, she is falling short, betraying the fractious nature of Europe’s right-wing groups, which find even each other too toxic, even if they share a desire to push Brussels bureaucrats into a corner and farther from politics on the national stage.

“The model of a totalitarian, technocratic Europe is now out of date,” Ms. Le Pen said Wednesday, speaking in the European Parliament alongside the leaders of populist, anti-Brussels groups from Austria, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands.

Ms. Le Pen visited Brussels just a few hours after a late-night gathering of European leaders, including the French president, François Hollande, who bemoaned the National Front’s strong electoral showing as “a trauma for France, and for Europe” that had “tarnished the image of France.”

Ms. Le Pen described the previous evening’s dinner for European leaders as “an emergency crisis meeting” called in response to the strong increase in support for anti-establishment parties in the elections. (The dinner had actually been scheduled weeks before the results were announced on Sunday.)

Declaring that the election would reshape Europe’s direction and put traditional elites on the run, Ms. Le Pen said the National Front and allied European parties had shown “a formidable level of unity” and displayed “the maturity of the new generation that we represent.”

For Ms. Le Pen, the would-be standard-bearer of Europe’s far-right forces, the trip to Brussels was the latest step in a long campaign by the National Front to shed its reputation as a refuge for anti-Semites and racists and to transform itself into a respectable political force with a serious shot at governing France one day. Immediately after its success in the European elections, in which it got around a quarter of the French vote, the National Front rebranded itself “the first party of France.”

“Her goal is not to be re-elected to the European Parliament,” said Jean-Yves Camus, a political analyst at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations in Paris. “Her goal is the Élysée Palace, not Brussels.”

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and a close ally of Ms. Le Pen, called the gathering in Brussels a “historic meeting” that marked the end of Europe’s six-decade drive for economic and political integration. “We are writing history here today,” said Mr. Wilders, whose party finished third in the European election in the Netherlands, a rare example of an anti-establishment party having done worse than expected.

Harald Vilimsky, a leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, hailed Ms. Le Pen as “the iconic figure of the new Europe, of bringing sovereignty back to the nation state.”

Complaining that there was a “demonization of anybody who criticizes the European project,” he said that Brussels had become “a combination of Rome, Jerusalem and Mecca. It is untouchable.” His party finished a strong third in Austria, with nearly 20 percent of the vote.

As Ms. Le Pen and others on the far right outlined their ambitions, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the European Parliament building in Brussels, holding placards and chanting slogans that denounced the National Front leader as a fascist menace. But they, too, cursed the Brussels bureaucracy, accusing it of having brought misery to Europe by promoting austerity as the cure for economic ills.

To form a formal caucus in the European Parliament, Ms. Le Pen will have to secure the support of at least 25 legislators from seven countries — two more countries than she has today. The United Kingdom Independent Party, which came in first in Britain’s European elections, drawing nearly 27 percent of the vote, has refused to collaborate with Ms. Le Pen because of what it says are her party’s racist and anti-Semitic roots.

The Danish People’s Party, which trounced mainstream parties in Denmark, also “wants nothing to do with her party,” said Soren Espersen, a member of the Danish Parliament and the party’s spokesman on foreign affairs. “They have a very bad reputation.”

Ms. Le Pen said she was confident that she could muster the necessary numbers to form a formal group in the Parliament, which would unlock funding and guarantee speaking time.

Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, rejected an alliance “for tactical reasons,” she said, because he did not want to give up the leadership of a group in the European Parliament that is now dominated by his party.

Wary of giving ammunition to her critics, Ms. Le Pen has ruled out joining forces with nationalist parties that have embraced anti-Semitism, like Jobbik in Hungary and Golden Dawn in Greece, both of which also won seats in the European Parliament.

Simon Hix, a professor of European and comparative politics at the London School of Economics, said Mr. Farage would probably continue taking a separate course from Ms. Le Pen. While the French far-right leader “will manage to cobble something together,” he said, it most likely “won’t last long.”

“Their attention will shift to domestic politics very quickly,” he said.

Ms. Le Pen has sought to broaden her support base beyond voters who share the incendiary views of her 86-year-old father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the party’s founder. Just last week, Mr. Le Pen stirred outrage by suggesting that the recent outbreak of Ebola, a virus that has killed at least 175 in Africa, might reduce the number of would-be migrants to France. While she advocates tight controls on immigration, Marine Le Pen has tried to soften her party’s image, focusing much of her fire on bureaucrats in Brussels rather than on foreigners, particularly nonwhite ones, as her father did.

“It is still a fascist ideology, even if it is disguised under the smile and the charm of Marine Le Pen,” said Dominique Moïsi, a senior adviser at the French Institute for International Relations. Many who voted for her were disenchanted with mainstream parties, he said, “but they were not necessarily hoping she would go to the Élysée Palace.”

Nonetheless, the National Front’s showing in the elections cemented its transformation from a fringe party to a more central one, emboldening Ms. Le Pen to start plotting a course toward the presidency in 2017.

With the Socialist Party of Mr. Hollande and the scandal-plagued Union for a Popular Movement, the party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, both in disarray, the National Front is in a position to become a third major player on France’s political landscape. Ultimately, Ms. Le Pen’s ability to advance further on the national scene will depend on whether the mainstream parties can rebuild themselves and regain the confidence of French voters.

“If the mainstream parties react with enough courage and lucidity, and find the right way to speak to the citizens, then Marine Le Pen’s high point will have been May 2014,” Mr. Moïsi said. “But if they fail to understand the gravity of the message sent to them by the electorate, you can’t exclude that Marine Le Pen could be the president of France.”

 

Related Articles:

  • Letter From Europe: After Vote, a Rubicon Moment for E.U.?

  • National Front Wins Support and Elections.

  • Anti-Europe Parties at Odds, Despite Shared Cause. 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

EU must harness ‘significant potential’ of green growth.

Written by Detlef Eckert on 28 May 2014 in Feature – The Parliament Magazine.

Europe can reduce its dependency on future fossil fuel imports through a ‘fundamental transition’ to an energy efficient ‘circular economy model’, says Detlef Eckert.

Illustration of green growth

There is a broad consensus that the inefficient use of resources, increasing energy dependency and unsustainable pressure on the environment and climate change pose challenges to long-term economic growth. Interestingly, a shift towards a resource and energy efficient circular economic model is not only a necessity, but has the potential to increase competitiveness and boost economic growth, while creating more and better jobs in the EU.

Similar to the digital transformation, the greening of the economy will affect employment in specialised sectors, such as the environmental goods and services sector (EGSS) and spread out across the entire economy. There has been considerable job creation in EGSS, where employment in the EU increased from three to four million between 2002 and 2011, including by 20 per cent throughout the recession years of 2007 to 2011. Many studies estimate a significant potential for further employment creation in the production of energy from renewable sources, energy efficiency, waste and water management, air quality, restoring and preserving biodiversity, climate change adaptation and the development of green infrastructure.

“The green transition will bring about fundamental transformations across all sectors – additional employment will be created, some jobs will be replaced and others redefined”

The green transition will bring about fundamental transformations across all sectors – additional employment will be created, some jobs will be replaced and others redefined. The scale of the challenges and opportunities related to the greening of the economy can be illustrated by the EU’s annual spending on foreign oil and natural gas imports that reached €400bn or approximately 3.1 per cent of the EU’s GDP in 2012. Its dependency on imports is predicted to grow even further to 90 per cent for oil and 80 per cent for natural gas by 2035. Besides, it is estimated that reducing the total material requirement of the EU economy by 24 per cent could boost GDP by up to 3.3 per cent, while creating more than two million jobs.

While investing in a green economy creates new jobs and opens new markets, it is also true that Europe’s competitiveness, innovative capacity and productivity strongly depend on the availability of skilled workers. Job creation potential could remain underexploited because of existing and future skills shortages. For example, it is estimated that more than four million workers in the construction sector need up-skilling to meet the 2020 energy efficiency targets. Understanding the labour market and skills implications is therefore necessary in order to better anticipate and manage structural adjustments.

Managing the transition towards a green, low carbon, resource and energy efficient economy successfully calls for joint efforts on the part of the EU, member states and other key stakeholders, including social partners. Employment policies and labour markets at large need to play an active role in supporting creation and transition of jobs and in servicing demand for labour and skills related to green growth. To this end, we should prioritise strengthening the skills intelligence and fostering development of skills in sectors and occupations linked to green growth, together with strengthening the tools for anticipation of change, supporting occupational transitions and intra and inter-sectoral mobility.

—————————-

About the author:  Detlef Eckert is director of Europe 2020: employment policies directorate at the European commission’s DG employment, social affairs and inclusion
=========================================

A sustainable economy can bring ‘massive co-benefits.’

Written by Sebastien Godinot on 28 May 2014 in News

Business as usual is ‘not an option’ which is why a systemic change is needed in Europe, explains Sebastien Godinot.

The crisis that Europe has been suffering over the last years is systemic: it is financial, budgetary, environmental, social and political. Going back to business as usual is not an option.

Europe is over-consuming resources and destroying its natural capital. With over 27 million people unemployed in the EU and a growth of inequalities, the social capital is damaged. The European economy is weak and at growing risk of external shocks. EU citizens are exhausted after the political focus of the last four years on the crisis; which isolates the EU from its citizens and threatens the European project as a whole.

A new vision is needed in Europe, refocusing on what people care about the most: well-being, jobs, quality of life. And this, of course, includes sustainability. The development model prevailing in Europe over the last 60 years has come to an end. Notably, natural capital is becoming increasingly scarce.

The environmental benefits of a sustainable economy are the most self-evident. Recycling more and wasting and polluting less, will reduce our ecological footprint. But have we ever thought about the massive co-benefits a sustainable economy could bring?

“The environmental benefits of a sustainable economy are the most self-evident”

First, less pollution will improve public health. At a time when the World Health Organization releases new estimates that air pollution kills seven million people annually (one in eight of total global deaths), it is urgent to shut down many inefficient coal power plants which are a major contributor to air pollution in Europe.

Second, a greener economy will provide more jobs because sectors like renewable energy and energy efficiency are more labour-intensive than mature sectors like fossil fuels. Every million euro invested in renewables creates from two to three times more jobs than conventional fossil fuel investments.

Third, a sustainable economy will improve our resilience to external shocks – if the EU reduces its enormous addiction to (increasingly imported) fossil fuels, we will suffer less from the volatility of price shocks outside European borders.
And last but not least, well-being and quality of life will increase amongst Europeans.

To radically reduce our excessive environmental footprint and protect our natural capital, WWF puts the focus on five priority policy areas.

Getting climate and energy policies on course for 2030 is a must to spur energy efficiency and low carbon innovation. Three binding targets of 55 per cent greenhouse gas reduction, 45 per cent renewable energy and 40 per cent energy efficiency improvement compared to 1990 are needed.

A proper EU enabling framework for resource efficiency and setting mandatory EU targets for reducing total material consumption, water and land footprints needs to be established.

We also need to measure what counts: going beyond GDP indicators is required for optimal decision-making. This includes natural capital accounting: by 2020 the value of ecosystems should be incorporated in EU and member states decision making processes.

Functioning fiscal and financial tools are also essential to support a sustainable economy. All environmentally harmful subsidies should be phased out and green taxation should reach an average ten per cent of total taxation in EU member states by 2020. Private financial policies and regulations should internalise climate change and natural capital requirements.

Finally, international leadership; Europe should lead on sustainable economic initiatives globally – both fulfilling its own commitments for climate and biodiversity finance and supporting developing countries to move forward.

————————————-

About the author: Sebastien Godinot an economist at the WWF European policy office

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE WHITE HOUSE      ——-    April 25, 2014

G-7 Leaders Statement on Ukraine

We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, join in expressing our deep concern at the continued efforts by separatists backed by Russia to destabilize eastern Ukraine and our commitment to taking further steps to ensure a peaceful and stable environment for the May 25 presidential election.

We welcomed the positive steps taken by Ukraine to meet its commitments under the Geneva accord of April 17 by Ukraine, Russia, the European Union, and the United States. These actions include working towards constitutional reform and decentralization, proposing an amnesty law for those who will peacefully leave the buildings they have seized in eastern Ukraine, and supporting the work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  We also note that the Government of Ukraine has acted with restraint in dealing with the armed bands illegally occupying government buildings and forming illegal checkpoints.

In contrast, Russia has taken no concrete actions in support of the Geneva accord.  It has not publicly supported the accord, nor condemned the acts of pro-separatists seeking to destabilize Ukraine, nor called on armed militants to leave peacefully the government buildings they’ve occupied and put down their arms.  Instead, it has continued to escalate tensions by increasingly concerning rhetoric and ongoing threatening military maneuvers on Ukraine’s border.

We reiterate our strong condemnation of Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Crimea and Sevastopol, which we do not recognize.  We will now follow through on the full legal and practical consequences of this illegal annexation, including but not limited to the economic, trade and financial areas.

We have now agreed that we will move swiftly to impose additional sanctions on Russia.  Given the urgency of securing the opportunity for a successful and peaceful democratic vote next month in Ukraine’s presidential elections, we have committed to act urgently to intensify targeted sanctions and measures to increase the costs of Russia’s actions.

Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the response from the international community already have imposed significant costs on its economy.  While we continue to prepare to move to broader, coordinated sanctions, including sectoral measures should circumstances warrant, as we committed to in The Hague on March 24, we underscore that the door remains open to a diplomatic resolution of this crisis, on the basis of the Geneva accord.  We urge Russia to join us in committing to that path.THE

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Please join the European Union Studies Center as we celebrate Europe Day 2014 with a keynote address of H.E. Mr. Christos P. Panagopoulos, the Ambassador of Greece to the United States, followed by a concert and reception.

  Greece holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Ambassador is thus particularly well equipped to provide insights into European Union matters.

The event will take place on Friday May 9 from 6-8pm in the Elebash Recital Hall of the CUNY Graduate Center.

Business attire is required. Please register at www.euromatters.org/europe-day-2014/ or on  website euromatters.org.

Registration is also possible via the included flyer.

===================================================

9 May marks the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in the Second World War (also known as the Great Patriotic War in the Soviet Union). It was first inaugurated in the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union, following the signing of the surrender document late in the evening on 8 May 1945 (after midnight, thus on 9 May, by Moscow Time).

The Soviet government announced the victory early on 9 May after the signing ceremony in Berlin. —- Though the official inauguration happened in 1945 (which means it has been celebrated since 1946), the holiday became a non-labour day only in 1965 and only in some of the countries.

In the former Soviet Union this festival was celebrated to commemorate the Red Army’s victory over the Nazi forces.

In communist East Germany, a Soviet-style “Victory Day” on 9 May was an official holiday from 1975 until the end of the republic in 1990. Prior to that, “Liberation Day” was celebrated on 8 May, between 1950 and 1966, and again on the 40th anniversary in 1985. Since 2002, the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has observed a commemoration day known as the “Day of Liberation from National Socialism, and the End of the Second World War”.

——-

The European Union does not set public holidays for its member states. However the European Commission does set public holidays for the employees of the institutions of the European Union on a year by year basis. This includes a EUROPE DAY on May 9th.

On 9 May 1950, Robert Schuman, the first President of the European Parliamentary Assembly, presented his proposal on the creation of an organised Europe, indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations.

This proposal, known as the ‘Schuman declaration’, is considered to be the beginning of the creation of what is now the European Union. Today, 9 May has become Europe Day, which is the occasion for activities and festivities that bring Europe closer to its citizens and the peoples of the Union closer to one another.

On the other hand – in 1964 – The Council of Europe declared May 5th as Europe Day.    THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL was formed in 1949 by the treaty of London to establish in Strasbourg the first institution to lead to European Integration. We hope that May 9th can stick despite the possibility that its Soviet context might make it seem a Russian partisanship of history – a discussion that deserves many tomes of research. In the meantime we felt we had to point out the fact that the date and a holiday on that date are not yet a matter of fact in the EU States.

 ———

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 

Take Action: Urge U.S. & EU to Oppose Imminent U.N. Appointment of Richard Falk’s Wife.

 

 

 

As Richard Falk ends his despicable 6-year UN term this Friday, his wife, co-author and closest collaborator Dr. Hilal Elver (above) is about to be named to her own 6-year UN term, as expert on the right to food.

 

This Cuban-created position was for years held by Jean Ziegler – founder and recipient of the “Moammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize” — which he abused to attack America, Israel and the West.

 

Given her shameful record of extremist politics, there is no doubt that Falk’s wife intends to do the same. And that essentially Falk will retain his U.N. influence after all.

 

The only way to stop Elver’s appointment to this 6-year global post is if the U.S. and EU make clear they will vote NO if her name is moved forward.

 

 Stop this from happening on Friday.

 

FALK FINALLY LEAVES UNHRC

Richard Falk

FALK’S WIFE JOINS UNHRC

Hilal Elver

Promotes writings of 9/11 conspiracy theorist David Ray Griffin, who in turn thanked him in his book “The New Pearl Harbor” Promotes writings of 9/11 conspiracy theorist David Ray Griffin, who in turn thanked her in his book “The New Pearl Harbor”
Accuses Israel of “genocide” Accuses Israel of “genocide”
Accuses Israel of “Apartheid” in latest and final UN report Accuses Israel of “Water Apartheid” in latest Qatar lecture
Says criticism of Turkish demagogue Erdogan is “exaggerated” Says criticism of Turkish demagogue Erdogan is “exaggerated”
Targets America and the West in his articles, books and lectures Targets America & the West in her articles, books & Facebook page

 

 Urge world leaders to oppose the
outrageous nomination
of Hilal Elver.

Say No to the Abuse of Human Rights!  

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 We wonder that anti-EU British and Dutch Right-Wingers were not mentioned among the invitees – perhaps that was an oversight of the reporter?

=====================

Russia invites EU far-right to observe Crimea vote.

from the EUobserver – 13.03.14

By Benjamin Fox

 

BRUSSELS – The Russian government has invited some of Europe’s far-right parties to observe this weekend’s referendum in Crimea.

The leader of France’s National Front party, Marine Le Pen, told press at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday (12 March) that her executive has not yet decided whether to go.

The Austrian Freedom party, a National Front ally, also got an invitation.

Crimeans will go to the polls on Sunday to pick one of two options: “Are you in favour of Crimea becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation?” or “Are you in favour of restoring Crimea’s 1992 constitution? [on semi-autonomy inside Ukraine].”With Russian soldiers and paramilitaries in control of streets and public buildings, the vote will effectively be held at gunpoint.

EU leaders have said the referendum is illegal.

The G7 club of wealthy nations, which also includes Canada, Japan, and the US, described it as a “deeply flawed process which would have no moral force.”

The OSCE, a Vienna-based multilateral body, has also declined to send observers because the vote was called in violation of Ukraine’s constitution.

But for her part, Le Pen voiced sympathy for Russia, even if it opts to annex the territory after Sunday’s result.

“Crimea is not like the rest of the country … it is very closely linked to Russia,” she said, adding: “We have to take account of the history of Crimea.”

“From the outset of the crisis we [the National Front] have said that Ukraine should maintain its sovereignty but allow the three main regions to have a lot of autonomy.”

She described the prospect of EU economic sanctions against Russia as “dangerous” and echoed Russian propaganda on the new authorities in Kiev.

“We should have some qualms about the new government because it was not elected … We know that there are neo-Nazis and extremists in this government,” she said.

With Europe’s far-right keen to play up the Ukrainian crisis as an EU foreign policy blunder, Austrian MEP Andreas Moelzer, from the Freedom Party, told Austrian news agency APA also on Wednesday that he is considering Putin’s offer.

“We are among the few who try to understand Russia,” he said.

———–

The Soviet Union made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954.

Some 58 percent of its 2 million people are ethnic Russians.

But ethnic Russians became the majority only in World War II, when Stalin deported hundreds of thousands of Armenians, Bulgarians, Jews, Germans, Greeks, and Tatars from the region.

The 800,000 or so Ukrainian speakers who live there now form the majority in nine districts.

The 250,000 or so Tatars in Crimea have appealed for EU, US, and Turkish help to keep them from falling under Putin’s rule.

 

Crimean Tatars Face Uncertain Future

Seventy years after Stalin brutally deported thousands of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia, the descendants of those who returned fear repression as Russia tightens its grip on the peninsula.

. Related Article

 

Amid Preparations, Mediator Says Syria Vote Would Doom Talks

By SOMINI SENGUPTA

Lakhdar Brahimi said there were many signs that Syria’s government was planning an election, though that would be counterproductive for talks.

========================

OUR CONCLUSION:
ELECTIONS AT GUN-POINT ARE A FAKE DEMOCRATIC WAY TO HELP DESPOTS ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. WE THINK THE US TEA-PARTY COULD ALSO TAKE A BREAK BY GOING TO THE CRIM.  WE SAY THIS WITHOUT
JUDGEMENT OF THE MERITS OF THE ISSUE AT HAND – RATHER BY THINKING ONLY OF THE SUSTAINABILITY OF THE APPROACH OF CALLING FOR DISPUTED ELECTIONS WITHOUT A WIDE RANGE OF OBSERVERS.

 ======================

THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF INFORMATION ABOUT US-RUSSIA DISCUSSIONS IS AS FOLLOWS:

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Winfield House
London, United Kingdom
March 14, 2014

 


 

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. My pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Lavrov to Winfield House, the American Embassy residence here in London. Obviously, we have a lot to talk about. I look forward to the opportunity to dig into the issues and possibilities that we may be able to find about how to move forward together to resolve some of the differences between us. And we look forward, I know, to a good conversation.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Well, I’m also satisfied to have this meeting today. This is a difficult situation we are in. Many events have happened and a lot of time has been lost, so now we have to think what can be done. Thank you.

AND THAT IS HOW IT IS.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From:

AFJN

It is all because of interests of big business why Africa is held down – and this with the help of corrupt African Governments’ leaders.  If this continues – there is indeed no future for Africa. Foreign aid by old industrialized
Nations is wasted effort.


 

US aid to DR Congo: No more free rides for corrupt government officials!
Did you know your tax dollars are subsidizing corrupt bureaucrats in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)? Instead of subsidizing millions of dollars in theft, fraud and unpaid taxes, the US should…
Read more

Herakles Farms must Stop Unjust Lawsuits Against a Cameroonian Activist
Herakles Farms, a US based agribusiness has filed a lawsuit against Mr. Nasako Besingi, a Cameroonian activist for defamation for peacefully protesting against the company’s grabbing of his ancestral land in South-West Cameroon. For the defamation case, the maximum penalty is 6 months imprisonment and $4,000 in fines, money he does not have.
Today, ask Mr. Patrick Jones to withdraw this lawsuit.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Annual Progressive Economy Forum, 5-6 March 2014

Full programme

December 2013 Parliamentary Conference

Progressive Economy organised a first annual Progressive Economy Parliamentary Conference in Brussels on Wednesday 4 December and Thursday 5 December 2013.
Read more »

New events

Wed, 05/03/2014 – 14:30
Brussels, Belgium

=================================================

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 6th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Julia Kerschbaumsteiner, the Enargy spokesperson  Greenpeace welcomed the fact that the European Parliament (the Equivalent of the US House of Representatives) is increasing the European Union suggestions for the post-2015 period with aims for 2030 which are higher then what the European Commission (the equivalent of the US Senate) was suggesting.

—————-

As per news from the Austrian OERF:

EU-Parlament fordert verbindliche Klimaziele bis 2030

Das EU-Parlament hat verbindlichere und ehrgeizigere Klimaziele als die von der EU-Kommission vorgeschlagenen verlangt. Die EU-Abgeordneten verabschiedeten heute in Straßburg eine nicht bindende Entschließung, die neben einer Senkung des CO2-Ausstoßes von 40 Prozent einen Anteil von erneuerbaren Energiequellen von 30 Prozent und eine Verbesserung der Energieeffizienz um 40 Prozent bis 2030 fordert.

Die Abgeordneten kritisierten die jüngsten Vorschläge der EU-Kommission als „kurzsichtig und unambitioniert“. Die EU-Kommission hatte den Ausbau der erneuerbaren Energiequellen auf 27 Prozent vorgeschlagen, dabei aber nur ein europäisches Ziel angestrebt. Die EU-Parlamentarier verlangen, dass diese Vorgabe mit Hilfe einzelner nationaler Ziele verwirklicht werden sollte. Dabei sollen die Situation und das Potenzial des jeweiligen EU-Staates berücksichtigt werden.

Die Umweltorganisation Greenpeace begrüßte, dass die „Minimalkompromisse“, die von der EU-Kommission in einem Vorschlag vorgelegt wurden, vom Parlament deutlich überboten wurden. „Die EU-Energiepolitik muss sich nun am Parlament orientieren“, forderte Julia Kerschbaumsteiner, Energiesprecherin von Greenpeace.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 6th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Google on brink of EU settlement.

writes EUobserver of  February 5, 2014 – by Benjamin Fox

Related

BRUSSELS – Google is on the brink of ending a three-year competition battle with the European Commission, after the EU executive indicated it is ready to accept its latest offer to change the way it runs web searches.

In November 2010, the EU executive launched an investigation into claims that the search engine firm used its 95 percent market share in Europe to distort internet search results by putting links to its own products and services at the top.

The EU’s competition case has also focused on how Google displays content from other websites without permission.

However, speaking with reporters on Wednesday (5 February) the bloc’s competition boss, Joaquin Almunia, said that Google’s third and final offer, finalised in January following weeks of “intense negotiation” was “far reaching” and could bring about “a level playing field in web searches.”

Under EU competition rules, sanctions could include a potential fine of up to 10 percent of Google’s annual turnover of around €40 billion.As part of the five-year offer tabled by the firm, services offered by Google would be graphically separated from other search results. Google would also put a label on its webpages to remind consumers that its own products will be given special treatment by web searches.

Meanwhile, Google would make it easier for companies to buy adverts through rival networks by dropping exclusivity requirements which force publishers to take their adverts solely from Google.

However, Google’s rivals, led by industry lobby group ICOMP, quickly slammed the new terms as “a massive failure.”

In a statement on Wednesday, ICOMP, which is sponsored by Microsoft, called on Almunia to set up an independent review of the offer from Google before making a decision.

“We do not believe Google has any intention of holding themselves to account on these proposals, and given the catastrophic effects on the online ecosystem that a proposal that doesn’t hit the mark will have, we would implore commissioner Almunia to allow a full third party review of their submission as the very least the commission can do in this landmark case,” it said.

“Without a third party review, Almunia risks having the wool pulled over his eyes by Google,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, Fairsearch Europe, which includes Nokia among its members, said that the Google plan would “lock in discrimination and raise rivals’ costs instead of solving the problem of Google’s anti-competitive practices.”

It complained that the offer would still require rivals to pay Google to guarantee search placement similar to that offered to Google’s own material through an auction mechanism.

For her part, Monique Goyens, director general of European consumer group BEUC accused the commission having “fallen far short of the aim of ensuring fair consumer choice.”

Complainants will now give their opinions to the proposals before the commission takes its final decision in the coming months.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

from: Leida Rijnhout
Director Global Policies and Sustainability
European Environmental Bureau (EEB)BOULEVARD DE WATERLOO 341000 BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
Tel: +32 (0) 2 290 88 15 | Mobile+32 (0) 494 89 30 52 | Websitewww.eeb.org/

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is the environmental voice of European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. We want the EU to ensure all people a healthy environment and rich biodiversity.

Corporate influence in the Post-2015 process
- working paper by Lou Pingeot, published by Brot fuer die Welt, Global Policy Forum and Misereor
As the 2015 deadline for the MDGs fast approaches, UN member states have started negotiations to define a new global development framework for the time after. This process is expected to culminate in 2015 with the definition of a Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. Corporate interest groups and large transnational corporations such as Unilever, Vale, AngloGold and many others have been actively involved in this process, including the Secretary General’s High-Level Panel and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. In addition, the Global Compact has provided a privileged channel for corporate influence in the post-2015 agenda.

A new working paper by Brot f?r die Welt, Global Policy Forum and Misereor provides an overview of the main corporate actors in the post-2015 process and how they shape the discourse on development.

The private sector certainly has a role to play in the future of sustainable development. But the messages and visions of transnational corporations and business associations are worrying. Rather than binding multilateral agreements, they advocate for public-private partnerships and voluntary initiatives that largely leave both governments and private actors off the hook. They focus on growth, free markets and and new technologies (to be provided by the private sector) as a silver bullet solution to eradicate poverty, decrease inequality and preserve the environment, without reflecting on how the current growth paradigm has led us to the situation we face today.

This paper advocates for more transparency around the participation of corporations in UN processes, including their financial support to UN initiatives, and for more reflection on the risks of a corporate, private interests-driven development agenda. The full paper is available here:

www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/GPFEurope/Corporate_influence_in_the_Post-2015_process_web.pdf

For more information, please contact:
Wolfgang Obenland
Program Coordinator
Global Policy Forum
K?nigstr. 37a
D-53115 Bonn
Tel +49(0)228-96 50 707
Fax +49(0)228-96 38 206
wolfgangobenland@globalpolicy.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

According to ORF – the Austrian Government official information network – the eU headquarters in Brussels are talking seriousli about a CLIMATE POLICY based on CO2 emissions reduction, the introduction of more renewable sources and rules for the Shale-Gas fracking technology. 

The figures being proposed now are a binding -40% CO2 by 2030 (based on 1990) which is better then the previously proposed -20% by 2020 – but still far bellow what Germany is propsing. Similarlyfor the introduction of Renewable Sources of Energy where the figure is being moved to 27% but here it is much more flexible – that is not an all Union binding figure – but an open achievement goal to the Member States. Will Germany accept these new figures – this is still an open question – but at least we see here a move to reach an agreement.

Similarly, the introduction of Shale fracking gas is a given conclusion but it will have to happen within a recommended framework as the environmental problems with water quality are now on the common table.

============================================

EU-Klimaziele 2030: Minus 40 Prozent CO2-Ausstoß

 

Die EU-Kommission schlägt im Kampf gegen den Klimawandel eine Reduzierung des Kohlendioxidausstoßes in der Europäischen Union bis 2030 um 40 Prozent vor. Bisher waren es 20 Prozent für 2020. Zugleich soll der Anteil von erneuerbaren Energieträgern auf 27 Prozent steigen, wie die Brüsseler Behörde heute bekanntgab.

Während das CO2-Ziel rechtlich verbindlich sein soll, will die Kommission den Mitgliedsstaaten beim Anteil der erneuerbaren Energie mehr Flexibilität einräumen. Beide Klimaziele beziehen sich auf die Werte von 1990.

Die Vorschläge der Brüsseler Behörde dürften auf Widerstand im EU-Parlament und bei einigen EU-Staaten wie Deutschland stoßen, die sich für ambitioniertere Ziele starkgemacht hatten. Bis sich die EU-Institutionen auf ein gemeinsames Paket geeinigt haben, dürften angesichts des langwierigen EU-Gesetzgebungsverfahrens und der unterschiedlichen Positionen noch Jahre vergehen.

——————————————————

Mindeststandards beim Fracking

EU-Staaten, die mit der umstrittenen Fracking-Methode Schiefergas fördern wollen, sollen nach dem Willen der EU-Kommission Mindeststandards zum Schutz von Umwelt und Gesundheit einhalten. „Schiefergas weckt Hoffnungen in manchen Teilen von Europa, aber ist auch ein Grund für Sorgen in der Bevölkerung“, so EU-Umweltkommissar Janez Potocnik in Brüssel. Die EU-Staaten sollten daher Mindeststandards beim Fracking befolgen.

Demnach soll es etwa Folgeabschätzungen und Analysen für Auswirkungen und Risiken für die Umwelt geben. Die EU fordert außerdem, dass vor dem Beginn der Arbeiten die Qualität von Wasser, Luft und Böden getestet wird, um mögliche Verschlechterungen durch das Fracking feststellen zu können. Die Anrainer sollen zudem über die eingesetzten Chemikalien informiert werden.

Die Mitgliedsstaaten bekommen damit aus Brüssel keine rechtlich verbindlichen Vorgaben. Potocnik kündigt aber an, dass die EU-Kommission die Umsetzung überprüfen und in anderthalb Jahren eine Bilanz ziehen will.

 

###

« Previous Articles

RSS Feed

back to top