European Business Briefs: Environmental tax, aid for lorry filters, nuclear loan, legal action against Spain, CSR tool.
The European Commission has formally requested Italy to abolish an environmental tax which is levied on natural gas transported from Algeria to Italy or other Member States via Italy in a gas pipeline owned by a private company. The Commission considers that the tax infringes the EU Common Customs Tariff because it runs counter to the principle of equal customs duties on products imported from non-EU countries bordering the Community, the basic principles governing the common commercial policy and the Community's international obligations arising from the Cooperation Agreement with Algeria. The Commission's formal request is in the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage of the infringement proceedings provided for by Article 226 of the Treaty. If the Italian legislation is not amended within two months the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice.
On behalf of Euratom, the European Commission this week approved an amendment to the decision taken in 2000 to grant a loan to the Ukrainian National Nuclear Power Company Energoatom for unit 2 at Khmelnitsky and unit 4 at Rovno nuclear power plants in Ukraine, the so-called K2R4 project. The loan will now exclusively target enhanced plant safety by financing the safety upgrade investments to be made after start-up of the plants that are now both close to completion. The amount of the Euratom loan has been reduced to the € equivalent of USD 83 million. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has recently approved a loan of USD 42 million for the same project.
The European Commission has decided to pursue infringement proceedings against Spain in seven cases involving EU environment law. The main problems relate to waste disposal, urban wastewater and construction projects that may affect nature sites and the wider environment. The Commission is asking Spain to comply with a ruling by the European Court of Justice, which condemned Spain over a number of uncontrolled waste disposal sites. These sites pose a threat to human health and the environment. In the other cases, the Commission has sent Spain written warnings. With its action, the Commission seeks to ensure that Spanish authorities apply correctly EU environmental law to protect its abundant biodiversity and provide its citizens with a healthy environment.
Two Finnish multinationals have begun using new software to manage and report on their sustainability performance. Finnforest, which is one of Europe's biggest wood products groups, and the manufacturer Wärtsilä Corporation are both now using the EnQ CSM software to gather, consolidate and report their non-financial data. The web-based CSM software - CSM stands for Corporate Sustainability Management - collates data both at individual sites and across the company, and is compatible with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) sustainability reporting guidelines.
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