News in brief

Water trading in Spain --- Voluntary paper recycling agreement --- CEE countries slow on environment --- European Eco efficiency initiative --- French VAT on renewables dispute


Water trading in Spain

Spain’s long-awaited white paper on water is expected to be presented to parliament shortly, reports El Paìs. Having opposed water transfer schemes while in opposition, the Partido Popular is now expected to recognise the need to transfer water between some of Spain’s autonomous regions. However it plans to set up a system where drier regions will pay wetter regions for receiving their excess water.

Paper recycling

The European paper industry is to begin formal negotiations with the European Commission on a voluntary agreement to increase recycling. The board of the Confederation of European Paper Industries (Cepi) agreed yesterday to push ahead with the talks, which it hopes will lead to a formally recognised EU-level commitment.

CEE countries slow on environment

The EU Commission has criticised many central and eastern European countries who aim to join the EU for their slow adoption of EU environmental standards. These include several countries, like Hungary and the Czech Republic, who hoped to join the EU in the first wave. Accession states will need to have in place a minimum framework of EU law before they are accepted into the EU. Particular concerns of the EU Commission focus on disorganised and poorly staffed environmental institutional structures, such as Environmental Ministries and Protection Agencies, which are unable to push the environmental agenda forward at a fast enough rate.

European Eco efficiency initiative

Sponsored by the European Commission’s DG III for Industry, and co-organised by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and European Partners for the Environment (EPE), a two-year long ‘European Eco-Efficiency Initiative’ has been launched to “increase Europe’s competitiveness by fostering the adoption of eco-efficient practices”. The action plan will include: an eco-efficiency award for companies, including SMEs; a series of seminars to derive a governmental eco-efficiency agenda; and a European multi-stakeholder dialogue on which key indicators should be included in a convergence process. The ‘Eco-Efficiency Case Study Collection’ can be found on the WBCSD website.

French VAT on renewables dispute

The French Ministry of Finances is refusing to apply VAT reductions voted by France’s Parliament for renewable energies (urban heating networks and energy from wood burning) on the basis that the reductions are contradictory to current EC VAT regulations. The action means that a million French families served by heating networks would pay a higher rate than those using gas or electricity.

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