miercuri, 13 mai 2009

EUROPE: Help the Economy, Hurt the Environment

BUCHAREST, May 13 (IPS) - The European Economic Recovery Plan devised by the European Commission last year to help deal with the financial crisis is likely to fast-track environmentally damaging projects in the new member states.

One of the tenets of the European Economic Recovery Plan (EERP), launched in November 2008 by European Commission (EC) president Jose Manuel Barroso, is acceleration of payments to new EU member states from the European Structural and Cohesion Funds and the European Investment Bank.

The accelerated funds, amounting to about 23 billion euros, are destined mainly for infrastructure development, and are considered essential by the EC to creating employment and assisting the economic recovery of the Central and Eastern European countries.

The EERP, which was approved by the European Parliament in March 2009, stresses the need for "smart" investments through promotion of clean technologies, support for micro-enterprises, and programmes for re-training labour.

But environment groups warn that these payments could be used by the new member states for infrastructure projects that are environmentally costly, have better alternatives, or are not sustainable in the long run.


Publicatie noua: Natura 2000 - successful, flexible, modern - Facts and findings

NATURA 2000 provides us with the best achievement of Europe in protecting biodiversity. Since its creation, nearly 20 percent of Europe’s territory has been included in the network of NATURA 2000.

Including now about 25.000 sites in all 27 Member States, NATURA 2000 is seen as the cornerstone of the EU’s biodiversity work and represents one of the world’s most modern and ambitious approaches to halt the loss of biodiversity.

NATURA 2000 sites maintain and provide a number of ecosystem services crucial for human well-being. Some sites preserve habitat types that provide important services: wetlands crucial for water purification and retention, peat bogs important for carbon storage and forested mountain areas that help prevent ero-sion and landslide. The sites can also function as ‘refuges’ and breeding places for local biodiversity like pollinating insects, game animals and fish.

First successes:
NATURA 2000 is the cornerstone of EU’s biodiversity work. Although the overall trend in halting the loss of biodiversity is continuing, there are positive trends for some species. The recovery of some of the large carnivores is also an encouraging indicator.

Flexible management:
NATURA 2000 allows adjustments in conservation objectives and management plans which is needed to address – for example – the future impact of climate change.

Modern assessment of impacts:
NATURA 2000 does no look at the type of a project, but only its actual impact on the site in need of protection. It guarantees ecological sustainability while allowing for economic development.

Download the full report for more information.

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luni, 11 mai 2009

MEPs back Bulgarian environmentalists

At its last session in the current mandate the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament reviewed petitions regarding Natura 2000 in Bulgaria that had been submitted by Bulgarian citizens. The committee decided to send an insistent letter to EU Commissioner for Environment Stavros Dimas demanding no further delay in punitive procedures on the most urgent and severe cases. Besides, the Petitions Committee will ask the European Ombudsman to investigate the European Commission for its passive stance on offences in Bulgaria and for its slow reaction.

Yesterday, 30/4, ecologists held a "Last Waltz" demonstration in front of the ministry, trying to catch the ministers attention on the breaches against the Natura 2000 declaration for protection of the Bulgarian nature. A delegation has been sent to Bruxells, to raise attention from the European Union on the topic.

200 citizens participated in the protests on Wednesday against the prepared limitations on demonstrations.


Europe Will Miss 2010 Biodiversity Protection Target

ATHENS, Greece, April 28, 2009 (ENS) - A European Commission conference on biodiversity in Athens today acknowledged that the European target of halting the loss of biodiversity across the continent by 2010 will not be met.

While some progress has been made in halting the decline of plant and animal species, the original target is unlikely to be met, concluded the high-level gathering that included Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Barroso told the delegates that the European Commission has been at the forefront of the battle against climate change, and now must put urgent effort into the related issue of biodiversity protection.

"The success of our climate change policy will also be measured by the success of our efforts in stopping the loss of biodiversity," Barroso said. "These issues – like so many of the challenges that we face – are irrevocably interrelated, just as the link with energy and energy security has helped to develop our understanding of the importance of climate change."