Euro Info – October no. 1

The information below is from the euractiv website for more detailed information on these and other items please go to www.euractiv.com

Spain wants UK to foot healthcare bill for British citizens
The Spanish government intends to broker a deal with the United Kingdom under which the outgoing EU member state would cover the healthcare costs of the British diaspora living in Spain. EurActiv Spain reports.At an event in Alicante Thursday (30 September), focused on what effect Brexit could have on local business, Spain’s foreign affairs minister said that an agreement between Madrid and London would have to be made on healthcare provision.

MEPs oppose ‘immoral’ suspension of EU funds for Spain and Portugal
A broad majority of MEPs spoke against freezing EU funds for Spain and Portugal at a European Parliament session late on Monday (3 October), saying such a decision would be “immoral”, “unfair”, “counterproductive” and even “illegal”. During a joint session of the Economic Affairs and Regional Development committees yesterday evening, legislators strongly rejected the European Commission’s attempt to punish the two Iberian economies for breaking EU fiscal rules.

NGOs criticise the Juncker Plan’s green credentials
15% of Juncker Plan funding supports fossil fuel projects, according to a report by group of NGOs, which raises serious questions about the investment plan’s consistency with the EU’s climate objectives. EurActiv France reports. The report skewered Europe’s flagship investment programme for not doing enough to support the EU’s fight against climate change.

Surge in electric cars could strain energy grid, warns EU agency
The large scale roll-out of electric cars on EU roads will help fight climate change but more electricity will have to be generated to power the vehicles which, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has warned, could have its own impact on global warming. The European Environment Agency this week said that larger numbers of electric vehicles will not be enough to make to the transition to a low-carbon economy. The EU’s transport sector still depends on oil for 94% of its energy needs.

Industrial agriculture threatens to drive German smallholders into ruin
The existence of many farms in Germany is dependent on the level of economic pressure and competition brought by larger scale holdings. More and more small farmers are being driven into ruin and the environment is paying a hefty price. EurActiv Germany reports.“The world has changed,” said Stephanie Wild from the Solidarische Landwirtschaft network (SOLAWI), a community-supported agriculture project. “Agriculture, which hoovers up resources, is all about short-term yields, but is not sustainable,” she claimed. Since the beginning of industrial agriculture, the world has lost about 40% of its fertile soil, she said. How we produce meat and milk is also highly questionable. “We produce all of this animal feed all over the world, keep animals in bad conditions and overuse medication, creating anti-biotic resistance.”

Orbán loses his referendum gamble, remains defiant
Hungary’s populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán suffered a blow  (2 October) in his revolt against the European Union after low voter turnout voided his referendum aimed at rejecting a contested migrant quota plan.Although a whopping 99.8% of voters backed his bid to reject the proposal, overall turnout fell well short of a 50% threshold. Only 3.3 million of the eight-million-strong electorate cast a valid vote, and the National Election Committee declared the referendum void after counting the ballots on Sunday evening.

Commission proposes export controls to rein in surveillance technologies, to industry fury
EU companies are about to get hit with a controversial new export control law that faced a wave of criticism this summer from technology firms that fear that it will destroy their business abroad. The European Commission proposed changes (28 September) to a seven-year-old law requiring special export controls for so-called dual-use items that can be used for military or civil use. Under the new rules, surveillance technologies will fall under an EU export control law for the first time.

Ireland’s alcohol bill pleases EU health chief, irritates industry
The Irish government won praise from the EU’s Health Commissioner over a new bill, which imposes a stricter framework on alcohol consumption in Ireland, including a minimum unit price, labelling and marketing restrictions. Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Ireland’s Health Minister, told EurActiv.com that the bill was a top priority for the government and that she had the support of Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU’s Health Commissioner. Spirit and beer makers, for their part, claim the measures will disrupt trade in the EU’s Single Market and that Andriukaitis’s views are not shared by the whole Commission. Alcohol-related harm is a severe social problem for Dublin and a political headache for the government. Across Europe, harm related to excessive alcohol consumption accounts for over 7% of all illness and early deaths.