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The European Union (EU) is moving towards supporting environment-friendly road t ...

The European Union (EU) is moving towards supporting environment-friendly road transport, rather than dedicating resources to promoting public transport, a European Parliament debate organised by the Automobile and Society Forum, has heard. The European Commission (EC) is currently reviewing its 2001 transport White Paper and its working papers have noted ‘disappointment’ over the results of the EU’s pro-public transport policies, writes Keith Nuthall. Brussels officials said a transport Green Paper would be issued next year, taking these concerns forward. In other EU news: *The EC has cleared the acquisition of sole control of Compañía Española de Petróleos (Cepsa) of Spain by French petrol company Total. It has also cleared the proposed acquisition of the gas and electricity retail arm of Dutch company Cogas by Electrabel Nederland. *Russia’s Gazprom will develop the Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea alone, scuppering the hopes of Norway and the EU to integrate Russian energy fields with western Europe via Arctic energy projects. *Malta has been threatened with legal action by the EC over its failure to abide by EU free trade rules through its refusal to abolish its monopoly for importing, storing and wholesaling petroleum products. *Brussels is preparing European Court of Justice (ECJ) action against Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain for failing to submit plans on cutting their greenhouse gases between 2008 and 2012. *The EC has proposed reforming the EU ship classification societies regime, establishing an independent system for certifying quality control systems of approved societies and introducing fines for those failing to meet standards. *Some EU Member States are planning such heavy expenditure on carbon-reduction investments in the developing world to buy carbon credits to meet their Kyoto Protocol commitments that they are failing to cut domestic emissions. WWF research branded Ireland, Spain and Poland the worst offenders. *The ECJ has censured Italy over its failure to implement EU Directive 2003/96/EC, which extended minimum EU rates of taxation from liquid to solid fuels. An ECJ advocate general has also recommended the court brand an illegal restraint on trade a Sicily eco-tax on using a pipeline carrying natural gas from Algeria. *Legal proceedings taken by the EC against Italy over its prevention of foreign energy giants controlling its gas utilities have been dropped after Rome liberalised its energy takeover laws. However, the Commission has told Spain it should liberalise similar powers it has awarded to its energy regulator, the Comisión Nacional de Energía (CNE). *Russia and Ukraine for the first time attended a meeting of the EU Gas Coordination Group, which recently met in Brussels to ensure the EU has sufficient gas supplies this winter. *The European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform’s (HFP) 48 companies have signed a declaration on creating a joint technology initiative (JTI), which would pump euro 6.7bn in private investment into hydrogen technology. *The EC has proposed creating a global risk capital fund to promote private investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in developing countries and so-called transition economies, such as in eastern Europe. The Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF) will be pump-primed with euro 80mn from Brussels. *Special EU subsidies of euro 45 per hectare for energy crop production have been extended to eight more EU Member States - the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. *The EC has approved a euro 44.85mn Bavarian government aid package to Ethylene Pipeline Süd for constructing a pipeline to carry petrochemical ethylene across Germany. *Brussels’ research directorate general has ‘welcomed’ the German University of Münster’s use of genetically modified E-coli bacteria from plants to produce a new biodiesel called ‘micro-diesel’.

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