EU Parliament backs higher green energy and energy saving targets

Strasbourg (dpa) – The European Parliament passed two draft bills on Wednesday setting more ambitious targets for boosting renewable energy use while cutting overall energy consumption. EU legislators endorsed increasing the share of green energy consumed in the European Union to 45 percent by 2030. EU capitals had previously backed a binding target of 40 percent.

According to Germany’s Federal Statistical Office, 22 percent of the energy consumed in the European Union and 19 percent in Germany comes from renewable sources. The draft bill also deals with criteria for labeling certain energy sources as green, including biomass and hydrogen. Biomass is considered a sustainable energy source, though activists and scientists have criticized the fact that burning wood, for instance, releases high levels of climate-damaging carbon dioxide (CO2) that would otherwise be bound up in plants. The EU Parliament wants to keep biomass, including wood, a sustainable source of energy but wants to cap its amount and phase out certain subsidies.

Lawmakers also set criteria for defining hydrogen as green, including what power plants can be used to produce it. Hydrogen can be produced with electricity from renewable sources. Lawmakers also voted in favor of introducing higher energy-saving targets. EU countries are to reduce end-user energy consumption by at least 14.4 percent by 2030, compared to 2007 projections.

The European Parliament and the Council, the EU body representing the 27 member states, vote on draft bills to approve their positions before entering negotiations between the different institutions, in which the texts are finalized before the laws enter into force. The two pieces of legislation are part of the bloc’s climate change package dubbed Fit for 55, aiming to reduce climate-damaging emissions by 55% by 2030, when compared to 1990 levels, and reach climate neutrality by 2050. (September 14)

North Macedonia begins the explanatory screening with the EU

Brussels (MIA) – North Macedonia, together with Albania, is starting the explanatory screening with the European Commission on September 15. The last explanatory screening for these two countries ended in 2019, and now it is necessary to update the involved teams on the latest EU acquis.

The European Commission told MIA on September 14 that it remained fully committed to the advancement of the EU process with Skopje and Tirana. “This is the first and significant step in the negotiation process, fully supported by the governments and parliaments of both countries,” European Commission Spokesperson Ana Pisonero told MIA.

She said all parties would have an “intensive work program” in the coming months starting with the Fundamentals. These technical meetings are expected to last about two months, after which the bilateral screenings should begin.

After the bilateral screening is over, North Macedonia will be able to formally start the negotiations by clusters and chapters with the EU, but only if it first changes the Constitution and brings the Bulgarians into it as a constituent nation. (September 15)

Migration: Significant drop in the number of illegal migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo (FENA) – The number of illegal migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) amounted to between 1,500 and 2,000 in 2022, which is a decrease compared to the last two years. According to data from the BiH Ministry of Security, an average of 5,900 migrants stayed in refugee reception centers in BiH in 2020, falling to an average of 3,800 in 2021.

“The Service for Foreigners’ Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina relocated migrants from abandoned buildings and forcibly returned migrants who are in Bosnia and Herzegovina illegally to their countries of origin,” the Ministry told news agency Fena. The State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) and the Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina cooperate in monitoring the country’s border in order to combat human trafficking and smuggling. In addition, the ministry said it had strengthened control and security in the camps. “All these measures have made transit through Bosnia and Herzegovina more expensive, and a significant number of migrants are trying to reach their final destinations using other routes,” the Ministry said.

There are currently about 2,000 migrants in refugee reception centers in BiH. Most of them come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Morocco. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) the migrant situation in BiH is now stable and more favorable than in previous years, with enough accommodation capacity for people on the move who need accommodation. (September 13)

Slovakia: Defence and Security Committee approves the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO

Bratislava (TASR) – The Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Security approved the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO at its meeting on Monday and recommended that the plenary approve the protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty.

In June, the Slovak Government approved the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO and also agreed to ratify the respective protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty. The accession of the Nordic countries to the alliance has yet to be approved by Parliament. It can then be ratified by the President of the Slovak Republic, Zuzana Čaputová.

Finland and Sweden announced their intention to renounce their long-standing neutrality and join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Only Turkey has opposed their requests, demanding concessions from Helsinki and Stockholm in exchange for its agreement to join the alliance. (September 12)

Brussels calls for the Spanish judiciary not to be “hostage” to political debate

The president of the Supreme Court and the CGPJ, Carlos Lesmes, on May 13, 2022. Photo: Tomás Alonso / Europa Press

Madrid (Europa Press) – The Vice-President of the European Commission, Vera Jourová, has called on Spain to renew its most senior judicial body, the National Council for the Judiciary (CGPJ). The demand was made in a letter to CGPJ President Carlos Lesmes in which Jourová reaffirmed the “urgency and absolute priority” of reforming the governing body of judges and it’s appointment system to bring it into line with European standards.

Jourová warned that the Spanish judiciary was in a “dire” situation after almost four years of exercising its functions on an interim basis and that “the correct functioning of all institutions … should not be part of the political debate, even less should it be taken hostage by that debate.”

A legal deadline ended on Tuesday for this body to elect the two judges of the Constitutional Court that it is responsible for appointing, amid mutual accusations between the Government and the main opposition Popular Party (PP) for the current institutional blockade. (September 12)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Wednesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.