Flanders wants discussion on 2040 CO2 targets postponed

Brussels (Belga) – According to the Flemish Minister for Energy and Environment, Zuhal Demir, the Flemish government has asked the European Commission to postpone the discussion on CO2 reduction targets for 2040. The minister asks to focus, for the time being, “on the huge amount of work that still needs to be done today to deliver on earlier commitments.”

A public consultation on 2040 CO2 reduction targets is currently underway at European level. But according to Demir, all Flemish government parties agree that it is a bad idea to start this discussion now. Therefore, the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency sent a formal message to the European Commission on Friday, asking for a postponement.

“The focus of member states in the coming years should be on achieving the already ambitious 2030 targets through concrete measures. The nature of these short-term challenges justifies, in our opinion, postponing the discussion on the 2040 target,” the Flemish government wrote to the European Commission in a public consultation.

The Flemish government believes that the European Commission’s first priority should be to “help member states to accelerate the transition away from imported fossil fuels and to ensure the availability of affordable energy by implementing the agreed dossiers.” 

Demir stressed that “when the time is right,” the Flemish government would contribute constructively to the discussions on setting targets for 2040. (25 June)

Conservative Mitsotakis wins landslide victory in Greek parliamentary elections

Athens (EFE) – Conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis won a landslide victory in Sunday’s elections, breaking several historical records as the first Greek leader since 1974 – the end of dictatorship – to improve his results after one term in power.

With 96.6 percent of the votes counted, Mitsotakis’ conservative New Democracy (ND) had won 40.5 percent of the vote. These figures guarantee the conservatives an absolute majority with 158 of the 300 seats in the Greek parliament, compared to just 47 for the left-wing opposition Syriza, led by former prime minister Alexis Tsipras, which won just 17.8 percent of the vote.

This is the first time since the fall of the military dictatorship in 1974 that a ruling party has managed to improve its results and also widen the gap to the opposition. It is also the first time since the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2010 that a Greek prime minister has been re-elected after a four-year term. (25 June)

Vienna and Rome want “paradigm shift” in EU asylum system

Furth bei Göttweig (dpa) – Austria and Italy want to take clear decisions on the reform of the EU asylum system at the next EU summit in Brussels this week. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni emphasised this at the “Europaforum Wachau” in the Austrian town of Furth near Göttweig on Saturday.

Meloni and Nehammer were “close allies in the fight against illegal migration,” they said. The European Council of heads of state and government will meet in Brussels on 29 and 30 June.

“Europe’s asylum system has failed,” said Nehammer. “The EU needs to move from talk to action, to actually implement asylum procedures at the external border and, above all, to go a step further and conclude strong agreements on asylum procedures in third countries outside the EU,” he added.

Meloni said she and Nehammer were pulling together to bring about a “paradigm shift” in the EU. She said she hoped for concrete decisions at the summit. (24 June)

EU green-lights destruction of surplus wine stocks

Paris (AFP) – The European Commission has approved the principle of destroying surplus stocks of red and rosé wine in its member states, including France and Spain, and compensating producers facing a market crisis.

“Under wine national support programmes, it will now be possible for member states to include crisis distillation to remove the excess of wine from the market,” the Commission said in a press release.

This exceptional measure, which has been awaited by winegrowers for several months, should allow them to convert surplus quantities into pure alcohol for industrial use (perfume, hydroalcoholic gel, etc.).

Member states will have to target the regions or types of wine most affected by the imbalance between supply and demand. In France, this will mainly concern wines from the Bordeaux region. This region has also set up a programme to dig up surplus vines.

“The wine distilled is taken out of the market, and the alcohol obtained can only be used for non-food purposes to avoid a distortion of competition,” the Commission said. (23 June 2023)

Romania to become EU’s largest natural gas producer

Bucharest (Agerpres) – The head of Romanian oil company OMV Petrom, Christina Verchere, said on Thursday that the first gas volumes from the Neptun Deep project will be produced in 2027, making Romania the largest natural gas producer in the European Union.

The remarks were made during an event marking the announcement by OMV Petrom and Romgaz of the development of the Neptun Deep project, the largest natural gas project in the Romanian Black Sea region.

OMV Petrom’s CEO said that the announcement of the final investment decision for the Neptun Deep project represented “a new and essential chapter for the Romanian energy sector.” She noted that the project would support the country’s “energy security” and make it a “very important player” in this market.

“The estimated production is about 30 times the annual demand, which covers 4.3 million households. The estimated revenue for the Romanian state would be 20 billion euros. Neptun Deep is a very important step for our 2030 strategy, which aims to support the energy transition of Romania and the region,” she added.

Verchere said that there are two fields, Domino and Pelican South, at a depth of 100-1,000 metres. Ten wells will extract the natural gas, which will flow to a new offshore platform.

“These facilities will be operated remotely via digital replication, which will allow for safety and process optimisation. The gas will be processed on the onshore platform and then sent through a pipeline that will be connected to the national grid,” said Verchere.

The CEO of the national gas company Romgaz, Răzvan Popescu, said that the development of the Neptun Deep project was a historic decision that would bring undeniable benefits to Romania’s energy security and independence. (22 June)

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