Stefan Scheuer S.P.R.L is a management consultancy, developing and implementing training and advice on environmental and energy policies and EU public affairs.
Its objective is to support public interests in a transparent way to achieve change on the ground for people and their environment.
mail [at] stefanscheuer.eu
tel +32 (0) 223 520 10
Brussels, 19 February 2013
The European Commission published on 5 February its review of REACH, the EU's chemicals safety regulation. The analysis, five years after the new rules entered into force, shows that there is still a long way to go to shift the current burden from public authorities to prove chemical risks to chemical companies to demonstrate the safety of their products. About 8,000 chemical substances have been registered but the quality of the data provided is yet to be verified. Only some 100 chemical substances with properties of very high concern (over 1,000 substances are expected to fall in this category) have been selected as candidates for the specific authorisation procedure in REACH, which would raise the bar for industry to prove safe use. No authorisation procedure has yet been started. This means that competent authorities and agencies are not fully using the possibilities provided by REACH. In its review the European Commission does not recognise the problem. Indeed, REACH is a generational project, which may also require a new generation of people to use it more effectively. Meanwhile we will have to rely on industry, which does not wait to release new chemicals or invest now in developing safer alternatives to hazardous substances. Environmental NGOs are nonetheless giving some useful encouragement with their Substitute It Now (SIN) list of 626 substances, which are believed to be of very high concern.
Brussels, 5 February 2013
A report released last month by the European Environment Agency (EEA) found that the application of the precautionary principle is "nearly always beneficial', a warning to EU policymakers to consider environmental and health risks even in light of scientific uncertainty. There are an abundant number of cases where a wait and see approach led to high costs and human suffering. The EEA in its report could only confirm four clear instances of 'false alarm'.
EU legislators are about to add another late lesson to the long list of early warnings by postponing water quality standards for hormone disrupting pharmaceuticals. The European Commission proposed for the first time to set standards for the pharmaceuticals in water. The substances concerned are ethinyl oestradiols, which are found to be hazardous to ecosystems and humans, toxic to fish reproduction and linked to increasing human infertility, with warnings that date back 40 years. The pharmaceutical industry defends its business case. Politicians worry about the costs that citizens supposedly would have to pay for removing these pharmaceuticals from the urban waste water, instead of acknowledging the problem and discussing who should pick up the bill.
Brussels, 4 October 2012
Today, Europe's first comprehensive energy saving law with binding targets and efficiency measures, the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), passed the final legislative hurdle with the adoption by Member States at a Council meeting in Brussels.
The EED is important because it holds the key to end the negligence of our energy system for demand management and to realise huge financial, social and environmental benefits. At a time where protests against unemployment and austerity hit the streets of a number of European capitals, the baton that is now being passed on to the 27 Member States of the EU to take it towards the finish line, is an opportunity for governments to create jobs, reduce deficits and enable the transition to a sustainable energy system.
See the full article published in e!sharp
Brussels, 30 August 2012
The European Commission's recommendations for a new EU industrial policy, scheduled for publication September 2012, could be a good opportunity to make the case for new regulation to grow industrial activities, which not only increase GDP, but first and foremost create social and environmental revenues - local and stable jobs and less pollution. This means addressing the inherent failure of markets to account for those externalities.
Unfortunate that EU's employers federation BUSINESSEUROPE goes the other way. It warns against a 'proliferation' of legislative initiatives. It questions policy objectives, like air quality, resource efficiency and renewable and efficient energy management, that are set to correct market failures. And it does not speak about the policies that distort markets by subsidising inefficiency or limiting liability for public damage.
Recent EU policy examples, such as energy efficiency policy, show that legislation is required to speed up the evolution of EU industry towards a sustainable and globally competitive model and unlock its massive job creation potential. Voluntary and business-led approaches are promoted by incumbent dominant players that do not have an interest in structural change. But they have proven insufficient to promote long-term objectives and overcome non-market barriers. Improving competitiveness is good as long as the competition is about how to best deliver public benefits.
Brussels, 31 June 2012
The European Commission referred Germany to court for failing to consider sectors like hydropower or inland navigation in paying for the costs of the related water services and for the environmental and resource costs. Germany so far only covers public water supply and waste water treatment services in implementing water pricing policies under the EU Water Framework Directive. The Directive requires that all sectors make an adequate contribution to recover costs of water services and pay for environmental costs according to the polluter pays principle.
Brussels, 22 March 2012
A decade after the EU's major water policy reform a new publication tells the story of ten rivers across Europe. More information than ever is available about the status of those rivers exposing new types of damages and threats. In particular increasing commercial demand for resources, like land, energy and materials, combined with increasing ecosystem demand for water, causes stress and reduces room for manoeuvre.
Brussels, November 2011
Over the last two months the European Commission issued final warnings to 10 Member States over their failure to correctly apply EU water protection rules under the Water Framework Directive. The Directive requires national water pricing policies to provide incentives for all water users, like agriculture, industry and households, to reduce the environmental impacts.
The ten countries ( Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland) are systematically excluding certain water services, mainly industrial and agricultural water uses, like hydropower, navigation, cooling and irrigation water, from water pricing policies.
This warning comes five years after an unprecedented collective complaint from environmental NGOs to the Commission to tackle this problem in 11 countries. In their list was also Poland which meanwhile has changed its approach. The 10 countries now have two months to respond to the Commission warning, otherwise the case will be brought to the European Court of Justice.
Germany, which was the first to receive the warning on 29 October 2011, asked for 2 months extra time to respond. In Germany the 16 Laender are in charge of water management. Most of them exclude water services for energy, agriculture and navigation water uses from their water pricing analysis although these water uses are commonly identified as causing significant damage to aquatic ecosystems. This means that somebody else, like the tax payer or municipal water user might have to pick up the bill.
Brussels, October 2011
The Coalition for Energy Savings appointed Stefan Scheuer SPRL to manage the Coalition secretariat. Stefan Scheuer will act as Secretary General of the Coalition, which brings together business, professional and civil society organisations and aims to ensure that energy efficiency becomes a top priority in EU energy policies in order to achieve the EU 20% energy saving target and get on track for 2050.
Brussels, 18 July 2011
The European Commission did not address in its recommendations to the June European Council the failure of Member States to set coherent and consistent energy efficiency targets in their National Reform Programmes. Although only five of the 27 NRPs contain a target in line with the EU 20%, not one of the Commission's indicative country-specific recommendations mentions targets at all, and only six mention energy efficiency (read more here).
This reluctance from the Commission to consider energy efficiency as an integral part of economic recovery and stability and interfere in intergovernmental processes demonstrates the importance of legislation to achieve change. The Commission proposal for an Energy Efficiency Directive from 22 June is a key element in this perspective. But it will require substantial work to clarify the target setting issue.
The European Energy Review published a detailed analysis of the Commission's Energy Efficiency Directive on 14 July.
Brussels, 31 May 2011 An analysis of the energy savings targets reported in the first National Reform Programmes this year, following the adoption of Europe 2020 last year, shows that ambitions are not comparable and inconsistent with what is needed to meet Europe's 20% objective. Failing the objective would waste consumers money: up to 78 billion Euro annually in 2020.
The UK, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the Czech Republic did not set a target. Nine countries present uncomparable or unclear targets. Only five of the 14 comparable national targets, do set a level of ambition similar to the EU 20% savings target by 2020.
This situation could be improved by deciding how to share the energy savings efforts amongst the 27 countries in the upcoming Energy Efficiency Directive, as for example done by the succesful Renewable Energy Directive. But the European Commission has postponed this work to its 2013 scheduled review of the 20% target.
Meanwhile the Commission intends to produce in June 2011 an assessment of the targets reported in the NRPs and present its recommendations.
Brussels, 18 April 2011. Boilers consume more energy than all cars together. As people normally do not care about their design, they should be an easy an immediate target for EU energy and climate policies. Far from it. Only after several years of delay the Commission finally released on 31 March its proposal for an Ecodesign measure to set energy efficiency requirements on boilers. The level of ambition is judged by green NGOs and experts as way too low: for typical domestic boilers under 15kW, the standard would not even reach the level of condensing boilers –already commonplace in many EU countries. Nevertheless this measure could still achieve up to 30 Mtoe energy savings by 2020. This is about 8 million cars less on European roads.
Brussels, January 2011. National energy efficiency ambitions are expected to reduce EU's energy demand according to research done by Stefan Scheuer. National renewable energy action plans from 2010 show that energy demand in 2020 would drop nearly 5% below 2005 levels. But this is still insufficient to achieve Europe's energy saving target for 2020; nor does it realise all energy saving measures which achieve net financial savings for consumers. The picture is quite diverse: a number of countries are still to increase energy demand while heavyweights, including Germany, UK and France are set to reduce theirs. The research report, published together with the European Climate Foundation, can be downloaded here.
Strasbourg, 15/12/2010. The European Parliament adopted by a large majority a report on the revision of the EU Energy Efficiency Action Plan. It calls for the the EU to make its 20% energy savings target binding and request the Commission to propose in the revised EEAP next year national targets which together should add up to at least the 20% EU wide target. Such an effort sharing is common in EU energy and climate policies but countries so far are reluctant to accpet this in the case of energy efficiency. The Energy Savings 2020 report, launched last September, demonstrated that the EU is about to miss its 20% target by half and thus missing some 78 billion Euro savings annually by 2020 and increasing Europes dependency on energy imports.
Click here for the EP report on the vote.
Brussels, 01/12/2010. Penguins protest at the European Commission head office in Brussels for more efficient products. A new report published by the Coolproducts campaign highlights the potential benefits of energy efficiency requirements for products, like televisions, lighting and washing machines, adopted so far in the EU. Consumers could get more efficient products while still saving money. Requirements for water heaters and boilers hold the biggest overall saving potential but have been delayed by at least one year now. The current draft requirements are too weak to realise the full potential.
Click here for the full report.
Europe is not on track to phase out emissions of priority hazardous substances as set out by its Water Framework Directive from 2000. According to the a legal review by Stefan Scheuer, published by the Environmental Law Network International, EU implementation of the 2000 phase out requirements has been inadequate. The EU has set water quality standards following an outdated procedure which is not in line with applying the precautionary principle and the emission phase out objective as set by the law.
Click here for the full report.
Brussels, 15/09/2010. Ecofys and Fraunhofer ISI present today the report Energy Savings 2020: How to triple the impact of energy savings in Europe, commissioned by the European Climate Foundation and the Regulatory Assistance Project. The report assesses the impact of current EU energy and climate policies and finds that they are insufficient to achieve Europe's 20% energy saving objective. Closing the saving gap requires a tripling of efforts. It can can be done by realising the yet untapped cost-effective energy end use savings. Doing this comes along with some 80 billion Euro savings per year for consumers and corresponds to avoided power capacities in the range of 160 coal fired power plants with an average 500 MW capacity each. To realise this the report recommends to step up the political commitment to energy savings and finds that binding national energy consumption targets would be useful therefore.
Click here for the Energy Savings 2020 webpage.
Brussels, 07/07/2010. EU Member States are found to leave restoration of surface waters to future generations. A newly released report on the quality of the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive authored by Stefan Scheuer and published by the European Environmental Bureau finds that EU governments abuse exemptions provided by the Directive to procrastinate actions to clean up surface waters to good ecological and chemical status. The few countries which provided river basin management plans and information as required by the Directive merely aim at tackling nutrient pollution in 1/3 of all damaged waters by 2015 leaving the difficult remainder for the 2021 or 2027 deadlines. Many countries completely fail to provide plans in time or with sufficient data, even for the well know nutrient pollution problems caused mainly by unsustainable agri-businesses.
Brussels, 12/05/2010. A Greenpeace report reveals that Czech Republic, Germany, the UK, Slovakia and Spain are ignoring their legal obligations to act on phasing out nonylphenol emissions into their waters. Nonylphenol is used in a range of products, including textiles from which they leach into urban sewage systems and escape into rivers. It causes feminisation of marine life, increases the risk of cancer and reduces fertility. The EU identified nonylphenol in 2001 as toxic chemical to be phased out within 20 years. The five countries investigated cannot demonstrate in their river basin management plans that they act accordingly. There is strong evidence that this case is symptomatic of a failure from governments to deal with other highly toxic substances in European rivers.
Click here for the full report
Click here for a good article(in German) on the topic.
Brussels, February 2010. Environmental NGOs expressed their concerns regarding the development of so-called Self-Regulation Initiatives in the implementation of the Eco-design directive. They called on the European Commission to take up its responsibilities and hand them too lightly to the industry without the safeguards normally provided by the consultation and impact assessment process. The Eco-design policy is one of the EU's most powerful tools to trigger energy savings and rid the market from the most wasteful products.
For the full text of the letter,: click here>>
February 2010. The Cool products for a cool planet partners organise an event on the 23rd of March on the occasion of the EUSEW 2010. The speakers and panelists will discuss how the EU Ecodesign policy can finally trigger the huge energy savings potential of energy-using appliances.
Draft programme of the event: Click here>>
November 2009. The EU Cohesion Policy will not deliver the required structural changes in Central and Eastern Europe. A report by CEE Bankwatch and Friends of the Earth, presented on 17 November at a conference on climate proofing EU funds in the European Parliament, reveals a huge implementation deficit: only 5.7% of EU funds allocated to energy efficiency and 16.3% for energy efficiency have been awarded to projects, nearly 3 years into the programming period. The EU Cohesion Policy needs a fundamental reform to put all Member States on the path of the transition to a sustainable and decarbonised economy.
For the full report and press release click here>>
June 2009. Many environmentalists sympathise with the European Parliament - at least those who deal with it on a regular basis. It is the only institution - within this often technocratic and elitist European Union project - which represents citizens and often defends their interests, bringing real-life politics into it, often for the benefit of the environment. It has been painful to see participation in this 2009 elections falling to further lows, and extremists and anti-Europeans gaining ground. Does this mean the new Parliament will have less legitimacy and less power? Will it be less environmentally friendly than its predecessors?
You can find the full article at Click here>>
May 2009. Water protection is at a crossroads in Europe. The EU has set in motion a unique water management reform process. Across the EU, governments are engaging in one of the biggest, most coordinated consultation exercises ever on plans to restore the ecology of our river basins by 2015. A survey-based assessment has confirmed that a mobilisation has taken place in most river basins. At the same time significant parts of Europe are seriously lagging behind at government and civil society levels. While Providing more space for rivers is an emerging new issue to be tackled, reducing water use has not yet been mainstreamed into water management plans. This omission weakens the relevance of water policy in determining or playing a role in shaping climate and energy policies and in delivering sustainable development strategies. Political leadership is missing to grasp the opportunity arising from developing long-term river basin plans, to increase regional cooperation, to respond to climate change and ecosystem collapse and to provide lasting solutions to the economic crisis.
You can find the full report at Click here>>
November 2008. Germana Canzi, business journalist and environmental policy expert, and Stefan Scheuer, formed the new firm: europe, planet earth Ltd. The firm, based in London, brings together a wide range of experience in environmental and energy policy and EU affairs and communication. europe, planet earth provides its services to civil society and public organisations to increase their capacities in promoting sustainable policies. Currently the firm implements a major project to ensure ambitious European energy efficiency requirements for products, like heating, TVs and lighting.
For further information click here>>
18 November 2008. The European Environmental Bureau and WWF launch benchmarks for Europe's water policy: Europe's water at the crossroads. Five headline indicators are presented to measure progress in the ongoing water management reforms under the EU Water Framework Directive. The indicators look at issues like transparency and public onwership of river basin management, provision of more space and water to enhance aquatic ecosystems and making them more resilient to climate change.
Download the publication Click here>>
June 2008. The EU made a deal for its new waste policy. The new Waste Framework Directive "should help to move the EU closer to a 'recycling society'", by preventing and recycling waste. But under the deal European Parliament's demands for prevention targets would bee postponed to 2014. Its demands for overall recycling targets would be reduced to a small fraction of our waste: plastic, paper, metal and glass from households and construction and demolition waste. Meanwhile waste incineration is supported generously with EU money, leaving policy makers with a big challenge on how to achieve a recycling society in practice. The European Parliament will vote on the deal 17 June.
See Friends of the Earth Press Release Click here>>
See CEE Bankwatch Report on EIB financing for the incineration industry Click here>>
Jan 2008. Europe's network of national energy agencies (EnR) finds that progress in saving energy in buildings is slow. EnR has great expectations into the potential of the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, nevertheless they find that 1/3 of countries have not yet adopted legal minimum energy performance requirements or put in place measures to achieve them as the Directive requires. The European Commission wants to strengthen the Directive this year.
Download report Click here>>
See the Press Release Click here>>