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Tag ‘pollution’

Kent part of France

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

‘New map of Britain that makes Kent part of France’
“For centuries the people of Kent have called their county the Garden of England. So they might find it quite a surprise that – according to the European Union at least – they are actually part of France. Along with next-door Sussex, Kent has been rolled in with the Calais areas on a map drawn up for Brussels.”
Daily Mail, 4 September 2006, p.10)

‘New EU map makes Kent part of same ‘nation’ as France’
(Sunday Telegraph, 3 September 2006, p.9 September 2006, p.9))

‘Brussels plot to wipe Britain off the map’
(The Express on Sunday, 3 September 2006, p.10)

‘Wolf at door’
(The Sun, 4 September 2006, p.6)

The EU is not planning to “wipe Britain off the map”. The proposed spatial information database the press articles refer to would support environmental protection in the EU, not redraw the map of Europe.
The planned database would improve European capability to protect biodiversity, fight pollution and prevent floods and fires. There is a clear need for a common EU approach in this field.

More on some specific claims:

“Brussels is to be given powers to harmonise and control all ‘spatial data’”

INSPIRE is not about harmonisation and certainly not about “control”.

It aims to increase the accessibility of spatial data that can be important for environmental policy, and to increase the interoperability of spatial data systems across the EU.

Subject to certain exceptions (such as personal data, commercial confidentiality, national defence, public security etc), the public – and also European institutions – should also have access to data held by public authorities. The aim is thus to create a rather open system of data exchange that allows maximum use to be made of data for policy purposes.

“European database of people’s homes”

It is true that Annex II includes location of properties based on address identifiers.

This is not particularly unusual. British readers might be interested to know, for example, that Ordnance Survey holds data that is detailed enough to show windows on houses. It is already possible to locate streets and houses on the internet using a person’s postcode.

Crucially, INSPIRE will not include any information concerning who owns what: only data concerning the properties themselves.

Furthermore, INSPIRE does not require the collection of any data that doesn’t already exist. It merely sets some rules concerning data that is already held by public authorities.

Such information can indeed be important for a number of policies such as flood risk.

“This could be the first steps in imposing an EU-wide property tax.”

The directive has been drafted for the purpose of supporting primarily environmental policies. There is absolutely no link with any intention to introduce new EU taxes. Obviously, any such move would in any case be subject to national veto.

Some further background:

The EU member states and the Parliament will have to agree on the proposal.

Air treaty could prevent fight against pollution

Monday, February 20th, 2006

‘Open skies’ treaty threatens fight against global warming (The Guardian, 20 February 2006)
Britain could lose its ability to impose environmental taxes, restrictions and safeguards on airlines under a draft treaty between the EU and US which curtails the power of national governments. The draft treaty, meant to liberalise aviation, includes a little noticed clause requiring EU states to reach agreement with each other and with the US before taking measures to tackle noise or pollution from airlines.

This story is factually incorrect in a number of ways. Nothing in the draft agreement would prevent the EU from taking environmental measures in aviation policy. The draft agreement does not place either the EU or the US under any obligation to agree with the other in advance of taking environmental measures, and nothing in the text would curtail the existing powers of national governments in relation to environmental matters. The European Commission will later this year (2006) for instance make a proposal to include aviation in the emissions trading scheme to combat global warming.

The article also states that levies imposed by national governments would be made impossible without prior transatlantic agreement. This is incorrect. The draft agreement would not prevent levies such as the UK’s air passenger duty, which already exists today.

It is also not correct to state that the treaty will be subject to a vote requiring the consent of 65% of member states.
That refers to a voting rule proposed in the draft EU Constitution, which was rejected by referenda in France and the Netherlands in 2005.

EC in the UK

Check the EC Representation in the UK website

Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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