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There is currently no relief in sight in the Ukraine crisis. Yesterday, the USA declared that it would send troops to Poland, Romania, and a smaller contingent to Germany. About 1000 soldiers are to be transferred from Vilseck near Nuremberg to Romania, in return for which 300 soldiers previously stationed in the USA will come to Middle Franconia. Another 1700 are to be sent to Poland. Ministry spokesman John Kirby spoke of an “unmistakable signal” to Vladimir Putin that “NATO is important to the USA and our allies”. From Moscow, on the other hand, Boris Johnson and members of his government received unfriendly remarks. De-escalation and diplomacy, as Emmanuel Macron and Putin presented it only a few days ago, look different.
Brussels was also on edge yesterday when Finance Commissioner Mairead McGuinness presented the final Commission proposal for the second delegated act on the EU taxonomy. In the past weeks, the authority had to face criticism from all sides for its preliminary draft to supplement the EU taxonomy. Nevertheless, the Brussels authority stuck to its plans to include natural gas and nuclear energy in the set of rules for sustainable financial transactions and to classify them as “green” under certain conditions.
Only minor adjustments had been announced by the responsible parties. For example, the regulations for gas-fired power plants were further relaxed compared to the previously hotly debated draft. Much to the delight of industry. Environmentalists, on the other hand, are up in arms. Whether the controversial plan can be overturned before it comes into force remains doubtful. Timo Landenberger and Charlotte Wirth have summed up the reactions.
For decades, experts from industry and research have been negotiating technical specifications and procedures in Europe’s standardization bodies, away from the public eye and largely untroubled by politics. The EU Commission wants to change that: Governments, industry, and experts should sit down at the same table and prevent Europe from losing more ground to China or the USA. After all, what was long a playground for nerds has now become a playing field for major geopolitics. Till Hoppe analyzes the goal the Commission is pursuing with its new standardization strategy.
Taxonomy: the dispute continues
EU Finance Commissioner Mairead McGuinness spoke of an “important step towards a climate-neutral economy”. On Wednesday, the European Commission officially presented its delegated act on the so-called taxonomy, in which nuclear energy and natural gas were still classified as sustainable transition solutions under certain conditions. The draft called them a “key evolution of the financial sector towards sustainability,” helping the EU meet its ambitious climate goals.
In recent weeks, however, there had been criticism of the project from many sides. The scientists of the Platform for Sustainable Finance, an expert group of the Commission that was originally entrusted with the development of the taxonomy criteria, had also demanded significant improvements. However, the Brussels-based authority only complied with these demands in small parts.
For gas-fired power plants, the experts had called for the limits of 270 grams of CO2 per kWh or a maximum of 550 kg of CO2 per year to be tightened significantly. The Commission did not follow this call. Instead, the regulations were even relaxed and the interim targets for blending lower-CO2 gases were removed. The only requirement that remained was that gas-fired power plants should perform a so-called fuel switch to renewable or low-CO2 gasses by 2035.