Eu in brief

Energy efficiency: new rules for building The air traffic problems caused by the ash of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano delayed and even prevented the participation of MEPs at the plenary meeting of the European Parliament, scheduled for April 19-22 (only 408 of 736 MEPs attended). The working agenda was thus adjourned, while a series of hanging legislative provisions underwent Parliament debate. A package of building energy efficiency regulations was postponed for debate in May along with the new layout of the Community energy efficiency label. Such measures ensue those on climate changes adopted in 2008 in conjunction with EU Council, whose final implementation requires the green light by the Assembly. According to the EP press office, “The proposal will lower energy bills for consumers, and is aimed at reaching the EU’s climate change target, namely, reducing 20% of the energy consumption by 2020”. It prescribes that all new buildings must be “nearly zero energy buildings” by 2020 “with periodic inspection of household gas and air-conditioning systems”. “The mandatory labelling of household appliances and energy-saving products will provide consumers with more information before purchase”. Accordingly, all new buildings must “have high energy-efficiency standards and have a high share of energy from renewable sources”. New buildings occupied and owned by public authorities “will pave the way to the changes”. The Community budget will provide for part of the funding. EU Funds and European regional development If put to advantage, “European funds deliver positive outcomes for citizens, regions and enterprises”, was the key message of Commissioner Johannes Hahn, commenting on an ERDF report. Figures relating to the period 2000-2006 show that “funding delivered concrete results” across Member States. To this regard Hahn said that 1.4 million gross jobs were created, along with highways for two thousand kilometres, and 14 million inhabitants have been served by ‘purer’ drinking water projects. “These figures highlight the importance of the cohesion policy which has led to investment that produced visible results for individuals and economic systems whilst conveying EU efficiency”, added the Danish politician. Hahn also noted that funds are not always allocated to useful projects and for this reason each year the EU reallocates resources according to Member States’ efficiency in valuing Community investment. CE marking for consumer and enterprise protection Member State citizens must have noted the EC (European Conformity) marking on products. The logo was created 15 years ago to promote the free circulation of goods in the single market while protecting consumer rights. “Whenever you see the CE logo on a product you know that it meets the EU’s health, safety and environmental protection standards”. The Commission launches an information campaign on the CE conformity mark for consumers and businesses. Indeed, states a note by the Commission, “Not only does the mark improve user safety, it was also set up to ease the free movement of goods throughout the EU’s large market”. As a “mark of confidence” the CE logo is a “passport” that allows products to circulate unhindered throughout the European economic area, (the 27 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechenstein and Norway). “No other formality is needed to import a product into the EU or export it to another member country”. By affixing the CE mark on a product, “the manufacturer, importer and distributor take full responsibility for its conformity with EU law”. The Commission underlines that “more than 30% of industrial products – including computers, toys and electrical appliances – can be sold on the EU market only if they bear the mark”.

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