Newsletter

Newsletter
Publication of the Institute for European Studies Issue 19, February 2007

IES Starts New Lecture Series on European Identity

Unlike the New World, Europe has become a region of mass migration only in recent times. Although the ratio of migrants to the native population does not yet match that of the US, Canada or Australia, the concentration of immigrants in large cities in an increasing number of Member States of the EU has irrevocably changed their sociological characteristics.

Led by right-wing nationalist political elements, native born citizens seem in many instances to be overwhelmed by such rapid change in the appearance and different cultures in their midst. The more extreme political movements demand restrictions on immigration or the expulsion of those who do not conform, often through no fault of their own, to the strict terms applied to labour migrants or those in need of protection. The more thoughtful press for immigrants to conform to the norms of European society and for compulsory citizenship training so that the newly arrived understand the language, literally and figuratively, and the nature of the society in which they are living.

In order to contribute scientifically to this debate, the IES is organizing a new lecture series on European Identity (or should we say: identities?). The lecture series is organized in collaboration with the University of Kent at Brussels under the auspices of IES Senior Research Fellow Richard Lewis and UKent professor Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels.

Starting on 15 February, the lectures will explore the issues of identity that the important questions on migration and multiculturalism imply, both for Europeans and for the newcomers.

What kind of policies are needed at European, national or local level? How do we create the “vocation” to become a successful citizen and perhaps the notion of a “European Dream”? Or is it more a question of allowing the laissez-faire market oriented attitudes of the U.S to work? What does it mean to be British, French or German; should the nation-state be the essential vehicle for participation and inclusion? Above all, how can immigrants be encouraged to feel that they belong? How can they best reconcile long-held beliefs with the need to belong in a new society and that society’s own long-held beliefs?

The series brings together a renowned group of scholars, practitioners and officials to reflect on these issues. It will take place every Thursday-evening from 18:00 to 20:00 in VUB Aula E.0.04. (read more)

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Lectures on WTO Come to an End

Under the auspices of PILC Director Servaas Van Thiel, the IES has organised a lecture series on the WTO and the Doha round. In the first semester of 2006-2007, a wide audience including the PILC students attended the weekly lectures in which each time another speaker was invited to talk about his field of expertise. After Victor Do Prado, Denis Redonnet, Pieter-Jan Kuijper, Harm Schepel, Prof. Van den Bossche, Louis Morago, Stuart Harbinson and Carlos Cozendey (see former Newsletter), the lectures finished with Jochem Wiers, Marc Pallemaerts, Peter Balas and Jarrod Wiener.

On 5 December, at a point where the WTO lecture series were drawing to a close, a detailed investigation of the trade-environment nexus was undertaken. IES Senior Research Fellow Harri Kalimo introduced the two protagonists Jochem Wiers, counsellor for European affairs at the Dutch embassy in Paris, and former IES Senior Research Fellow Marc Pallemaerts, environmental expert, senior researcher at the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and regular adviser to the Belgian government. Dr. Wiers gave an insightful lecture on how trade and environment – two policy domains bedevilled by definitional troubles – interact in the WTO in general and the Doha Round negotiations in particular. He pointed out that the EU is, in fact, the main proponent of including environmental considerations in the Doha negotiating mandate, whereas many developing countries fear “green protectionism”. There exists anxiety that environmental arguments could be used to create new trade barriers discriminating against developing countries, e.g. by setting high standards in production and processing methods. The WTO-speak was successfully illuminated by clear examples. For instance, should one take urtle-unfriendly fishing methods into account when importing shrimps? Dr. Pallemaerts pointed out that environment is clearly not a priority issue on the WTO’s agenda. The topic is framed in such a way as to exclude the most sensitive issues from the Doha negotiating mandate. The WTO dispute settlement mechanism, although provided with broad jurisdiction, is treading caucautiously in the domain of environment, taking into account the larger international context. The main effect of the WTO in environmental regulation, he argued, is to have made policy-makers wary of environmental measures that might breach trade rules. In the lively discussion that followed, the various participants voiced cautious optimism regarding both the possibility of reviving Doha and of furthering environmental protection outside the WTO framework.

The last lecture in this lecture series took place on 11 December, addressing the future of the World Trade System. Dr. Peter Balas, Deputy Director-General Trade of the European Commission and former Permanent Representative of Hungary to the WTO, gave his personal opinions on the main challenges facing the WTO. Firstly, he briefly talked about the implications of a possible failure of the current Doha Round. Even though the EU recently communicated that it would fall back to bilateral negotiations in such a scenario, Dr. Balas stressed the disadvantages of this alternative. Secondly, he touched upon several controversial issues (e.g. environment, labour) which, in his view, need to be addressed within the WTO framework. Thirdly, he expressed his hope for a more differentiated approach vis-à-vis different groups of developing countries; an evolution which would be economically painful but which is politically unavoidable as well. Lastly, he identified institutional reform as a further challenge facing the WTO.

Prof. Dr. Jarrod Wiener, Dean of the University of Kent at Brussels, responded to these observations by stressing that the so-called premature death of the WTO must not be exaggerated. Indeed, the difficulties that arose during the Uruguay Round gave way to very similar worries about the failure of multilateralism. His main point, however, was that the most important problem facing the multilateral trading system is its lack of legitimacy, resulting from an unequal distribution of power. According to Wiener, this problem is structural and therefore cannot be fixed within the formal institutional framework of the WTO. On the contrary, it demands a significant improvement of the human capacities of developing countries and of their ability to push domestic interests on the global agenda.

The next lecture series of the IES will be on European Identity. Under the auspices of Senior Research Fellow Richard Lewis and Kent Professor Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels, experts in the field of European Identity will be invited on selected Thursdays between February and May (see also further in this Newsletter).

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PILC Celebrates its 35th Anniversary

On Saturday 26 May, the IES-VUB Programme on International Legal Cooperation will celebrate its 35th anniversary at the Chateau St.-Anne in Brussels.

PILC indeed started in the academic year 1971-1972 under the auspices of Prof. Dr. Bart De Schutter - now President of the IES. This 35th anniversary calls for a festive celebration !

All PILC students and PILC alumni are herewith invited to join in this festivity.

More information will be advertised in our next newsletter. Meanwhile, details can be obtained from Zak Shusterman at apilca@ies.be, or from the PILC Director Prof. Dr. Servaas Van Thiel (secrpilc@vub.ac.be).

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IES Starts Lectures on European Identity

On February 15, IES Senior Research Fellow Richard Lewis kicked off the new IES Spring Lecture Series on European Identity, with a lecture entitled “New Europeans, New Identities”. He was introduced by co-organizer Amanda Kliekowski von Koppenfels of the University of Kent at Brussels.

Richard, who has a wide experience in the refugee problematique (stemming from his pre-IES career as a European Commission official in DG Justice, Freedom and Security, and prior to that, involved in finding solutions during the crisis in former Yugoslavia), presented us with a number of interesting ideas on the concepts of identity and integration. Making a broad philosophical tour of many of the issues that will be treated during the lecture series, he dug extensively into his experience to place the issues at hand in a wider framework. He pointed out under which demographic and political circumstances the presence of large groups of a different culture is perceived as “problematic”, and gave a few examples where measures did lead to a harmonious society. In particular, he pointed out the example of Frankfurt-am-Main, where the city council made major efforts to prevent ghetto-isation.

On the issue of identities (plural), he explained the various facets of which our identity consists, making us what we are. Multiple identities can, however, at times, be conflicting. A person can feel isolated or even rejected in the culture surrounding him or her, leading to feelings of frustration, in turn leading to undesired reactions towards the state where one resides. And whilst suggesting immigrants should not be forced to assimilate, they should be aware of the society in which they live, and understand it. He outlined the concept of “private persona” (at home) and “public persona”, in which the person should conform to the rules of the society in which he or she lives. Conflicts often come to exist where those two touch.

A lively discussion followed the lecture itself, during which many different views on the roles of immigrants and new citizens, were given.

On February 22nd IES welcomed Professor Tariq Ramadan as the second speaker in the Spring Lecture Series on European Identity. Professor Ramadan holds a number of distinguished academic appointments in Paris, Geneva and at St. Anthony’s College Oxford where he is known for his outspoken views on what it means to belong in European society. Aside from his outstanding academic career, Tariq Ramadan is well qualified to speak about this topic. He went to school and university in Geneva and is a Swiss national, but was born Egyptian. Aside from his native Arabic, is completely fluent in French and English (and probably undisclosed other languages!)

He began by enunciating a number of important principles. The first is that Europeans have to acknowledge and accept that their societies have changed as a result of immigration. In the past minorities only existed in the background but have gained a new visibility. Secondly, Europeans have to accept that Islam is indeed a European religion and not alien to their culture. Thirdly, that it is regrettable that an atmosphere of fear has developed about the topic of Islam in Europe, spurred on by the media. The great fear is that Europe is being colonised by Islam by stealth. Europeans are suffering from an identity crisis about who they are and there is an ambiance of “us” and “them” in the public discourse. The question is being asked: “Are you French (or any other nationality) or Muslim first”? Muslims are asking themselves the same questions. Ramadan said that it is one thing to keep asking these questions regarding the first generation of immigrants but another when the same issues arise in the third and fourth generations. Since everyone has to live together, these fears, which he characterised as legitimate and not necessarily inspired by racism, need to be addressed.

Professor Ramadan considered a number of avenues to lay these ghosts. First, he said, we have to “respect” each other. It is not enough simply to “tolerate” difference. Through respect, we may even achieve love for each other. With respect will also come mutual understanding and above all a sense of belonging. Secondly, we are engaged in a collective project in building society and this requires a common legal framework. Everyone has to agree and respect the law. He cited the example of Rousseau’s social contract with society and gave secularism as an example of law which should be obeyed. The social contract, he said, is entirely in accordance with Islamic principles.

Ramadan said that we need a common framework for communication (language which must be learnt if necessary) and a common culture which must be respected. A common culture includes memory, heritage and history, including the history of immigrant peoples which should now become part of a common patrimony. Referring to slavery and colonialism, he said that we have to accept “the light and the dark in our past history”; He emphasised that we all have multiple identities but that a common status and equality before the law were both essential. He considers that it is not the law as such that is the problem but its implementation and interpretation. It is, however, not enough to rely on the law. The aim is to talk about “us” rather than “us and them”.

Professor Ramadan then addressed the practical issues in achieving these principles. He advocates civic education both for immigrants and the native population. It is important to stop talking about “minorities” and speak of “citizenship” and “common values and ethics”. He feels that there is a need to create a positive discourse around the whole topic. It is not by government imposed decree that our common hopes will be realised, but by gradual and local initiatives. The problem is that there is a tendency to address only like-minded and liberal elements in society – we need to draw in all levels and opinions into the debate.

The lectures on European Identity take place every Thursday between 18:00 and 20:00 in Aula E.0.04 of the VUB. Although attendance is free of charge, registration (through the IES website) is compulsory. See the calendar of events at the end of this newsletter for further details, or consult our website at www.ies.be/identity.

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Migration Issues

European Migration Network

Four years ago the European Commission set up the European Migration Network (EMN) with a view to filling an information gap on migration research in Europe and statistical analysis. It was based on a pioneering study of this information gap by Professor John Salt of University College London in 1998. The Commission set up a system of National Contact Points in participating Member States (13 at present with five others as observers), appointed a coordinator, Jochen Blaschke based at the Berlin Institute for Comparative Social Research and launched a series of studies on different problem areas in the field. The coming to fruition of this work is particularly gratifying to Senior Research Fellow Richard Lewis because his work at the Commission in the Directorate General for Justice, Freedom and Security included responsibilities for the establishment of the EMN.

On December 7th, Richard attended the annual conference of the network in Brussels which heard and discussed a report on the migration of health sector workers and a further study on the return of aliens to their countries origin when their legal status in a Member State is no longer valid (for instance if their request for asylum fails). Both these reports which are available on the web (www.european-migration-network. org) raise interesting legal, social and ethical issues.

The end of 2006 sees the end of the preparatory phase of the EMN and the Commission is now obliged to present to the Council a proposal for a legal basis which will secure the future of this valuable tool from 2007 onwards.

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Migration Seminar at the EUI Florence

Senior Research Fellow Richard Lewis represented IES at a seminar held on November 24th and 25th 2006 at the European University Institute (EUI) at Fiesole just outside Florence. About 25 participants, mostly from academia, participated. The theme of the seminar was the external aspects of migration policy especially the results of enlargement and the influence that the EU might have on the external dynamics of migration.

Migration is almost by definition a phenomenon of what is happening in countries outside the EU and covers a multitude of aspects. War, famine and poverty (though generally not extreme poverty which tends to keep populations rooted in one place) are some of the main causes of migration and have to be addressed through external and development policies. However, there are many other issues – the role of remittances in sustaining development (these are estimated by the World Bank at $199 billion in 2006), questions of trafficking of migrants for illegal purposes and, of course, anti-terrorism were all considered. Participants came from the European Commission, Bulgaria, Turkey, Italy, France, Denmark and the UK.

Richard gave a presentation on a number of his projects whilst he was working at the European Commission and subsequently; These included his work with the International Migration Policy Programme (IMP). IMP is a region Migration issuesal dialogue mechanism set up to include some of the international agencies concerned with migration, notably the International Organisation for Migration and the International Labour Organisation, to build awareness in certain regions of the world – central Asia, East and West Africa – about migration issues affecting their regions. IMP also includes regional bodies such as the EU and the African Union. In addition he discussed the degree of effectiveness of migration related programmes concerning Iraq and Afghanistan. His main conclusions were that regional dialogue and problem solving have to be targeted. This is necessary to prevent “disaster migration” from spiralling out of control. The targeting needs to be orientated towards projects as well as concepts and above all needs to be conducted under the right political conditions. These conditions are not always possible to achieve.

The EUI occupies delightful buildings set in the Tuscan hills overlooking vineyards and olive groves and conducts research and teaching especially at graduate level on a number of topics. Appointments under the EU’s Marie Curie fellowship scheme are for a limited duration and the migration programme is currently run by Professor Virginie Guiraudon of the University of Lille. The EUI is directed by Professor Helen Wallace formerly of the University of Sussex.

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Richard Meets With the Governement of North-Rhein-Westfalia

On February 13th (2007), Richard Lewis, together with Alexia Scarlett from the Brussels office of the International Organisation for Migration, travelled to Dusseldorf to meet with officials from the Ministry of Generations, Family, Women and Integration of the state of North Rhine-Westfalia.

Following the decision to hold the 2008 Metropolis conference in Bonn in the autumn of that year, it had been agreed that the academic steering committee would include representatives of VUB,ULB and the University of Liège, the aim being to have an international input into the conference, albeit with a Belgian flavour. (Metropolis is a network of academics, practitioners and non-governmental organisations with a joint secretariat and co-chairs in Ottawa and Amsterdam). The meeting in Dusseldorf constituted the first planning meeting by some of those involved, with a further meeting scheduled for the end of March.

Subject to the approval of the International Steering Committee of Metropolis (due to have its next meeting in Malmö in mid-March 2007) this initial brain-storming meeting considered that the world of work should be the guiding theme of the 2008 event with a working title of “Labour Migration for a Prosperous World: Global Mobility and Local Diversity”, with a strong input from the private sector.

The German officials plan the involvement of a number of major universities, foundations and private companies and have asked Richard to make contact with a number of comparable organisations in Belgium.In addition, Alexia outlined the application of IOM, VUB and ULB to the European Commission under the INTI programme for a series of four seminars on similar themes in Brussels, Dublin, Vienna and Budapest leading up to the Metropolis conference. The concept is therefore to have a continuum of activities under the IOM/Metropolis banner rather than one off conferences.

These events promise to be an exciting cooperative venture involving regional government, academia and international organisations. If the team can pull all off, this kind of partnership should prove to be model of its kind. Watch this space!

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New Faces @ the IES

Since January 2007, a few new people have joined our Institute. German-born Eva Gross became the new Senior Research Fellow in the area of Foreign and Security Policy. Eva, who previously worked at CEPS and studied at the London School of Economics, replaces Giovanna Bono who left the IES in May 2006.

Following the decision written down in our Strategic Plan 2006-2010 to set up and strenghten our training and e-learning capacity, Prof. Dr. Maarten Theo Jans started in January to lead this IES cluster. Prior to his appointment at the IES, Theo was a professor of Politics at both VUB and Vesalius College. His will combine his 50% appointment at the IES with his professorship at VUB.

The European excellence network REFGOV (Reflexive Governance), coordinated for the VUB by Prof. Dr. Serge Gutwirth and Prof. Dr. Paul de Hert called for part-time assistance. To this end, Pieter Paepe joined the IES and teamed up with Gloria Gonzalez-Fuster on this project.


IES Secretary Nele Fasseel has become the proud mother of a son, Arno. During her maternity leave, student Jessy Maes will be replacing her, reinforcing Laïla at the IES secretariat.


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Harri at the Turku School of Economics

Senior Research Fellow Dr. Harri Kalimo lectured in the Turku School of Economics on September 14 in a seminar honouring the 20th Anniversary of the Business Research and Development Center. Under the general theme of the Seminar, “Global Markets”, Kalimo’s lecture dealt with the environmental aspects of the global marketplace and competitiveness. He pointed out that awareness of environmental requirements globally is a prerequisite for many modern companies, even the small ones. The most competitive companies go however much further than that. Environmental issues may form a core element of a company’s successful overall strategy, and therefore a key source of its competitive edge. Further, the public authorities should also stay abreast with these developments. Companies may be encouraged by the government to pursue environmental objectives through balanced and flexible, modern environmental policy instruments, and through environmental principles such as life-cycle thinking. At the same time global trade rules should be crafted and applied wisely to root out discriminative, protectionist measures without decreasing the countries’ ability to maintain ambitious environmental standards. With this type of principles, it is possible to aim towards a symbiosis of globalization, high environmental standards and solid competitiveness.

The BRDC is a unit of 60 persons that specialises in various fields of research such as East-West trade Pan-European Institute, and socially responsible business. It has developed advanced methods of tight collaboration with the private sector. The Director of the BRDC, professor Antti Paasio, as well as Professors Pasi Malinen and Jussi Puhakainen are keen to lecture at the IES later this fall. The TSE forms a part of the IES collaboration network also through Kalimo’s adjunct professorship in the TSE.

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Karen and Ben in Florence

From 12-15 February, IES researchers Karen Donders and Ben Van Rompuy visited the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy. The main purpose of their visit was to conduct interviews at the EUI law department and to do research in the EUI library. However, they also took the opportunity to attend the successful PhD Defense of Anna Herold. The public presentation of her thesis, entitled “European film policies in the context of EU and international law: a misalliance of culture and free market?”, was followed by a very interesting discussion about the application of the competition rules to the European film sector. Herold claimed in her defense that the often-heard statement that policies aimed at the promotion of effective competition and market integration seldom sit comfortably with those aimed at the promotion of cultural diversity, needs to be nuanced.

In their respective PhD’s, Karen and Ben are tackling similar issues. Ben is working on the place of non-competition considerations in EC antitrust and merger control in the audiovisual and telecommunications sectors. More specifically, he is assessing whether convergence between EC and US competition policies is adding further weight to the case for a more purist application of the European competition rules. Karen is investigating the impact and width of EU and WTO intervention in EU Member States’ state aid policies for the audiovisual sector. Her research focuses on the overall direction in which state aid/media policy is heading and, more specifically, on the margins left for states to implement and sustain state aid policies for public service broadcasting.

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Training DG Trade Officials and VUB Students

Training DG Trade Officials...

What exactly are the effects of WTO law in the Community and national legal orders? This was amongst the questions treated during a training seminar of commission’s DG Trade officials on “EC and International Trade and Commerce”, given by IES Senior Research Fellow, Prof. Dr. Harri Kalimo on February 13. The training was the third day in a four-day seminar on International law, organized by the College of Europe (Bruges) at the University Institute in Brussels. Professor Kalimo’s lecture had four parts. The first part outlined economic theories and flows of international trade, as well as the phenomenon of globalization. The second part treated the parallel, multi-level legal structures of the international field. In the third and fourth parts the deliberation moved deeper into legal questions, focusing on the direct and indirect effects of WTO law as well as division of powers questions in the Community’s external relations.

...and VUB Students

Starting the 2nd semester of this academical year, Harri will also teach the course “Social and Cultural Agency in Europe” to students of the VUB’s (advanced) Masters in European Integration and development. The Faculty of Economic, Social and Political Sciences and Solvay Business School appointed him as lecturer to this end earlier this year.

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E-modules from Salzburg to Tampere

E-modules from Salzburg...

At the end of February, IES Executive Director Anthony Antoine attended the 10th IRIS Conference (Internationales Recht und Informatik Symposium) at the University of Salzburg, Austria. Anthony, who has been a regular visitor to the symposium since 2003, led the conference’s E-learning workshop, and gave an overview of the IES E-learning initiatives in the field of European Law, European Institutions and European Information Sources. He emphasized the difference between “learning” systems and the more widespread communication systems that are used in E-learning, and gave an overview of the different standards used in the field (SCORM, IMS, ...). Unlike communication systems used in schools and universities, the E-learning modules of the Institute offer potential students interesting content in a true electronic learning environment that “steers” the student on a particular learning track.

IRIS, which initially assembled law and informatics scholars from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, has become more and more international. This year, participants also came from Belgium, Finland, Holland, Luxemburg, Palestine, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ukraine and the United States.

The symposium is still one of the biggest events on legal informatics in the German peaking area, and deals with a growing variety of E-related (legal) issues, such as E-Government, E-Democracy, Legal Information, Online Taxation, E-Justice and E-Learning. As with previous years, the “closing” and more philosophical track on “Science Fiction” attracted a wide audience. Prof. Maurer (Graz) warned the audicence of the growing power of Google over information and knowledge, while Markus Stüber (Mobikon) gave us a glimpse of how technology will further influence our thinking and handling in the coming decades.

Brussels-based initiater Prof. Dr. Erich Schweighofer, a scholar at the University of Vienna and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, now working at the European Commission, may look back on a succesful symposium.

...to Tampere...

The Department of Law at Tampere University (Finland) invited IES Senior Research Fellow Harri Kalimo to give a 15-hour lecture series “European Community Law” on January 8-11. The series focused on the basic principles, structures and processes of the EC, as well as the economic law at the hard core of the Community.

Harri conducted a part of the lecture series using e-Modules — the interactive distance learning tool on the EU, developed by Ruben Lombaert and Frédérique Lambrecht of the IES. The reception of this pilot case was enthusiastic. Only two of the 40 international students found this method of learning awkward, and the tool itself received a lot of praise. Here are some of the comments from the feedback forms:

“We liked the eModules, a good way to see the information right in front of you and one could surf back to recap knowledge.” Xanthoula & Jesse “The eModules interface is easy to use and to understand. A good point is that one can check his/her mistakes and then take a deeper look to what s/he missed.” Nicolas “Well designed (short pages, logic table of contents, easy to find one’s wa[y] trough it). Interesting links for more information!” Anne

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IES to join in European Consortia

On 22 and 23 February, a delegation from the Institut für ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung (IÖW) (the Institute for Ecological Economy Research) and from the Statens Institutt for forbruksforskning (National Institute for Consumer Research, Norway) sat together with the IES at a kickoff meeting of the joint EU Specific Support Action called “Assessing the potential of various instruments for sustainable consumption practices and greening of the market” (AS- (AS- CEE). Senior Research Fellow Harri Kalimo and IES Academic Director Sebastian Oberthür will contribute to this 18-month project. Most likely, additional junior researchers will be called upon to join in.

With this contract, the IES joins its fourth European 6th framework project, after GARNET and EPIGOV (Networks of Excellence) and REFGOV (Integrated Project).

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IES/IEEP Policy Fora

CO2 Capture, Storage & its Potential Role in European Mitigation

On Monday 4th December, Jason Anderson of the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) introduced an interested crowd to CO2 capture and storage and its potential role in European mitigation.

Too much carbon dioxide, better known as CO2, being pumped into the atmosphere is responsible for climate change. Much of the CO2 comes from industrial activities, and burning coal and oil for energy and power. To deal with the consequences of climate change, mankind has responded with international action, through Treaties like the Kyoto Protocol, and with actions at the EU and national levels.

One concrete way to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is to capture it and store it. Jason Anderson, Research Fellow at the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), spoke about Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

CCS is not new. Statoil, the Norwegian Energy firm, has being doing it for the last 10 years in the North Sea. Instead of letting the CO2 drift off and upwards, Statiol’s gas and oil fields have captured the CO2, stored it, and pumped it back underground to aquifers at the bottom the ocean.

The benefits, if the CCS works, could be tremendous. It would reduce the high costs of carbon dioxide reduction measures. Also, if it works, the amount of carbon emitted may not have to be reduced.

The technology is not problem-free. It is expensive, though its use has been encouraged by regulation and subsidies. Carbon dioxide is also an odorless poison, and in sufficient concentrations kills. If the stores leak, the dangers are immense. Finally, public perception of the technology is low.

An audience of 25 people, from energy firms, law firms, academics, officials from the European Parliament, as well as Belgian and European Commission regulators, joined in and debated the issue over lunch.

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WTO Dispute Settlement Panel Report on the Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products in the EU

In its fifth session on February 5, the IES Policy Forum had the privilege of offering presentations by two leading legal authorities on trade and environmental questions—Prof. Dr. Geert van Calster from KU Leuven and Prof. Dr. Lucas Bergkamp from Erasmus University in Rotterdam and law firm Hunton & Williams in Brussels. Professors van Calster and Bergkamp presented the recent WTO Dispute Settlement Panel Report on the approval and marketing of biotech products in the EU (WT/DS291-WT/DS293).

Professor van Calster contextualized his presentation by sketching a broader picture on the regulatory autonomy of states in international trading schemes. He explained how WTO law accommodates national regulatory interests, but pointed out that such accommodation had suffered from a chilling effect during the 1990s as the WTO had moved beyond the traditional non-discrimination approach on trade barriers. Against this background Professor van Calster elaborated the key question of the role and contents of risk assessments in trade, which formed the core of the Panel Report on Biotech Products. He used this elaboration to set in context the more specific discussion on the WTO Panel report. Although the report’s fi ndings appeared minimal to van Calster, the toxic nature of the contents as well as its poor legal quality had led van Calster to hope for an appeal to the Appellate Body. For various reasons, the EC had not pursued this route. Overall, the analyzed questions appeared particularly pertinent taking into account the EC’s front-runner role in many areas of societal regulation, such as REACH and potentially also nano-technology.

In his commentary on van Calster’s presentation, Professor Bergkamp touched upon the wider question of the “likeness” of products. As an example he noted GMO maize: numerous different varieties had existed for a long time, yet only the introduction of gene manipulated varieties has challenged the “likeness” of different varieties of maize. Moreover, Prof. Bergkamp observed that an evaluation of the environmental and public health risks of an imported product would need to take into account also the full environmental impacts of the proposed alternative. The amount of supplementary pesticides required to grow a non-GMO treated variety thus would need to be a part of the analysis on the potential consequences of the manipulation. He also pointed out that the scientific part of a precautionary analysis cannot be public process in the sense that it needs to follow the rigorous principles of objectivity and hard facts. Only the scientific community is equipped with the tools necessary to fulfill this task.

In the open discussion, the Panel report’s extraordinary length (some 900 pages even without the annexes) received sharp criticism across the board. IES Senior Fellow Professor Harri Kalimo remarked that trade law tools relying on market demand—such as cross-elasticity of prices—are likely to be inaccurate in situations where the competing imported product has been absent from the marketplace. This is so regardless of whether the absence is caused by governmental actions or other reasons. Another point raised by the audience was the potential for the Community’s REACH legislation to be challenged in the WTO. Both discussants found this prospect unlikely.

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Academic Director Oberthür and Kyoto Compliance

On 11 and 12 January 2007, IES Academic Director Sebastian Oberthür participated in a workshop on Practical Experiences with the Functioning of Compliance Mechanisms under Multilateral Environmental Agreements. The workshop was organized by the German Presidency of the European Union in an effort to foster exchange of knowledge and experience among European members of compliance bodies under various multilateral environmental agreements. Prof. Oberthür gave a presentation on the Compliance Committee of the Kyoto Protocol after the first year of its operation. He argued that overall the committee had made good progress during its first year but that the real test for the committee and the compliance procedure in general is still ahead, since no case of alleged non-compliance has yet entered the full procedure. Prof Oberthür is an elected member of the Compliance Committee of the Kyoto Protocol and currently serves as the vice-chairperson of its enforcement branch.

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The IES Calendar of Events 2007

For more information about the Calendar of Events, click here.

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Content


Credits

Contributed to this Newsletter:
Anthony Antoine, Karen Donders, Harri Kalimo, Richard Lewis, Ruben Lombaert, Alexander Mattelaer, Aaron McLoughlin, Sebastian Oberthür, Mehmet Tezcan, Ben Van Rompuy

Editing:
Richard Lewis, John Lary, Rhiannon Williams & Anthony Antoine

Pictures courtesy of IES

Published by
Anthony ANTOINE, IES, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels