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Lithuania reintroduces conscription over perceived Russian threat

25 Février, 2015 - 10:24

Lithuania plans to restart military conscription, which it ended in 2008, to address growing concerns about Russian assertiveness in the Baltic region, President Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Tuesday.

"Today's geopolitical environment requires us to strengthen the army, and do it as fast as possible," Grybauskaitė said after a meeting of the country's defence council.

The Baltic states are concerned that Russian annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in east Ukraine may be a foretaste of it reasserting itself in other former Soviet territories.

New South Stream will be Russia’s ‘route of friendship’

25 Février, 2015 - 09:15

Thwarted in one attempt to build a gas pipeline to southeast Europe, the Kremlin is working with a small circle of allies to lay the groundwork for an alternative that would help it maintain leverage in its rivalry with the West, write Krisztina Than and Michael Kahn.

Krisztina Than and Michael Kahn are Reuters journalists.

Russia last year aborted South Stream, a $40 billion pipeline that was to have passed under the Black Sea and via Bulgaria, in the face of objections from the European Union.

EU lawmakers back 6% cap on food-based biofuels

25 Février, 2015 - 08:46

The European Parliament's environment committee on Tuesday (24 February) backed a new limit on traditional biofuels made from food crops that critics say stoke inflation and do more harm than good to the environment.

German conservatives push for vote on Greek deal

25 Février, 2015 - 08:40

A group of hardliners among German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives have urged lawmakers to take a tough stance on a loan extension to Greece, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported on Wednesday (25 February.)

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has written to the speaker of the lower house of parliament requesting a vote this week on extending the bailout.

Europe's Energy Union needs carbon capture and storage

25 Février, 2015 - 08:19

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) should be an integral part of the European Commission's Energy Union proposal, argues Graeme Sweeney, as it provides the only decarbonisation option for some energy-intensive industries.

Norwegian minister: Do not let UK drift to the fringe

25 Février, 2015 - 08:16

Britain's membership in the European Union is vital for the bloc’s foreign and security policies, but it would not be a safer place if it was to leave the EU altogether, warned Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s Minister for EU Affairs.

Mr Helgesen, who was speaking in London at the invitation of British Influence, a pro-EU think tank, said, “It is evident that without Britain in the EU, Europe will be far less effective and forceful in foreign relations.”

Normandy quartet agrees to reinforcement of Ukraine OSCE mission

25 Février, 2015 - 08:08

The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany agreed on Tuesday (24 February) to seek a reinforcement of the international monitoring mission in Ukraine and renewed their calls for an oft-breached ceasefire agreement to be respected.

Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany have repeatedly met over the Ukraine crisis in the so-called "Normandy format", some of the most crucial talks having been held in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.

Bärbel Höhn: Renewables are 'the most important source of energy in Germany'

25 Février, 2015 - 08:00

“It is simply not worth it to invest in coal power plants," says Bärbel Höhn. Speaking to EurActiv Poland, the German lawmaker talks about the realities of the Energiewende, its costs and benefits, as well as its impact on coal-rich areas.

Bärbel Höhn is chairperson of the Committee on the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of the German Bundestag. She was interviewed by Krzysztof Kokoszczyński, courtesy of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.

Energy Union pushes for e-mobility and alternative fuels in transport

25 Février, 2015 - 07:47

The European Commission plans further steps to decarbonise the transport sector through a shift to alternative fuels and electro-mobility, according to the latest draft of the Energy Union proposal, which will be officially presented later today.

The transport sector is responsible for a quarter of EU carbon emissions and consumes more than 30% of the EU’s total energy intake.  

The use of alternative fuels like biodiesel, electricity, or liquefied natural gas, could increase the sector’s energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, the Commission believes.

Energy union aims for elusive 10% power grid interlinkage

25 Février, 2015 - 07:38

European Commission proposals for an Energy Union will include a target for 10% interconnection of electricity grids across borders. But the objective, initially decided in 2002, has remained elusive because of entrenched national interests.

The 10% interconnection target is a central part of the Commission’s Energy Union package of proposals, due to be presented later today (25 February).

Legality of the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement questioned

25 Février, 2015 - 07:27

A respected international lawyer has published an article, claiming that the fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco is illegal, as it doesn’t contain a specific reference to the fishing zone off the coast of Western Sahara, and that the UN Security Council (UNSC) should examine the issue.

German government readies EU white helmet force to combat epidemics

25 Février, 2015 - 07:15

SPECIAL REPORT: In the fight against global diseases, the European Union is expected to take a collective approach. Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is currently planning a highly-specialised task force to combat epidemics like Ebola. He has also set aside the Medevac plane “Robert Koch” for the mission.

Commission pushes for new guidelines against foreign fighters

25 Février, 2015 - 07:09

German Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière, and First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, hope to boost security at entry points along the EU’s external borders, also subjecting EU citizens to more thorough checks. EurActiv Germany reports.

UK set to mop up Juncker Plan gains

24 Février, 2015 - 19:17

The UK will benefit almost twice as much as the other large European countries from the €315 billion Juncker investment plan, according to a report by rating agency Standard & Poors.

The agency’s report on Global Infrastructure Investments published last month assessed the multiplier effect that public investments from the Juncker plan might have within several member states.

S&P estimated the benefit to economies over a three-year period (2015-2017) of an increase in public sector spending of 1% of GDP in the first year.

Eurozone approves Greek reform plan with reservations

24 Février, 2015 - 18:55

Greece secured a four-month extension of its financial rescue on Tuesday (24 February) when its eurozone partners approved a reform plan that backed down on key leftist measures and promised that spending to alleviate social distress would not derail its budget.

Finance ministers sealed the decision in a telephone conference convened by Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem after the new leftist-led Athens government sent him a detailed list of reforms it plans to implement by the end of June.

Support for UKIP slips before May election

24 Février, 2015 - 16:15

Support for the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) has slipped less than three months before a national election, following a slew of negative publicity, denting its hopes of winning more seats in parliament, an opinion poll showed on Tuesday (24 February).

UKIP won European elections in Britain last May, has regularly been getting 15 percent in opinion polls, and has even spoken of holding the balance of power after the election.

UK will need to import over half of its food within a generation, farmers warn

24 Février, 2015 - 11:50

More than half of the UK’s food will come from overseas within a generation, as a rising population and stalling farm productivity combine to erode what remains of the UK’s self-sufficiency, according to farming leaders.

The UK’s failure to produce more food will leave households more vulnerable to volatile prices and potential shortages, the National Farmers’ Union will say at its annual conference on Tuesday (24 February). The farming body will call on politicians to encourage new investment in farming, and develop a national plan for a higher degree of food self-sufficiency.

Europe’s Energy Union should take inspiration from the Internet

24 Février, 2015 - 11:22

The Internet is history's most successful example of interconnection and unity through transmission, a model which the EU could replicate when deciding on its plans for an Energy Union, writes Thomas Becker.

Thomas Becker is CEO of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA)

The Internet is history's most successful example of interconnection and unity through transmission.

Gazprom warns of ‘serious risks’ for gas transit to Europe

24 Février, 2015 - 11:16

Gazprom said Tuesday (24 February) that there were "serious" risks to gas transit to Europe via Ukraine after Kyiv failed to make a pre-payment.

A new conflict between Gazprom and the Ukrainian Naftogas has come to light in recent days. Naftogas accuses Gazprom of violating an EU-brokered gas supply protocol and of not supplying prepaid gas to Ukraine. What appears to be happening is that Russia is supplying separatist regions with gas prepaid by Kyiv, instead.

EU will push for 60% cut in global emissions by 2050

24 Février, 2015 - 10:47

European Union leaders want to enshrine in international law a goal to cut global emissions by 60% by 2050, according to a draft document that puts the bloc on a collision course with the biggest polluters.

The EU is keen to inject urgency into the climate change debate ahead of an international conference in Paris at the end of this year to seek a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

The European Commission will publish tomorrow (25 February) a blueprint for tackling climate change.