Category Archives: Group 2

EU hesitating to support Egypt financially

Dr. Hans Pöttering, the Former President of the European Parliament, discussing the issue of NGO problem that happened in Cairo

 

Although EU funds Egypt, the situation may differ after the NGO, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) organization’s conflict.

 

According to Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering MEP of the EPP Group, and the Former President of the European Parliament, the security forces invaded Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) organization, NGO, and took all the computers, servers, and documents with them. They, then, asked two German representatives to be questioned from a legal side, as a form of interrogation, lasting for five hours and half.

“The money we have is all money from German budget. It is not money from industry, or economy. We see the reaction in Egypt that we can’t continue our work.” Pöttering said.

 

The security forces promised them that they would give them back the computer and documents within two days, and they didn’t. Finally, an accusation got that the two representatives were accused of illegal funds.

 

However, Pöttering is convinced that the EU has to receive the answer “yes” first from Egypt, as he thinks the money should be spent if the EU makes sure it will be used in the right way.

“ We want to be helpful and we like the development which goes into the direction of democracy, liberty, and legal order. We want as EU to support people who want to build a real legal order. This is our ambition.”

 

The EU wants a dialogue with countries which are not member of EU. But, the question is “whether Egypt, for example, want this, or not. Some may call this “interference”. Instead, it is a support of human being of dignity of EU, democracy, and human rights.

 

“My feeling is that many people, who I met on Ta7rir square in March 2011, belong to those who really want to live in a democratic society, and build a real legal order,” he added.

 

“We have repeatedly called on the Egyptian authorities to respect due process. A fully-functioning civil society is a vital part of any democracy.” Michael Mann, the Chief Spokesperson to HRVP Catherine Ashton in the European Commission, said.

NGOs are allowed to operate and that the rules governing them are in line with international standards. Clearly, there is a rapid transfer to civilian rule.

 

Based on the neighbourhood policy, EU is planning to fund Egypt for the three-year period 2011-2013 is €449 million.

Pia AHRENKILDE HANSEN, Spokeswoman of the Commission while her argument of the neighbourhood,and development policy

 

 

“We have a large support allocated to our neighbouring regions. It is in the interest of EU to have stability in its own neighbourhood, to have good relations to develop close trading, and political relations,” Spokeswoman of the Commission, Pia AHRENKILDE HANSEN said.

According to her, it is a fact that solidarity goes through neighbourhood policy and development policy. EU can benefit from enlarging the stability and prosperity in the world.

 

On the other hand, resources are limited; there shouldn’t be a comparison between development policy and neighbourhood policy. There are historical reasons behind development policy.

 

“The identity is part of who we want to be as the EU. Despite the pressures that we are under, it is still very much part of what the EU stands for,” AHRENKILDE HANSEN stated.

 

Apart from her opinion, Søren Bo SØNDERGAARD who is a member of European Parliament, Budgetary Control, from the Confederal Group of the European United Left, believed that €449 million has nothing to do within developing Egypt.

 

“This amount of money would be in the benefit of the military, because in Egypt, behind the scene, the military is controlling everything. EU shouldn’t give this amount of money to the regime, but to the people, instead,” SØNDERGAARD stated.

 

Mr Jakob Erle, the Director of the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute, agreed that the money is insufficient for Egyptian needs, similar to SØNDERGAARD’s opinion.

However, “Certainly, it should be the government the one to receive the money” Jakob said, with a contradiction with SØNDERGAARD’s point of view towards the source receiving the financial Fund in Egypt.

“I hope this conflict concerning the NGO in Cairo wouldn’t affect EU funds to Egypt.” Erle added.

 


Danish companies: No profit in public procurement abroad

In Denmark almost no foreign companies bid on public procurements and nor city councils abroad should expect offers in the landscape gardening business from Danes.

By Elise Patricia Rasmussen

When the cities of Madrid or Athens need to get their lawn mowed or their streets repaired it will not be Danes who are doing the job. The Danish companies do not bid on public procurements outside Denmark.

“We don’t bid on procurements in other countries. We never have, and we probably never will,” Emil Utoft, sales consultant at Nygaard, a large Danish landscape gardener company says.

If Spain needs their hedges to be clipped they should not count on a visit from Nygaard. Photo: Elise Patricia Rasmussen.

 

He thinks it is both very complicated and resource demanding to bid in another country but other than this there is another reason.

“It simply can’t pay to do it,” he says and explains:

If we look at our neighboring country Germany, the wage is lower, so we couldn’t use our own employees. We would have to hire locals. It would demand too many funds even to be able to compete with German companies.”

This is something that the landscape gardening trade organization can recognize. Their members almost never go abroad and the main reason is evident.

“It will never pay of to go abroad with Danish staff, unless they have very specific know-how” Ejvind Røge, chief executive officer at DAG (Danish Landscape Gardeners, red.) says.

He is only familiar with one company, which operates out of the country. They are building up a new department in Sweden, but according to Ejvind Røge it is not in order to bid on Swedish EU procurements.

Big compromises needed to save Europes fisheries

According to expert advice, the new fisheries management approach proposed by the European Commission will not be enough to create a strong fishing sector unless bigger compromises are made by both fishermen and politicians.

 

By Amy Mowle

Given the critical state of the European Union’s fishing sector there is a pressing need for the common fisheries policy reform to be both strong and ambitious.The reform package, proposed by the European Commission in 2011, is currently being debated in the European Parliament and includes a report concerned with the basic regulation of EU fisheries.

 

The current common fisheries policy (CFP) used to control and manage Europe’s fishing sector is one of two policies that are common across member states. The CFP that is currently in place has been criticised by many marine biologists and politicians alike, claiming that it is not a strong enough policy to actually create an environmentally safe fishing sector.

 

Part of the basic reform package involves an offer to step up the standard of the EU’s fisheries by applying the management approach known as maximum sustainable yield across all commercial stocks, and this has exposed a division of opinions between parliamentarians and scientists.

 

Real compromise, real results

 

World renowned marine biologist and attributable founder of fisheries science, Dr Sidney Holt, is an expert in the requirements of strong and sustainable fisheries. Dr Holt has long been a reputable adversary of the popular fisheries management approach of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and has recently written a report for the Greens within the European Parliament outlining the path to achieving sustainable fisheries.

 

Dr Holt believes that MSY is “in practice unattainable, because it requires an essentially infinite fishing effort, and its levels are easily influenced by policy makers”. Even so he accepts that MSY may be a last chance to achieve save European fisheries from disaster.

 

In regards to the current CFP, Dr Holt believes that “In contrast with the current policy of merely calling for sustainability, an MSY policy is an improvement in the sense that it provides in principle for recovery of depleted stocks”. Nevertheless for a real sustainable fishery to be achieved harsher compromise than simply achieving MSY across all commercial fishing industries is necessary.

 

What is maximum sustainable yield?

 

Each species has what is known as a carrying capacity, this is the maximum population size that can be supported by the environment a species lives in. The MSY is found at around half of this carrying capacity and is a way of measuring the maximum amount that can be taken from the population each year without harming the opportunity for numbers to bounce back.

 

In short, the idea of MSY is that any wild population is able to survive human exploitation without harm to a certain ongoing maximum level. The management approach of MSY has downfalls; it is focused on one species at a time and does not consider ecological damage caused by exploitation, it can be easily miscalculated as history as shown, and does not take into consideration external factors that influence numbers of a species such as climate change and weather patterns.

 

According to the official reform documents on MSY, EU Member States subscribed to the MSY objective almost thirty years ago in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas. They then reiterated it in the 1995 UN Fish Stock Agreement, in 2002 in the Johannesburg Declaration and finally in 2010 in Nagoya. Still, there has been very little done within the Member States to achieve MSY, and the reform is seen as a final and necessary attempt to rehabilitate fish stocks that are vital to many EU member states dependant on the fisheries industry.

 

Parliamentarians don’t want to listen

 

According to Dr Holt, MSY has much potential be an effective management approach for the EU, but only if compromises are made. “Greatest profitability comes with catches of around 50-80% of MSY, with high, profitable catch rates. Taking less than MSY has other implications: far less ecosystem impact, more stability of catches, larger average size of fish caught, less so called by-catch and discards, and restored profitability”, he says. But there is opposition to any approach that involves added compromise to European fisheries from influential Members of the European Parliament (MEP).

 

There is opposition to this advice from MEP’s who are debating the reform. Struan Stevenson, Scottish MEP from the Conservative Party, believes that fishermen will refuse to make more sacrifices than will already be required under the MSY management approach. “Fishing under MSY will curtail the ability for fishermen to make a decent profit. It is understandable that the environmental side of things must be considered, but we can’t forget the social and economic impact this kind of approach would have.”, he said. Mr Stevenson believes that rather than fishing under MSY, there needs to be further reductions of fishing fleets to truly achieve sustainable fisheries.

 

Øle Christensen, a Danish MEP and member of the Social Democrats, is fighting for a more “ambitious reform” but believes that fishing at a percentage of MSY would be difficult and hard to justify. “Getting the reliable numbers is so hard, so I completely understand the argument of having a safety net. Then again, you have to have some limit. It’s good to have an indicator that we have agreement on, and at this stage it is to set the targets at MSY”, he said.

 

Perhaps the only party within the European Parliament in support of the imperative advice is the Greens, who asked Dr Holt to prepare a report on the prospect of sustainable fisheries in the EU . Michael Earle is an advisor on fisheries and MEP representing the Greens. He says that “Fish stocks must be allowed to recover to stock sizes significantly above those capable of producing MSY”, and the only way he believes this can be achieved is through adhering to a percentage of MSY approach to managing EU fisheries.

 

There’s still hope for the reform

 

History has shown that MSY has championed in some parts of the world, such as Alaska, which has maintained healthy, booming fisheries through holding catches at a scientifically qualified maximum sustainable yield. Yet, in another example from the United States, New England fisheries collapsed after scientific recommendations were routinely ignored.

 

The question remains in whether or not the European Parliament will be willing to support the compromise that Dr Holt has recognised to ensure a profitable and secure fisheries industry for years to come. The advice of Dr Holt will be pushed by the Greens; “Life is about negotiations, but at this point in the process we are pushing our ideas and not planning on watering down our demands”, says Mr Earle, but the result will not be clear until the final debate on the reform is held. The basic regulation package of the reform is to be implemented across all of Europe’s fisheries by 2013.

 

 

 

You can follow the progress of the reform at www.cfp-reformwatch.eu.

 

 

 

Public procurement proposal is not simple enough

Danish municipalities spend millions on composing EU procurement material. New proposal makes the process easier, but not easy enough both municipalities and MEP says.

By Elise Patricia Rasmussen

The sun is peeping through the office window telling that the spring has arrived. Most people welcome it with open arms, but for Jerrik Park Bisgaard it means more work, that he doesn’t have time to do.

He is landscape engineer at Aalborg Municipality and his job consists among other things in supervising the cultivating in the green areas and contract management, but devising procurements takes time away from these tasks.

11 % of GDP

Outsourcing has been regulated be the EU since the seventies but now more than 30 years later it still doesn’t function in a way that satisfy everyone.

Today the European public market’s total value is about 11 % of the EU countries combined GDP or 5000 billion Danish kroner and this amount is increasing year after year.

The current public procurement directive is very complicated and the main critique is namely that is too bureaucratic, too comprehensive and too difficult to fully understand for the employees.

Room for improvement

In practice the directive means that all public procurements above a certain value are under EU law and not more simple national laws.  In Denmark this leads to very high cost just on producing the procurement proposals and this is even though it almost never results in bids from foreign companies.

The municipalities and regions have complained about these legislations for years and in December 2011 the Commission finally came with a proposal to a new and simpler public procurement procedure.

 

  • Threshold values

    The current threshold values for procurements in municipalities are:

    Products:                                       1.489.820 DKK

    –          Partial agreement:       595.928 DKK

    Services:                                        1.489.820 DKK

    –          Partial agreement:       595.928 DKK

    Constructions:                          37.245.500 DKK

    –          Partial agreement:    7.449.100 DKK

 

But both the municipalities, regions and several Members of the European Parliament are still not satisfied. As MEP Emilie Turunen, vice-chair Group of the Greens puts it:

“There is definitely room for improvement.”

Companies can complain

Back at the sunny office in Aalborg, Jerrik Park Bisgaard sits behind his desk working on the latest procurement on streams and creeks.

“I haven’t done anything but procurements the last three months,” he says and tells that one single procurement easily takes 1000 working hours for him, the lawyers and an extern consultant.

Almost all procurements in his department mount up in more than the threshold values and then he has to follow the EU directive instead of the Danish law.

Jerrik Park Bisgaard spends most working hours behind the desk putting together procurements. Photo: Elise Patricia Rasmussen.

Other than the demand on publishing the procurement to all of EU, the biggest hurdle is a wide range of opportunities for the companies to complain, and this makes the process very complicated, Jerrik thinks.

“Then the EU mill runs and there is 5 billion thinks to keep track on and 5 billion pages up and down with rules.”

No bids from foreigners

At Aalborg Municipality procurement contract function, manager Jan Nielsen, that mostly handles the purchase of products, has the same experience as Jerrik Park Bisgaard. He thinks the threshold values are too low.

 

“When I buy pens or soap to 20.000 employees it quickly adds up to one and a half million.”

Neither Jan Nielsen nor Jerrik Park Bisgaard experiences bids from foreign companies the last years. Jan only remembers one bid on electricity equipment, where no Danish companies had the expertise and they needed bids from outside the borders.

A study from Momentum backs it up. Only 13 % of the Danish municipalities or regions have experienced to sign a contract with a foreign bidder.

Bureaucratic procurement

The same study shows that 94 % of the procurement managers finds the rules too bureaucratic and too resource demanding.

It was the Commission’s goal to simplify the system with the new proposal, but according to a recent Danish hearing it is not the case.

Major organizations such as Danish Regions, KL (National organization for the municipalities), the Finance Council, Danish Construction and Danish Business answered and they all agreed on one thing: The procurement process is not simplified by this new proposal.

No clear yes or no

MEP Emilie Turunen, vice-chair Group of the Greens and member of the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, IMCO, backs up the municipalities.

“They are being buried in paperwork even in very small procurements and we have to do something about it,” she says and elaborates:

“It needs to be much simpler than what the Commission has suggested and the threshold values could be higher.”

Also MEP Morten Løkkegaard, member of Alde and the IMCO committee, thinks the proposal is far from the simplification everyone had hoped for, and according to his political assistant he will propose some amendments.

Emilie Turunen and Morten Løkkegaard have not decided whether to vote for or against.

The Commission aims that the proposal will pass no later than the exit of 2012.