The measure will therefore contribute to energy savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants emissions. The Bucharest district heating system is the largest in size in the EU, and the second largest in the world, serving 1.2 million inhabitants, covering around 940 km of thermic pipes for the transmission system and 2,800 km pipes for the distribution system.  
  Romania notified the Commission of its plans to provide public support of approximately €254 million (1,208 billion RON ) for the rehabilitation of the distribution network, notably the transmission pipelines of hot water to the main distribution points, of the district heating system in the urban area of Bucharest, the Commission said, adding that the planned support will take the form of a direct grant financed by EU Structural Funds managed by Romania. The Commission concluded that the measure does not distort competition and is in line with EU State aid rules, notably thanks to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and other polluting substances and the improvement of the energy efficiency of the district heating system. The contribution of a grant from EU Structural Funds is needed to cover the financing gap of the project. Therefore, the project would not be financially viable without public support. As demonstrated by the Romanian authorities, despite the reduction by around 10% of operating costs, the overall operation of the district heating system will not generate sufficient revenues to cover the investment costs, the Commission said. EUROPEAN UNION, 2021/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/JENNIFER JACQUEMART

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Romanian plans to support the upgrade of the district heating system of the municipality of Bucharest comply with EU State Aid rules, EU Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, has said. The rehabilitation of the Bucharest District heating will consist in the replacement of sections of main hot water transmission pipelines for approximately 10% of the overall length of Bucharest’s district heating network, the Commission said, adding that this investment will reduce heat losses, water refill losses, network maintenance costs, as well as other losses. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Romanian aid for district heating system rehabilitation in Bucharest gets EU nod

By New Europe Online/KG

Margrethe Vestager

EU Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, in Brussels, February 22, 2021. “This €254 million aid measure, funded thanks to EU structural funds, will help Romania achieve its energy-efficiency targets and will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas and other pollutants emissions, without unduly distorting competition,” Vestager said.

The ESI combines the thriving ecosystem of solar PV players created over the years by SolarPower Europe and the successful blueprint of the European Battery Alliance, led by EIT InnoEnergy, with its Business Investment Platform (BIP). “To quickly scale up green energy, we need the insights and cooperation of the industry. “Following the successful launch of the Solar Manufacturing Accelerator in May 2020, today we are delighted to further boost the solar industry, with EIT InnoEnergy, by launching the European Solar Initiative,” she said. EUROPEAN UNION, 2021/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/ CLAUDIO CENTONZE

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SolarPower Europe and EIT InnoEnergy launched on February 23 the European Solar Initiative (ESI), with the support of EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, and French Minister Delegate for Industry Agnès Pannier-Runacher. For his part, EIT InnoEnergy CEO Diego Pavia reminded that enabling strategic value chains which accelerate the energy transition is at the core of EIT InnoEnergy’s mission. This will generate €40bn of GDP annually and create 400,000 new direct and indirect jobs across the PV value chain. “This ESI for the PV industry would be our third, after batteries (EBA) and hydrogen (EGHAC),” he said, adding that the mix of National Energy and Climate plan demand, low cost of capital, notable successes in European technology development and a return of investment into the sector has created fertile ground for a rebirth of European PV. “Europe has learnt from its previous experiences and with the Green Deal’s powerful, unambiguous political and business framework in place, scale and speed are going to be the key to unlocking PV’s potential,” he said. EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson noted that the future of the European energy system is renewable and solar energy has an important role to play in that. A day earlier, Simson said the future of the European energy system is renewable and solar energy has an important role to play in that. The ESI aims to scale up a strong PV manufacturing industry in Europe across the entire value chain from raw materials to recycling, which will capture the additional 20 GW of annual solar demand forecasted in Europe for the next decade. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>SolarPower Europe, EIT InnoEnergy launch European Solar Initiative

By New Europe Online/KG

Kadri Simson

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson during the weekly meeting of the von der Leyen Commission in Berlaymont, Brussels, February 24, 2020. “As the lowest-cost and most job-intensive renewable technology, solar is poised to deliver the goals of the European Green Deal and Green Recovery,” SolarPower Europe CEO Walburga Hemetsberger said, adding that the momentum is building to scale up manufacturing activities in the EU, based on the sustained technological leadership of European companies and strong domestic market uptake confirmed in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. According to SolarPower Europe, the ESI will accelerate Europe’s climate agenda and economic recovery, contributing to the delivery of the European Green Deal objectives. I am therefore very happy to see the launch of the European Solar Initiative, which I’m confident will give a boost to the entire solar PV value chain in Europe,” Simson said.

Think of protecting and restoring wetlands, or developing urban green spaces or restoring peatlands. “If we fail to prevent a 3-degree rise in temperature, this could go up to €170 billion a year. Thirdly, to speed up adaptation, we need to bridge the gap between planning and implementation. There is a lot for us to learn, especially from countries like Bangladesh and small island developing states. Think about what is happening in the Pacific: adaptation has been an existential task for them for some time already, existential in the most literal meaning of the word,” Timmermans said. We will also intensify our collaboration with the insurance sector,” Timmermans said, noting that the climate protection gap across Europe is still high, and too often the financial burden of natural disasters falls on uninsured families and businesses or public finances. The Royal Institute would support the insurance sector with up-to-date information and the best possible scientific knowledge so that insurers know better how to plan and can provide better products at a fairer price to their clients,” he said. The Vice President said that the EU will also start monitoring the health effects of the climate crisis with a new Climate Health Observatory. “First, to make adaptation smarter, we need more data collection and data sharing. The EU will promote sub-national, national and regional approaches to adaptation, with a specific focus on adaptation in Africa and Small Island Developing States. “The EU has consistently lived up to our responsibilities, and we will intensify our work to bring other partners along too. Tailored advice for especially the most vulnerable communities, so that they can find the expertise to plan, and the resources to take action. Commitments on climate finance will play an important role for a successful COP in Glasgow in November. Climate impacts outside our borders will increasingly affect Europe as well. We need to put the money on the table for the emerging part of our planet to be able to take part in facing the climate crisis,” the Vice President said, adding, “If we step up work on adaptation today, we can make the EU, and the planet, much better prepared for the unavoidable changes we will face tomorrow. We will work with the European Investment Bank to boost adaptation financing. We will promote nature-based solutions as much as possible. “Finally, we need to do more at the international level. He also called for considering the impact of climate change on fiscal policies. “It will look at the direct impact of hot and cold extremes and what it means for the spread of new diseases,” he said. EUROPEAN UNION, 2021/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/CLAUDIO CENTONZE

Aims to be climate-resilient by 2050

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The new Climate Adaptation Strategy adopted on February 24 will have to help make the European Union not only climate-neutral but also climate-resilient by 2050, European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said. Under the Climate Adaptation strategy, the Commission will start a dialogue with Member States on the impact of disasters on public finance, he said, adding that this will be the starting point of designing more climate-proof fiscal frameworks. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU Commission adopts new Climate Adaptation Strategy

By New Europe Online/KG

Frans Timmermans

EU Commission Executive VP for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans speaks on the New EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, in Berlaymont, Brussels, February 24, 2021. And we need to do it immediately”. They help adaptation, and at the same time protect the biodiversity, give us cleaner air and give us cooler cities,” Timmermans said. Slower developing threats like sea level rise pose a big risk to the 40% of European GDP that is generated in coastal areas and I think the 40% of Europeans living in coastal areas,” he said. The Paris Agreement established a global goal on adaptation and highlighted adaptation as a key contributor to sustainable development. “Yesterday, in the country I know best, an agreement was reached between the insurance sector and the Royal Institute for Public Health and Environment. With more precise modelling on future hazards, farmers can better plan the crops they plant, families buying a home will know what climate risks they may face, businesses will know how to make new production facilities fit for a hotter planet, and cities will know how to protect their residents from weather extremes,” Timmermans said. Already, extreme weather alone causes an average €12 billion a year in losses. This is one of the first things I say when I speak to my colleagues from other parts of the world, whether it’s Alok Sharma who chairs the COP, or John Kerry, or our Chinese counterparts. “Next, to make adaptation more systemic, we will target more support at the local level. “If we make our adaptation smarter, swifter, and more systemic, we will be able to – and especially also add the international component – we will be able to learn from our partners, to learn from each other, and to make sure we adapt more quickly,” he said.

style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Venezuela’s National Assembly asks government to expel EU ambassador

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08290599 A security member of the President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro removes plastic from the microphone that the president used before a press conference, in Caracas, Venezuela, 12 March 2020. Maduro announced this Thursday the suspension for a month of all flights from Europe and Colombia ‘to add to the preventive processes at the international level’ due to the coronavirus, which, he said, has not yet reached Venezuela. The EU move brings to 55 the total number of individuals subject to sanctions. EPA-EFE/Miguel Gutierrez

A security member of the President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro removes plastic from the microphone that the president used before a press conference, in Caracas, Venezuela, 12 March 2020. The 2015 National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday urged President Nicolas Maduro to call Brilhante Pedrosa persona non grata and to close the EU office in Caracas. Earlier in the week, the Union’s foreign affairs ministers decided to add 19 leading Venezuelan officials to their sanctions list, due to their “role in acts and decisions undermining democracy and the rule of law in the country, or as a result of serious human rights violations.” 
The officials are targeted for undermining the oppositions’ electoral rights and the democratic functioning of the National Assembly, and for serious violations of human rights and restrictions of fundamental freedom, according to a statement issued on Monday. In January, the EU’s heads of state and government had stated they were ready to adopt additional targeted restrictive measures following the outcome of December’s elections in the country. The country’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza would meet with the EU ambassador on Wednesday, along with ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from other EU countries, including from France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. EPA-EFE/Miguel Gutierrez

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Venezuela’s National Assembly has called on the government to expel the European Union’s ambassador to Caracas, Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, after the bloc adopted fresh sanctions against 19 Venezuelan officials.

Denmark has also placed restrictions at its borders since the beginning of the pandemic. Despite recommendations by the Commission, the six EU countries have taken unilateral measures to curb the spread of Coronavirus. “The commission wants to recall to the European member states that it is a necessity to go back to a coordinated approach on all the measures taken in relation to the free movement of people and goods,” the bloc’s justice commissioner Didier Reynders said on Tuesday in a video posted on Twitter. 🇪🇺@EU_Commission has also written to 6 MS to obtain more information on the measures taken. Reynders argued that the measures have gone “too far”, citing that less restrictive measures, such as discouraging travel could also work instead of banning movement from one state to another. #COVID19 @EU_Justice pic.twitter.com/cRDEZ8rc0R
— Didier Reynders (@dreynders) February 23, 2021 Finland has imposed a non-essential travel ban until February 25, while Sweden has blocked entry for those coming from the UK, Denmark and Norway. Hungary, for its part, has kept its borders closed to almost all foreigners since summer. The countries have ten days to provide the EU Executive with explanations about their ban on non-essential travel. In January, Belgium imposed a non-essential travel ban that has been extended to April 1, while earlier this month, Germany placed entry restrictions at its borders with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

European flags in front of European commission headquarters, also called Berlaymont Building in Brussels, Belgium, 13 March 2018. His comments came ahead of a General Affairs Council (GAC) on Tuesday morning, which gathered the bloc’s EU affairs ministers. “The EU Council has agreed on a coordinated approach on free movement to ensure proportionate measures and preserve essential travel,” the Justice Commissioner wrote in another post. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Brussels warns six EU countries against travel restrictions

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa06599923 European flags in front of European commission headquarters, also called Berlaymont Building in Brussels, Belgium, 13 March 2018. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

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Ιn a letter sent to Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary and Sweden, the European Commission has urged the countries to respect the travel restrictions recommendations of the European Council and to align with the Union’s principles in regard to freedom of movement. Doorstep EN | I am participating in the #GAC this morning to recall the importance of a coordinated approach to restrictions on free movement.

This has been developing and escalating ever since the country’s lone oligarch, Bidzina Ivanishvili – a man who made his fortune in Russia in the 1990s – took power in 2012. The Georgian government is now, instead, ruling the law and blocking democracy. A new mission regarding human rights needs to be appointed in order to secure broad support for how said rights are defended and democracy safeguarded. What has happened in Georgia is not a sudden development. If the Georgian government says goodbye to democracy. epa08444570 A man holds a small Georgian national flag while marking the 102th anniversary of the Georgian Independence in Tbilisi, Georgia, 26 May 2020. The EU must stand firm, otherwise, Georgia risks turning into a new Belarus. Furthermore, it must also call for an independent inquiry to look into the issue of the rule of law within the Georgian institutions to secure their independence. It must first call halt the police brutality against the opposition and the immediate release of their leader, Nika Melia. The Act of Independence of Georgia was adopted on 26 May 1918. In order to stabilize democracy and clarify the need for the rule of law, the EU has offered cooperation and a closer relationship, but it hasn’t helped. The hope over the last eight years of Ivanishvili’s formal and informal rule has been that the Georgian vision of belonging to Europe, and not being a satellite of Vladimir Putin’s post-Soviet sphere of influence, should be stronger than the authoritarian instincts of Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream party. By Gunnar Hökmark
President of Stockholm Free World Forum and a former Member of European Parliament. EPA-EFE//ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE
Opposition leaders have in the past been jailed and held in detention, without trials, but Europe’s reactions have always been firm and in the end, they have been freed. Ivanishvili made his fortune in the 1990s in Russia with investments in metals, real estate, and banking.  
Bidzina Ivanishvili speaks during a joint news conference in Tbilisi. At the time a Russian citizen, Ivanishvili returned to Georgia shortly before the 2003 Rose Revolution. If the Georgian government does not listen, the EU must clarify that it will end the Association Agreement that came into force in 2016 as well as the visa-free travel regimen that came into being in 2017. EPA-EFE/ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE

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What we are seeing today in Georgia is a broken democracy. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Is this goodbye to Georgia’s democracy? Since Ivanishivili’s rise to power, Georgia’s democracy has been, step-by-step, undermined. it must understand that it also says goodbye to the European Union. When the main opposition leader is dragged out of his party’s headquarters on the direct orders of the government, the country has said goodbye to democracy. At that point, Georgia’s spectacular success in fighting corruption, creating economic growth and increased prosperity – all of which began in the wake of the 2003 Rose Revolution – came to an end. He was deeply involved in the work with the Eastern Partnership and its parliamentary structures, as well as in closer relations with Georgia. Elections have been manipulated, but they have at least taken place and have ultimately proven to be a problem for the governing party they have been forced to rig the results as well as persecute the opposition and crackdown on the independent media.

He stressed, however, that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would not have the same level of access and there will not be any snap inspections, but IAEA would still be “able to retain the necessary degree of monitoring and verification work”. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Iran, IAEA agree to nuclear inspection deal with less access

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa08039292 Designated Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi of Argentina, delivers a speech during a Special Session of IAEA General Conference at the IAEA headquarters of the UN seat in Vienna, Austria, 02 December 2019. The announcement marked another challenge to Biden, who hopes to restore the nuclear deal, after Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2018. His visit to Iran for emergency talks came amid advanced efforts between the US under Joe Biden’s administration, EU nations and Tehran to salvage the 2015 deal. Grossi will assume office as IAEA Director General on 03 December 2019. “We are going to keep this understanding we reached under review constantly – so if we want to suspend it or extend it, this can be done,” he added, noting that the agreement “salvages the situation for now”. Last week, Iran threatened to block snap inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog from next week if other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal do not uphold their obligations. However, following Trump’s withdrawal from the deal, Tehran began breaching some of the terms. “If others do not fulfil their obligations by Feb. EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

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The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, Rafael Mariano Grossi said it reached an agreement with Iran to continue the “necessary monitoring” of the country’s nuclear activities for up to three months. EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

Designated Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi of Argentina, delivers a speech during a Special Session of IAEA General Conference at the IAEA headquarters of the UN seat in Vienna, Austria, 02 December 2019. In January, the country resumed enriching uranium to 20% purity at the Fordow facility, exceeding by far the limit of 3.67% allowed under the nuclear deal. 21, the government is obliged to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol,” the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said. Under the deal, namely the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran agreed to curbs on its uranium enrichment program in return for the lifting of US sanctions. “We reached a temporary bilateral technical understanding whereby the agency is going to continue its necessary verification and monitoring activities for a period of up to three months,” Grossi told reporters after his return from Tehran, Reuters reported.