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Bioeconomy: Challenges and opportunities

19-01-2017

The bioeconomy refers to the production and extraction of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food and feed, bio-based products and bioenergy. Although primarily based on activities carried out, in some form, for centuries or millennia (such as farming, fisheries or forestry), the bioeconomy emerged in the past decade as a knowledge-driven concept aimed at meeting a number of today's challenges. In the European Union (EU), the bioeconomy sectors have an annual turnover of about ...

The bioeconomy refers to the production and extraction of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food and feed, bio-based products and bioenergy. Although primarily based on activities carried out, in some form, for centuries or millennia (such as farming, fisheries or forestry), the bioeconomy emerged in the past decade as a knowledge-driven concept aimed at meeting a number of today's challenges. In the European Union (EU), the bioeconomy sectors have an annual turnover of about €2 trillion and employ between 17 and 19 million people. They use almost three quarters of the EU land area. A stronger bioeconomy could trigger growth and jobs, and reduce dependency on imports. It could contribute to optimising the use of biological resources, which remain finite although they are renewable. However, it could also create competition between uses and technologies at various levels. Besides, the amount of available biomass remains disputed. A bioeconomy could contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving public health. However, it could also trigger new greenhouse gas emissions and induce adverse impacts on the environment. The EU policy framework for the bioeconomy is spread across a number of policies (agriculture, forestry, fisheries, climate, circular economy and research). Although a bioeconomy strategy from 2012 aims to ensure policy coherence, inconsistencies remain. The EU provides funding to innovative bioeconomy activities through the framework programme for research (Horizon 2020) and a range of other instruments. The European Parliament has been supportive of the bioeconomy strategy, while highlighting the need for sustainability and policy coherence.

Sanctions over Ukraine: Impact on Russia

11-03-2016

In early 2014, Russia violated international law by annexing Crimea and allegedly fomenting separatist uprisings in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass. The European Union, the United States and several other Western countries responded with diplomatic measures in March 2014, followed by asset freezes and visa bans targeted at individuals and entities. In July 2014, sanctions targeting the Russian energy, defence and financial sectors were adopted. These sanctions have not swayed Russian public ...

In early 2014, Russia violated international law by annexing Crimea and allegedly fomenting separatist uprisings in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass. The European Union, the United States and several other Western countries responded with diplomatic measures in March 2014, followed by asset freezes and visa bans targeted at individuals and entities. In July 2014, sanctions targeting the Russian energy, defence and financial sectors were adopted. These sanctions have not swayed Russian public opinion, which continues to staunchly back the Kremlin's actions in Ukraine. The diplomatic impact has also been limited, particularly now that Russia's military intervention in Syria has helped it to break out of diplomatic isolation. On the other hand, sectoral sanctions have proved painful, aggravating the economic downturn triggered by falling oil prices. Sanctions have affected the Russian economy in various ways. The main short-term impact comes from restrictions on Western lending and investment in Russia. Oil and gas production remains unaffected for the time being, but in the long term energy exports are likely to suffer. Meanwhile, Russian counter-sanctions are benefiting the agricultural sector, but consumers are losing out in terms of choice and price. So far, the overall impact of sanctions has been to isolate Russia from the global economy and hold back economic modernisation.

The Prospect of Eastern Mediterranean Gas Production: An Alternative Energy Supplier for the EU?

15-04-2014

Israeli gas discoveries in 2009 and 2010 have transformed the Eastern Mediterranean into a natural gas producing region and a potential energy exporter for European and Asian markets. However, the turbulent political situation in Egypt, the Syrian civil war, the tensions between Israel and Gaza, the long-lasting dispute between Turkey and Cyprus, and the maritime border disputes cast a shadow on this economic opportunity. Moreover, the gas industry in the Eastern Mediterranean is at an infant stage ...

Israeli gas discoveries in 2009 and 2010 have transformed the Eastern Mediterranean into a natural gas producing region and a potential energy exporter for European and Asian markets. However, the turbulent political situation in Egypt, the Syrian civil war, the tensions between Israel and Gaza, the long-lasting dispute between Turkey and Cyprus, and the maritime border disputes cast a shadow on this economic opportunity. Moreover, the gas industry in the Eastern Mediterranean is at an infant stage, and the countries concerned seem unable to coordinate their plans for future exports. Global actors are ready to exploit the Eastern Mediterranean’s strategic implications. Russia aims to safeguard its gas monopoly, the United States to support its business interest, and Europe to increase its energy security and reduce dependence on Russia in the light of the Crimean crisis. In this context, the European Union should back the strategic triangle of Israel, Cyprus and Turkey as a first step towards the construction of an Eastern Mediterranean energy corridor.

The EU’s Energy Security Made Urgent by the Crimean Crisis

10-04-2014

The crisis in Crimea has led to a first round of sanctions between Russia and the EU – and may well lead to more. For both the EU and Russia, energy constitutes the main risk in this clash, as the two actors are largely interdependent: Russia exports 65 % of its gas to Europe, while the EU imports roughly one third of its natural gas from Russia. Among EU Member States, the level of dependency varies greatly, as does their ability to respond to Russian threats. Military and political tensions are ...

The crisis in Crimea has led to a first round of sanctions between Russia and the EU – and may well lead to more. For both the EU and Russia, energy constitutes the main risk in this clash, as the two actors are largely interdependent: Russia exports 65 % of its gas to Europe, while the EU imports roughly one third of its natural gas from Russia. Among EU Member States, the level of dependency varies greatly, as does their ability to respond to Russian threats. Military and political tensions are obliging the EU to boost its energy security mechanisms and to seek out short- and long-term alternatives to Russian gas. The Union’s reserves are at present half-full, thanks to a mild winter, although no-one knows what the next winter will bring. Several studies have suggested that in the short term the EU could substitute Algerian, Iranian, Norwegian and Qatari gas for Russian gas, although the price would naturally be higher. Yet the risk of recession is estimated to be lower than was the case in the 1970 oil crisis. Most of the new supply would come via cargo ships, bypassing traditional pipelines, although this will require the rapid creation of new gas terminals. In the longer term, Azeri, US and Turkmenistan gas supplies may also quench the thirsty European market, depending on commercial and technical conditions. Other energy policies (focusing on renewable sources, greater efficiency, nuclear power, shale gas and the interconnection of the energy grids) can also play a role in reducing – if not completely eliminating – Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

Raw materials

30-03-2011

As global demand for resources continues to grow, the EU, as an importer of raw materials, needs a coherent strategy to ensure reliable access at fair market prices. Just as important are strategies to improve resource efficiency within Europe.

As global demand for resources continues to grow, the EU, as an importer of raw materials, needs a coherent strategy to ensure reliable access at fair market prices. Just as important are strategies to improve resource efficiency within Europe.

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