Gregor Erbach

Gregor Erbach has written 18 posts for European Parliamentary Research Service Blog

Unconventional gas and oil in North America

The ‘shale revolution’ Over the past decade, the United States and Canada have experienced spectacular growth in the production of unconventional fossil fuels, notably shale gas and tight oil, thanks to technological innovations such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Economic impacts This new supply of energy has led to falling gas prices and … Continue reading

In Focus: Energy Security

Will the people of Europe have difficulty to keep warm this winter? Recent events in Ukraine have highlighted the weakness of the EU’s current energy supply arrangements. This week we take a look at the issue, the alternatives, and the possible actions to be taken. The importance of a secure energy supply to the EU … Continue reading

Reducing the use of lightweight plastic carrier bags

Europeans use about 100 billion plastic carrier bags every year. Some of these are dropped as litter, ending up in the environment, where long-lasting plastics accumulate and harm wildlife. Most EU Member States have initiatives to curb the use of plastic bags. A proposed EU Directive aims to encourage and enable action by all Member … Continue reading

EU and US competition policies: Similar objectives, different approaches

Both the EU and the US have well-developed competition policies that aim to prevent and penalise anticompetitive behaviour. Although the EU and US systems share similar aims, there are a number of significant differences. The EU has an administrative system for antitrust enforcement, in which companies are penalised with fines. In contrast, US antitrust enforcement is based on criminal … Continue reading

Secure, clean and affordable energy for Europe

The EU is developing energy policies that aim to ensure security of supply, affordable energy for households and industry, and a reduction of carbon emissions in line with EU climate commitments. A new global energy landscape The global energy landscape keeps changing. Electricity from renewable sources has been gaining market share, but there are concerns … Continue reading

EU climate and energy policies post-2020: Energy security, competitiveness and decarbonisation

The European Commission recently presented its proposals for post-2020 climate and energy policies. It is now up to Parliament and Member States to reach an agreement. The current “20-20-20” targets focus on decarbonisation through the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the deployment of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures. The global context for … Continue reading

Reducing CO2 emissions from new cars

Parliament and Council reached a first reading agreement on CO2 emission targets for new passenger cars in November 2013. The agreed text specifies modalities for reaching a CO2 emissions target of 95 g/km by the end of 2020. It allows for flexibility in the use of so called super-credits, which encourage production of cars with … Continue reading

Criminal sanctions for financial market abuse

In order to deter insider dealing and market manipulation, and restore confidence in financial markets, the European Commission has proposed a framework that would require all Member States (MS) to impose criminal sanctions for market abuse. Continue reading

Maritime spatial planning

Some EU Member States (MS) have introduced a maritime spatial planning (MSP) process to manage the activities taking place within their seas and coastal areas. Increased activities at sea are expected to contribute to economic growth and innovation. The E uropean Commission has proposed a Directive that would oblige MS to make such plans and … Continue reading

A sunny outlook for cloud computing

Part of our daily life Cloud computing is becoming a part of everyday life. Most of us use webmail services and social networks to communicate; we can also use the cloud to store and share our photos and videos. I wrote and edited this text on a blog publishing platform in the cloud – maybe … Continue reading

Adapting to a changing climate in Europe: Strategies for reducing risk and building resilience

Global temperatures on land have risen by 0.9°C since the 1950s, and are expected to continue rising by 2°C and more, compared to pre-industrial temperatures. The changing climate affects many sectors of business and society. Different kinds of adap­tation measures are needed for each situ­ation – there is no one-size fits all approach. Adaptation to a … Continue reading

Safe and innovative medical devices

6 language versions available in PDF format Unbedenkliche und innovative Medizinprodukte Productos sanitarios innovadores y seguros Dispositifs médicaux sûrs et innovants Dispositivi medici sicuri e innovativi Bezpieczne i innowacyjne wyroby medyczne Safe and innovative medical devices Innovation in medical devices benefits patients, doctors and the medical technology industry. The European Commission has proposed legis­lation aimed … Continue reading

Towards a global climate agreement

“Creating new momentum for a global climate deal” was the title of a lunchtime debate organised by Friends of Europe on 18 September 2013. The debate focused on the progress towards a new global climate agreement, which is to be adopted in 2015. The new agreement should be applicable to all countries, not just the … Continue reading

Hard times for carbon capture and storage

CO2 emissions are growing Global CO2 emissions continue to grow (34 billion tonnes in 2011), despite all reduction efforts. This trend is expected to continue, with more than 1000 new coal-fired power plants planned worldwide. Although coal releases 60% more CO2 than natural gas, the low prices of coal and of carbon emission allowances make … Continue reading

Electronic cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) work by vaporising nicotine liquid. They are aimed at people who do not want to smoke tobacco but cannot or do not want to overcome their nicotine addiction. They are mostly produced in China, and marketed in Europe by small and medium-sized firms. The market is growing rapidly. The variety of products … Continue reading

EU policy on endocrine disruptors

Endocrine disruptors (EDs) are substances that disturb the functioning of hormones, and are associated with various human health problems, including reduced fertility and reproductive abnormalities. EDs can act at very low doses and are especially dangerous during pregnancy and in infancy. Despite intensive research efforts, there are still major gaps in understanding of endocrine disruption … Continue reading

F-gases: good for the ozone layer, bad for the climate

The EU is taking steps to reduce the use of fluorinated gases (F-gases). F-gases have replaced ozone-destroying substances, but as potent greenhouse gases they contribute significantly to global warming. In the 1980s, scientists discovered that the earth’s protective ozone layer was thinning, raising the risk of skin cancer and cataracts. The culprits were chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), … Continue reading

Health threats from endocrine disruptors: A scientific and regulatory challenge

Endocrine disruptors (ED) are substances that disturb the functioning of hormones and have negative effects on human health and wildlife. EDs can act at very low doses, and are especially dangerous during pregnancy and in infancy. Combinations of substances can have different effects to the same substances in isolation. Despite intense research efforts, there are … Continue reading

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