The Week Ahead: EU in Spotlight as Cyprus Takes Over Six-Month Presidential Term


Energy, sustainable development, and follow-up on the Rio+20 summit are among the priorities Cyprus said it will focus on during its six-month term as president of the Council of the European Union.

Holding the Council presidency means setting agendas and steering debates on mainly budgetary, economic, and societal matters. Cyprus holds the presidency from July 1 through Dec. 31.

Cyprus said in Towards a Better Europe--a document outlining its priorities during the six-month presidency--that it will focus on policy instruments, like the "Trans-European Networks" and "Connecting Europe Facility," which are designed to strengthen links among Europe's energy, transportation, and telecommunications infrastructure. It also will promote cleaner transport modes and facilitate use of renewable energy in line with the "Europe 2020 Strategy" for smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth.

Meanwhile, follow-up on commitments made by countries during the Rio+20 summit held in June will likely be challenging. As detailed in a June 28 World Climate Change Report article, more than 700 commitments were made at the summit, officially called the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development. The Rio+20 commitments represent more than $513 billion of investment in sustainable development activities, including clean transportation and environmentally friendly agriculture.

Also likely to come up during the six-month presidential term are efforts by to advance a low-carbon road map and energy efficiency measures As detailed in a March 15 article, the European Parliament voted in favor of such measures to reduce the European Union's greenhouse gas emissions through 2050, ensure the effectiveness of the EU Emissions Trading System, and move forward with new energy efficiency legislation.

In March 2011, the European Commission voted in favor of a low-carbon road map that would set nonbinding "milestones" of a 40 percent emissions reduction by 2030 and a 60 percent reduction by 2040, leading to at least an an 80 percent reduction by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. The EU Council has been unable to endorse the road map because of a veto by Poland. While Parliament's vote is only advisory, it adds to the pressure for EU governments to resolve the impasse.

After Cyprus, Ireland is next in line to take over the council presidency Jan. 1, 2013.

GSA To Launch Online Forum

The General Services Administration is expected this week to launch an online forum on that will enable companies to share their experience with creating sustainable supply chains.

As detailed in a June 25 articledata .gov already makes government data on health, air quality, and other topics available to the public and now will do so with supply chain information. The forum will cover several sectors, including information technology, furniture, building materials, waste management, and professional services.

GSA said it will use the information to prepare a definition of what constitutes a sustainable supply chain in the industry sectors and will present the definition during the GreenGov Symposium in September in Washington, D.C.