Category Archives: Group 3

EU set to fix gender imbalance on company boards

By: Lisa Coxon and Cleo Tse.

The European Commission wants 40 percent of company boards to be female by 2020, especially at a time when they can boost economic growth

Stepping into an office at the European Commission is indicative of how overwhelming bringing about change can be. This is where all EU legislation begins. Mina Andreeva shuffles through piles of papers as a giant, intimidating stack balances on the arm of a couch near the window. Andreeva is the spokeswoman for EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, the woman who spearheaded the recent proposal last November to get more women onto EU company boards, which men currently dominate.

factbox

Diverse boards more profitable
Women make up 60% of university graduates today, making them an untapped pool of economic potential for companies. However, they are underrepresented at executive company levels. Several studies indicate that diverse company boards are more sustainable and profitable. An analysis conducted by consulting firm McKinsey&Company in April 2012 shows that companies with the highest number of women in top management had the best performance.

Source: McKinsey&Company – Women as a Valuable Asset, April 2012
Source: McKinsey&Company – Women as a Valuable Asset, April 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The directive

In March 2011, Reding created a pledge for companies to sign within one year, making a voluntary commitment to have 30% women on boards by 2015 and 40% by 2020. Only 24 companies signed. Reding initially proposed a quota but the Commission favoured a procedural flexi quota, which means the law only applies only to recruitment procedures, not the actual 40% target.

“It’s a smart quota because we are saying how to get there by making use of the talent that exists,” says Andreeva.

The directive – or proposed legislation – now sits before the European Parliament (EP). It opts for 40% of the underrepresented sex to fill non-executive board positions by 2020 within publicly listed companies, excluding small and medium enterprises. It allows flexible objectives to be set by companies themselves for executive positions. If an equally qualified male and female candidate applies for a board position, priority should be given to the underrepresented sex. Once sustainable progress has been made in gender composition of boards, the directive expires.

Companies will not face sanctions if they fail to meet 40% by 2020, but will be sanctioned by their respective member states if they lack transparent and gender-neutral hiring processes. The directive must be adopted by EP and the Council of Ministers for it to become law.

Sanctions
It is up to member states to implement sanctions against companies who do not strive to meet the 40%, but the Commission can execute infringement cases against member states if they are not complying and fail to explain why. It can also revoke money provided to boards and conduct “naming and shaming” – making it highly visible to the public which member states are not making progress.

The Commission will not impose provisions on schemes that are working already. The Commission will assess them and if sufficient, companies will be able to carry on as is.

Economic growth
According to Sylvia Walby, professor of sociology at Lancaster University in the UK, economic growth strategies are gendered. The old, idealized model of the EU emphasized economic growth via full employment of women and minorities, and practices that reconciled family and work life. The recent budget adopted by the EU in February presents a new model, justifying economic growth through the use of austerity measures ­­– cuts in public expenditure, that at a national level seem small, but at a local level have a much more significant impact.

Sylvia Walby/Screenshot from interview March 6, 2013 By: Lisa Coxon and Cleo Tse
Sylvia Walby/Screenshot from interview March 6, 2013
By: Lisa Coxon and Cleo Tse

These cuts have disproportionate impacts on those least protected by statutory law – women being among them. Walby says this current model will wreck the possibilities of economic growth.

“Economic growth requires full employment,” she says.

 

Progress

Only 11 out of 27 member states have made any progress with promoting gender equality on boards, while two-thirds have done nothing at all.

According to Andreeva, since the Commission threatened member states with regulatory action, the figures have improved. Last year, it saw the biggest year-on-year increase of women on boards among member states – 2%. Prior to this, it was only 0.6%.

Among the frontrunners are France and Finland, while Malta and Hungary have the least women on boards. Despite the lack of progress in most member states, Walby says the EU is still the best polity in terms of gender equality. 

Source: European Commission’s National Factsheet: Gender balance in Boards, January 2013
Source: European Commission’s National Factsheet: Gender balance in Boards, January 2013

Under the Danish corporate governance code, companies should strive for a diverse board. This is not just gender-specific, but focuses on all forms of diversity including nationality.

Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company, was one of several participants at the Business Leaders Summit on Women in March 2011, a summit held in Brussels where Reding met with CEOs and chairs of publicly listed companies to discuss how to get more women into top jobs and whether self-regulation is the way to do this. Novo strives for 100% of its management teams to be diverse by 2014 – at least one female and one non-Dane.  Scott Dille, communications manager, says that at Novo, talent trumps gender.

“Talent is recognized and talent is then promoted into accelerated training programs,” he says.

Novo has two training programs for women in management and women on the path to management. Out of 19 board members at Novo, 3 are women.

The Norway example
Norway introduced a 40% quota in 2003 and remains the country with the highest proportion of women on boards. Norway’s quota law is often seen as a benchmark, but Norwegian companies have also implemented voluntary methods in accordance with the quota, such as full daycare coverage and 14 weeks of paternal leave. Currently, there are 41% women on supervisory company boards in Norway.

The Q-Word: for or against
There is no middle ground in the discussion about quotas; some believe voluntary measures are the best method and that quotas infringe on subsidiarity, while others believe quotas are the only way to achieve gender equality. Quotas worked for Norway, but Sweden, which ranks third in terms of highest proportion of women on boards, does not use quotas.

“Quotas are a necessary evil,” says MEP Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.

Walby says there is no existing historical example of a country meeting 40% women on boards without quotas, so will an objective be enough to reach the target?

“The change from voluntary methods is usually very slow, so if quotas are rejected but voluntary methods are embraced more enthusiastically, we should expect to see very, very slow change,” says Walby.

Within the Commission however, quotas and EU involvement were sticky subjects. Connie Hedegaard, Danish commissioner on climate action, is not in favour of this target being achieved through quotas.

Connie Hedegaard talks to DMXJ students at the European Commission March 5, 2013 Photo by: Lisa Coxon
Connie Hedegaard talks to DMXJ students at the European Commission March 5, 2013
Photo by: Lisa Coxon

“The right approach is to remove the obstacles… if you have an obligatory target then you must also be able to enforce it. There is too much of Europe setting targets without being able to enforce it,” she says. Hedegaard believes we need to leave this up to the member states, but doing so, according to Walby, is a common initial response.

“The people that make this argument… would really like to see more women on boards; they claim it. They claim that voluntary methods will get us there. So let’s take it at face value that voluntary mechanisms will be tried and if they fail, which I expect they will, then the quotas kick in. Almost all of the forms of quota legislation that we’ve seen in Europe have had this pre-aversion period,” she says.

Executive positions
There is an even greater gender imbalance among executive board positions. Executive directors are those involved in the daily management of a company, whereas non-executive directors perform a supervisory function.

The panel at Women and the economic crisis conference at the European Parliament on March 5, 2013 LtoR: Isabella Lenarduzzi, Evelyn Regner, Silvana Koch-Mehrin, and Edite Estrela Photo by: Lisa Coxon
The panel at Women and the economic crisis conference at the European Parliament on March 5, 2013 LtoR: Isabella Lenarduzzi, Evelyn Regner, Silvana Koch-Mehrin, and Edite Estrela
Photo by: Lisa Coxon

Member of EP (MEP) Evelyn Regner, Vice-Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee says this directive is a “cautious but realistic approach.” The Commission, she says, doesn’t want to “ask for everything and receive nothing,” especially when there is already resistance among member states in these early stages of negotiation. Germany, for example, came out against gender quotas on March 6 before negotiations had even started.

The Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA), a political group in EP, would like to see the 40% objective extended to executive boards.

The Greens/EFA panel at Get women on board: Will the EU do what it takes? conference on March 7, 2013 Greens Deputy Marije Cornelissen (fourth from left) says the biggest hurdle will be to win the vote of the Council of Ministers/Photo by: Lisa Coxon
The Greens/EFA panel at Get women on board: Will the EU do what it takes? conference on March 7, 2013
Greens Deputy Marije Cornelissen (fourth from left) says the biggest hurdle will be to win the vote of the Council of Ministers/Photo by: Lisa Coxon


Legal action is helpful, but the underlying problem is an ideological one and it is far easier to change laws than it is to change mindsets. The crisis is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality.

“You need to be able to change the culture of a company,” says Regner.

 

EU countries fail to meet animal welfare standards

Nine member states failed to meet the deadline on the EU’s animal welfare directive on the housing of pregnant sows, resulting in a distorted and unfair pig industry throughout Europe. The member-states have until next month to comply before further legal procedures are launched.

By Marie-Josée Kelly and Kristine Walkden

 The failure to conform to the EU´s sow housing legislation by January 1st, 2012, has raised speculation over the effectiveness of the implementation of animal-welfare laws.

 The directive was introduced in 2001; member states have had 12 years to implement the legislation, yet of the major pig producing countries, Germany, France and Ireland were reported to be least compliant. Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Poland and Portugal were also targeted by the European Commission earlier this year.

Current state of implementation of partial sow stall ban among EU MS (%)
Bel Bul Cz Est Ire Gre Esp Fr It
Compliance 89 100 99 100 82 82 96 72 99
Lith Lux Hun Mal Pol Port Rom SIn UK
Compliance 100 100 99 90 93 58 100 95 100
D Swe NL Svk Cyp Dk Aus Fin Lat
Compliance 73 100 98 100 63 94 100 98 100
*Data collected until Jan 15; Reported by Agrafacts.

The directive bans the use of individual stalls for housing of pregnant sows during part of their pregnancy while also improving the quality of flooring, increasing living space, allowing sows to have permanent access to materials for rooting, all while providing better training on animal welfare issues for farm personnel.

 Martyn Griffiths of Eurogroup for animals, an animal welfare organization responsible for representing animal welfare interests on EU advisory committees, says that following the implementation of past legislation there is uncertainty concerning the figures presented to the EU in light of the banning of sow stalls.

Martyn Griffiths of Eurogroup for animals has been advocating for animal welfare for over 20 years. Photo: Marie-Josée Kelly
Martyn Griffiths of Eurogroup for animals has been advocating for animal welfare for over 20 years. Photo: Marie-Josée Kelly

 Upon analysis of official reports and action plans produced by Denmark, following the enforcement of EU regulation on the protection of farm animals during transport, Eurogroup concluded that Denmark had “fallen short of a number of requirements contained in the EC Transport Regulation… it failed to comply with the basic EC request for analyses and action plans in addition to reports, it is not able to demonstrate that it has carried out an adequate proportion of inspections.”

 Reliving the past

 A similar animal welfare directive, introduced in 1999, banning the use of battery cages for laying hens and advancing the necessity for cage enrichment came into effect at the start of 2012. Likewise, many farms were late in adhering to the law at the time.

 The European Commission is following the same course of action in the non-implementation of the sow stall ban as it did with the prohibition of battery cages.

 Countries not complying with the requirement have two months to reply and come up with an adequate response to the formal notice letter. If the response is not satisfactory, the European Commission will issue a Reasoned Opinion, which gives the countries two additional months to meet the directive. If after that period, member states are still non-compliant they will be taken before the European Court of Justice.

 The implementation of the laying hens directive was closely monitored after it was found that a significant number of countries had not complied by the deadline which Griffiths believes has influenced the Commission in moving forward with infringement procedures rapidly but that it should have put more pressure on ensuring the deadline was met.

 “The Commission argues that until a law comes into effect they can’t do anything. We think that this is a weakness of the Commission.”

European Commission headquarters in Brussels. Photo: Marie-Josee Kelly
European Commission headquarters in Brussels. Photo: Marie-Josee Kelly

 Obstacles in the way to compliance

 Pig farmers across the EU are putting forth the current economic crisis as an excuse for their inability to comply with the directive on time. Even in Denmark, which has been spared some of the more harsh austerity measures inflicted on its EU counterparts, farmers have encountered difficulties in making the investments when banks have been reluctant to lend them the necessary funds to expand.

 There is some fear that because some pig producers will not be able to afford the investment in new stalls, pork production will be reduced and prices will be increased for European consumers. Member states that are fully compliant with the sow stall ban, such as the United Kingdom, who banned their usage in 1999, are left at a disadvantage competitively because of the investments they have made in order to comply with the recently adopted requirement.

 Henrik Mortensen, Chairman of the Danish Pig Producing Society, acknowledges that Danish pig farmers have encountered troubles with the banks but also extends some of the blame to local governments for making the transition complex. Danish law sets out that in order to make any changes to their farms and barns, farmers must apply for legal permission.

 “Even people who have applied 3 years ago haven’t been able to get the permission from the Danish government,” said Mortensen. “They have made it really tough to build and follow this directive according to their laws.” Some farmers are still awaiting permission to expand.

 Shared responsibility

 Although it is up to governments to ensure that the directive be implemented adequately, retailers and consumers also play an important role in safeguarding animal welfare.

 There is a growing trend across the EU that indicates that more consumers are calling for more transparent pork labelling, according to Griffiths, while a growing number of retailers are pledging not to import illegal pork meat and by-products.

 Mortensen wants the trend to carry on in Denmark.

 “We [Danish pig producers society] hope that [Danish] retailers decide to start a campaign only buy legal meat from farmers who have followed this rule. Then we, Denmark and the slaughterhouses will make more money.”

For more on the situation in Denmark click here.

Minister: Danish sow farmers an “embarrassment”

By Kristine Walkden & Marie-Josée Kelly

Danish pig farmers are criticizing tough licensing processes and lack of support from Danish decision-makers, after being called an “embarrassment” by Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Mette Gjerskov.

The Danish Situation

On an idyllic farm in the countryside of Skanderborg, Danish sow farmer Ole Larsen smiles proudly as he cradles a tiny wide-eyed piglet who was born only a day earlier. The piglet stares at Larsen dumbfounded before being placed back into its crate with 10 others. Larsen explains, “Our farm is animal-welfare friendly. We try our very best to take care and ensure a good life for them.”

Danish sow farmer Ole Larsen has been using group housing for over a decade. Photo: Marie-Josee Kelly
Danish sow farmer Ole Larsen has been using group housing for over a decade. Photo: Marie-Josee Kelly

Larsen is among over 90% of Danish sow farmers who have successfully met the EU’s standards on the directive of the housing of pregnant sows. Approximately 6 percent of sow farmers nationwide are failing to live up to regulations and have three months to do so before having to go before the EU’s court. Larsen changed his system from single-stall housing to group housing in 1999 even before the directive was officially introduced in 2001. He explains that while making the transition was easy back then, today Danish sow farmers are facing difficulties in trying to change their systems.

The biggest problem in Denmark today isn’t just the money or the economy, it’s getting the permission to build. The environmental laws today make it very hard to get a license because they consider so many things,” he said.

“The problem is it takes 3-4 years to do so. We cannot make a business when it takes such a long time to do anything. We need to get that changed if Danish farming is going to continue on.”

http://youtu.be/7UEe0jkCByc

Larsen explained that most Danish sow farmers were unable to meet the EU’s deadline because they are still waiting on a building license from their municipal governments after applying 4 years earlier. Though Larsen only had to wait 7 months for his building license back in 1999, he knows from experience how hard it is to get a license today. Larsen said he spent half a million kroner and waited five years until he finally received a license last week to build a new slaughter house.

An embarrassment at the EU

I think frankly, it is embarrassing,” Food Minister Mette Gjerskov told the press after receiving news that Denmark had not fully complied to the sow housing directive. “The Danish farm industry has pressed very hard for me to go to Brussels and wag my finger at all sorts of other countries.”

When some farmers asked for more time to make the changes, Gjerskov showed how seriously she took the directive and animal-welfare legislation by stating on twitter, “No amnesty to farmers that don’t set sows free. They have had ten years to restructure animal welfare.” Later that week, Gjerskov supported the EU Heath and Consumer Commission’s threat to initiate a lawsuit against countries that fail to abide by the EU’s standards of animal-welfare legislation.

Dan Jorgensen, a Danish Social Democrat member of the European Parliament, commented on Denmark’s inability to comply by the January 1st deadline. “I think it is a disgrace especially because we are a country that prides itself on being better than so many other countries on protecting animal-welfare.”

According to Denmark’s Pig Research Centre, there have been a number of recent initiatives undertaken in the country, which will provide continuing momentum in increasing animal-welfare and safety standards within the country’s pig industry. They said in the next years, there will be a movement towards more risk-based control of standards on Danish farms which will provide an incentive for all producers to aim for best practice.

Pig producers turn the blame around

Henrik Mortensen is chairman of the Danish Pig Producers, an association that attempts to influence decision makers through political activities and inform authorities about developments in Danish pig production.

Mortensen said the Danish pig industry has been unfairly punished as he believes Danish farming standards are for the most part, better than other EU countries who have claimed they have fully complied to the directive.

In a public letter to Minister Mette Gjerskov, Mortensen criticized the minister for implying that Danish pig farmers had undermined the country’s position in the EU. Like Larsen, Mortensen said the reason six percent of pig farmers were unable to comply was because “Danish authorities did not prioritize the 2013 requirements relating to the processing of environmental permits.”

Mortensen wrote: “Why have we not a minister in charge of our interests rather than chastise us?…I yearn for politicians who will be based in reality and treating pig and agriculture as valuable contributors to society. Without that, we must always be exposed to arrogance and scorn.”

Mortensen said the Minister has not yet replied to his letter or several other attempts Mortensen has made raising concern about the fairness of the Danish pig market within the country and throughout the EU.

The Danish pig industry has never said it didn’t want this (directive). Where I come from, everyone was planning to be hundred percent ready and figure out how to deal with people that weren’t ready by 2013,” he said. “But the government and systems have made it hard to do so…We had all agreed that we have many years to fulfill this goal and this is the way to go.”

Sows still suffering in EU

By Kristine Walkden and Marie-Josée Kelly

Imagine yourself being cramped inside a crate only as big as your body so you can’t physically stand up or move around for 8 days.

Individual crate where pregnant sows were kept during pregnancy before the EU ban. Photo: Marie-Josee Kelly
Individual crate where pregnant sows were kept during pregnancy before the EU ban. Photo: Marie-Josee Kelly

 This is how Martyn Griffiths, of Eurogroup for Animals, explains the reality that pregnant sows are facing living in a small percentage of farms in Europe, event after the EU’s ban was implemented at the beginning of this year.

 Legal procedures have been launched against nine member states who have yet to comply with animal-welfare legislation that bans single-stall housing by the January 1st deadline while pigs continue to endure poor living conditions.

For more information click here.

Air traffic controllers impede common EU airspace

By Lasse Skou Andersen and Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen.

Powerful air traffic controllers are proving to be a major opponent for the EU in its efforts to create a common European airspace.

Niels Remmer, Head of Department at the Danish Transport Authority, (photo) fears that air traffic controllers will succeed in impeding the efforts to create a common European airspace Photo: Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen
Niels Remmer, Head of Department at the Danish Transport Authority, fears that air traffic controllers will succeed in impeding the efforts to create a common European airspace

Air traffic controllers are probably not the first people to come to mind, when you think of the politically powerful. But perhaps they should be.

According to Niels Remmer, head of department at the Danish Transport Authority, and member of the EU commission committee on a common airspace in Europe, the air traffic controllers’ unions are having success delaying the Single European Sky – a directive that aims to cut costs and emissions of aviation by merging the national airspaces into blocs.

“Air traffic controllers in especially Germany and France are causing trouble. They are not interested in the common airspace, because they are afraid that they will lose jobs in the process of implementing the Single European Sky,” says Niels Remmer.

Rulers of the sky
The air traffic controllers rule the sky. They decide when the planes can leave and land in an airport, and decide if the predestined flight route can be followed. If they decide to strike, the planes are grounded, and air traffic comes to a standstill.

The fear of such a situation is a main factor behind the delay in the Single European Sky, says Niels Remmer. Other sources involved in the work with the common airspace tell a similar story.

The common airspace was supposed to be largely functioning from December 2012, but only Denmark, Sweden, the UK, and Ireland have lived up to their obligations.

‘It’s about safety’
The German air control Union (GDF) are not against the idea of a common airspace in the EU, but the organisation believes that the current goals are unrealistic, Michael Schäfer, President of the GDF, explains:

“Safety is the main issue. In its current form, the Single European Sky will mean fewer employees, negatively affecting the safety in the sky. Therefore, we find the present EU Commission goals to be dangerous and unreliable,” says Michael Schäfer.

READ MORE: EU countries could face trial over aviation

READ MORE: EU countries procrastinate on greener aviation

EU countries could face trials over aviation

On a busy day, there are more than 33,000 flights in Europe. The picture shows all airborne planes as of March 17th 1:32 pm Illustration: flightradar24.com
On a busy day, there are more than 33,000 flights in Europe. The picture shows all airborne planes as of March 17th 1:32 pm Illustration: flightradar24.com

By Lasse Skou Andersen & Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen.

A merging of national airspaces was supposed to cut CO2 emissions and reduce costs of European aviation, but so far EU countries have failed to deliver. The European Comission is now on the course of taking legal action against member states.

The EU Commission is threatening to bring member and partner states to the European Court of Justice for failing to live up to their promises of creating the foundations for greener and more efficient aviation through a directive called the Single European Sky.

A source in the commission confirms that opening letters have been sent to 23 member states and 4 partner states.

They have until the end of March to explain why they have failed to implement the directive before the deadline.

Today, because of countries each having their own sovereign airspaces, planes in Europe take detours rather than the most direct route. According to reports from EUROCONTROL, the EU body for aviation, this means CO2 emissions from the sector are 7-12% higher than they could be, were the planes able to go directly.

The Single Sky directive aims to fix this by merging the national airspaces into nine so-called Functional Airspace Blocs. The deadline for the creation of these blocs was in December 2012, but only two have been established.
READ MORE: Air traffic controllers impede common EU airspace

READ MORE: EU countries procrastinate on greener aviation

EU countries procrastinate on greener aviation

By Lasse Skou Andersen & Anders Godtfred-Rasmussen.

A lack of coordination between national airspaces means planes can’t take the direct route to their destinations, in turn leading to unnecessary emissions of CO2. Airlines and environmental organisations are furious that the EU has not yet delivered on its promise to solve the problem

The SK536 flies from Dublin to Stockholm and back several times a week. A common European airspace could shorten the distance it has to travel Illustration: flightradar24.com
The SK536 flies from Dublin to Stockholm and back several times a week. A common European airspace could shorten the distance it has to travel Illustration: flightradar24.com

It is 9:20 on a March morning in Dublin and SK536, a Scandinavian Airlines Boeing 737, is about to take off on its usual route to Arlanda airport in Stockholm.

But the plane doesn’t go directly to the Swedish capital. Due to a lack of coordination between the Norwegian and Swedish airspaces, the pilot must take a detour over Oslo.

The SK536 is not the only plane taking a detour this morning. According to estimates from the European Commission, the lack of co-ordination between national airspaces means that European planes take a detour of 49 kilometres per trip in average. And with 33,000 flights on a busy day, a significant amount of fuel and time is wasted, meaning extra costs for Airline companies and unnecessary emissions of CO2 greenhouse gasses.

Reports from EUROCONTROL, the EU body dealing with aviation, show that 7-12% of emissions from aviation in Europe are caused by such detours and delays. In total, aviation accounts for 13% of CO2 emissions from the transport sector.

“The reasons for the detours are several and very technical. But one of them is that some air spaces are more expensive to fly in than others in terms of tariffs. This means that it can actually be cheaper for airlines to choose a longer route, silly as that may sound,” explains Niels Remmer, Head of Department at the Danish Transport Authority, who has been working with the topic for more than ten years.

VIDEO: Niels Remmer explains in-depth why planes zig-zag through Europe

Solution there – but not implemented

The problem with the detours was actually supposed to be solved by now. Back in 2004, the EU, Norway, and Switzerland agreed on defragmenting airspaces through a directive called the Single European Sky.

The move was supported by the Association of European Airlines, which believes it could save the industry 4 billion Euros per year in tariffs and fuel expenses.

A key element in the legislation is the establishment of 9 so-called Functional Airspace Blocs (FABs), which would replace the existing national airspaces. The idea was that fewer airspaces with more common standards would enable the planes to take more optimal routes.

The deadline for getting the FABs up and running was in December 2012. But only two blocs – Denmark-Sweden and The United Kingdom-Ireland – have actually been established.

Some countries – for instance Germany – are having second thoughts. While they acknowledge the possibility of cutting emissions, they feel other parts of the directive are going too far. This is especially the case when it comes to how much more cost-efficient the air traffic controllers should operate.

Industry and environmentalists united

The delay of the Single Sky angers environmental organisation Greenpeace.

“Aviation is overall a relatively small emitter compared to other industries, but that is no excuse for procrastination. There is no reason flights should be longer than absolutely necessary,” says Tarjei Haaland, Greenpeace Nordic’s spokesperson on climate.

The airlines agree. They don’t think member states are doing enough to implement the directive, and say the commission isn’t pushing hard enough.

“We believe that the inefficiencies originate equally from the lack of enforcement from the European Commission and the lack of cooperation among the Member States,” says spokesperson for the Association of European Airlines, Viktoria Vajnai.

‘A low-hanging fruit’

The commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard, doesn’t agree that the commission isn’t doing enough. It is up to the member states to live up to their promises, she says.

“When it comes to doing something to help the climate, this is one of the lowest hanging fruits. The member states must deliver. We won’t lower the emission targets,” she says.

Sources in the commission say that transport commissioner Siim Kallas has made it one of his top priorities to enforce the Single Sky directive.

In January, opening letters were sent to the countries that do not yet fulfill their obligations. The states now have until the end of March to explain to the commission why they haven’t established their FABs yet.

This marks the initiation of a process where member states that continue to ignore the directive could eventually be brought to the European Court of Justice.

READ MORE: EU Countries could face trials over aviation

READ MORE: Air traffic controllers impede common EU airspace

Fact box:

CO2 emissions from aviation account for about 3% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

By 2020, global international aviation emissions are projected to be around 70% higher than in 2005 – even if fuel efficiency improves by 2% per year.

Sources: EEA, ICAO

EU needs more diverse company boards

By: Lisa Coxon and Cleo Tse.

Although studies suggested that more women on company boards can bring about better economic profit, EU still has not given a green light for the directive. On one hand, quotas are considered a “necessary evil”; on the other hand, they are said to infringe upon the freedom to run a business. Member states have uncompromised attitudes and the opinion is not unified. Only 24 companies have pledged to get 40% women on board by 2020 but if the directive becomes law, about 5,000 companies will be affected. Apart from political divergence, there are also ideological difficulties to be tackled.

To find out more, please click here.