Photo : Feedbackglobal
21 September 2022, Wednesday | NIAS Europe Daily Brief #312
EM Daily Focus
By Padmashree Anandhan
Environmental organization Feedback reports on EU’s food waste: Three takeaways
On 20 September, environmental organization Feedback EU released a report on how the EU’s food waste exceeds its imports thereby affecting the EU food security. It found that EU which had imported 138 million tonnes of agricultural products, close to 153.5 million tonnes of food were wasted every year. To address the issue, the European Environmental Bureau which comprises 43 organizations, in 20 EU countries issued a statement urging the EU and European Commission to adopt a legal framework regulating the member states to cut down the food waste. It said: “We, the undersigned, support the below proposals, introduce legally binding targets for EU member states to collectively achieve a 50% reduction in EU food loss and waste by 2030, these legally binding targets should require 50% reduction in all food loss and waste from farm to fork, and launch a review of expanding the scope of food waste measurement.”
First, agriculture waste is a major contributor. The report has divided the actors in the food waste into five groups. One, primary production which includes the harvest waste, and post-harvest waste from the farming process, storage, transport, disease, and poor harvesting methods. The food waste from this segment was found to be the highest of all with close to 90 million tonnes from the EU farms mostly found in low-income countries than high-income countries as per the WWF-UK report 2021. Two, food waste from households marked the second highest with 32.5 million tonnes. Three, processing which involves manufacturing, transport, distribution, and packaging accounted for 15.4 million tonnes of food waste as per the Fusion 2016 report (no recent data available). Four, food services like restaurants, hotels, canteens and caterers had wasted 10.5 million tonnes of food, whereas the last group wholesale and retail, which involves food waste from supermarkets, distribution were 5.3 million tonnes as per the UNEP 2021 report. The major reasons for huge amounts of agricultural waste were a cosmetic rejection of buyers. Cosmetic conditions mean the delivery of food produced in the exact demanded size, shape and colour, but under uncontrollable weather and pest situations, farmers have no option. Such condition narrows when the price fluctuates making it more difficult for farmers to prevent wastage.
Second, slow approach towards the food waste management framework. The report found the derail in the EU setting up a legal framework to reduce food waste. Efforts began in 2010 to set specific targets to bring down food waste by the European Commission. In 2012, the European Parliament asked the Commission to take measures to half-down the waste by 2025, upon which the Commission proposed “Circular Economy Package in 2014,” but withdrew the plan since it felt it to be ambitious. After several negotiations between the European Council, Commission, and Parliament, a poor set of waste reduction targets were set at attaining a 30 per cent cut by 2025 and a 50 per cent cut by 2030. The recent initiative was in 2018 when the European Commission decided to make changes to its “Waste Framework Directive (WFD)” enforcing its member states to measure and report on waste quantity from 2020. But all the plans led to slowed down the setting of targets for years.
Third, interlinked impact on climate and gender. EU which is at its peak summers and heatwaves, reducing the contributing factors to climate change is critical. With keeping climate effect in mind, food waste forms six per cent of the total emissions. Europe’s Green Deal does target to regulate the food system to be more environmentally friendly and healthy, but the economic effect is more drastic. The report finds that eastern and northern Europe economies were most affected due to climate change. With the risk of climate change, women are most affected without access to resources, especially from marginalised communities and low-income countries. Therefore, to beat the GHG emissions, achieve SDG goals (12.3) and invent nature-based solutions, food wastage control measures or important than ever for Europe.
“No time to waste,” Feedbackglobal, 20 September 2022
“EU wastes more food than it imports, says new report,” EEB, 20 September 2022
“Statement on EU legally binding targets to reduce food waste ,” EEB, 20 September 2022
By Padmashree Anandhan
Estonia's defence budget to exceed 2.7 per cent of its GDP says Defence Minister
On 21 September, ERR reported on the remarks on Gross Domestic Product, Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur on defence spending. In his recent interview, Pevkur said that Estonia’s defence spending which was at 2.7 or 2.8 per cent was expected to increase. He said that there was no immediate need for anti-ballistic missiles, but in the future Estonia will improve its air defence with anti-ballistic missile capability. (“Minister: Defense spending to rise to at least 2.7 percent of GDP in 2023,” ERR, 21 September 2022)
Macron and Truss met to discuss areas of cooperation during the UNGA77 meet
On 20 September, French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Liz Truss met during the UNGA77 to discuss their bilateral relations. The equation has been strained for the past few years due to UK’s AUKUS deal with Australia, a clash over fishing, sausages and migrant channel. But both the leader discussed on Ukraine war, and France’s proposal to build European Political Community, where non-EU member can express their common ideas and energy cooperation. The “European Political Community” is a French idea to form a group to discuss “security, energy, and transport,” to build relations post-Brexit between the UK and other European countries. (“France and UK should 'reengage,' Macron says after Truss talks,” Deutsche Welle, 20 September 2022; Jessica Parker, “UK considers joining new European nations club,” BBC, 20 September 2022)
ECJ rules Germany’s internet and phone service providers to stop retaining customer data
On 20 September, the ECJ judged stating Germany was not abiding the data retention rule of the EU. It ruled that Germany’s internet and service providers were barred from storing customer information without reason and it can only save the info only under “severe threat to national security.” German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann welcomed the rule and said that it would help it to bring new regulations to remove the “unjustified data retention” from Germany's Telecommunications Act, which mandated the service providers to store customer data. (“German data retention rules not compatible with EU law, says top court,” Deutsche Welle, 20 September 2022)
European Council and Australia adopt a framework to boost political, security and economic partnership
On 20 September, the European Council adopted a decision on concluding a framework agreement between the EU member states and Australia. The framework aims to boost the partnership between both in terms of democratic principles, human rights, rule of law, and international security and engage in matters relating to security policy, climate change, and trade. This is mainly targeted to establish links between governments, leaders, businesses, and civil society. (“EU-Australia: Council adopts decision for the conclusion of a framework agreement,” consilium.europa.eu, 20 September 2022)
War in Ukraine: Day 208
By Rishma Banerjee
War on the ground
On 19 September, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met the Staff of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief to discuss the developments along the front lines. According to the Chief, the armed forces in the Kharkiv region were stabilizing by holding on to their positions. He appreciated the efforts of the National Police and the Secret Service of Ukraine for their effective work in the Kharkiv region. Zelenskyy also mentioned that the pace of the counteroffensive launched by Ukraine was important to be maintained in the de-occupied land, and in the movement of Ukraine’s troops.
On 20 September, at the Global Food Security Summit, Zelenskyy spoke about how Ukraine was familiar with the idea of “food security” has lost millions of people to Holodomors. He blamed Russia for blockading the ports of Ukraine and for preventing the establishment of new export logistics due to their continuous attacks. However, he highlighted the resumption of agricultural exports and ensured its continuity with the UN World Food Program, especially for Somalia and Ethiopia.
Also on 20 September, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformations, Mykhailo Fedorov said that Ukraine’s IT Army obtained information about Russia’s Wagner Private Military Company. It alleged that the group had persuaded prisoners in Russia-occupied Ukraine to sign a military contract to fight against Ukraine. Fedorov remarked that they have access to all personal data of the mercenaries and that every executioner, murderer, and rapist will be severely punished.
In an interview with POLITICO, the Deputy Head of the President's Office, Andriy Smyrnov reiterated the need for an independent war crimes tribunal, given the killings in Izyum. Smyrnov suggested that the trials should be modelled after the Nuremberg trials, instead of being conducted by the ICC, as it risks being influenced and controlled by Russia. The Czech Republic, holding the EU presidency backed the idea, along with the EU's Foreign Policy Chief, Joseph Borrell. However, the US, the UK and the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen expressed their support to the ICC to coordinate the trials.
The Moscow View
Claims by Russia
On 19 September, Interfax reported on Russia’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov remarks, where he said that a negotiated peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine was not possible. He said: “…at the moment, such a prospect cannot be observed.” Russia blamed Ukraine for the suspension of negotiations since April when Ukraine alleged that Russia had committed war crimes and stopped adhering to the peace agreement drafted by the two countries in March.
On 20 September, Russia’s State Duma unanimously passed legislation that will serve jail terms of up to 15 years for military surrender. As per the bill, desertion during mobilization, war or under martial law will be punishable by up to 10 years, voluntary surrender, looting by up to 15 years, and refusing military service can also be jailed. The bill will be placed in the Federation Council on 21 September and is expected to pass before President Putin signs it into law.
On 19 September, Secretary of Russia's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev spoke at the 17th China-Russia strategic security consultation. Held in Fujian province in China, the event was co-hosted by Patrushev and a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist party's Central Committee, Yang Jiechi. The meeting discussed future potential areas of strategic cooperation on deepening of trust and establishing a more stable environment for mutual development.
On the same day, RIA Novosti, cited Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov’s comments regarding the referendums in the LPR and DPR. He said: “From the very beginning… we said that the peoples should decide their fate. And the whole current situation confirms that they want to be masters of their own destiny,” The comments follow the appeals by the heads of the public chambers of the republics, Leonid Pasechnik and Denis Pushilin to start the referendum processes. The LPR Ambassador to Russia, Rodion Miroshnik said that while conducting the votes under wartime conditions was difficult, it was not impossible. He said that the people of LPR have shown “a clear manifested desire” to initiate the procedure of joining Russia. The voting is expected to be from 23 to 27 September. In the same context, the Deputy Head of the Kherson Region’s military-civilian administration, Kirill Stremousov spoke to TASS and said that the people of Kherson are also prepared to ensure Russia’s presence in the region forever. He said: They are ready to go to vote in a referendum, provided there are security guarantees and Russia will stay here forever.”
The West View
Responses from the US and Europe
On 20 September, Germany and Slovenia signed a deal where Slovenia will send 28 soviet-era tanks to Ukraine in exchange for 40 military trucks from Germany.
On 20 September, Germany's Economy Minister said that despite the lack of Russian gas and the impending energy crisis, Germany would meet its 95 per cent storage target by November. According to data by the Aggregated Gas Storage Inventory (AGSI), Germany's gas storage facilities are already 90 per cent full. Habeck said that if the weather is favourable, Germany would be able to get through the winter comfortably. However, he also warned that the gas reserves will be "really empty" after the winter as all the stored gas will be used up.
On 20 September, the UN General Assembly meeting marks the first international engagement of Liz Truss as the prime minister of the UK. Her office reported that for 2023, she would pledge to exceed the USD 2.6 billion of military aid sent to Ukraine in 2022. On the same day, in an interview with BBC, Truss mentioned that the UK would also contribute to Europe’s energy independence saying: “We cannot see Russia succeed, but we also make need to make sure we're more energy independent, and we're less dependent on those authoritarian regimes.”
On 20 September, the UK Defence Ministry in its intelligence update reported about Russia’s Black Sea Fleet being relocated. The report said that due to the increased long-range strike capacity of Ukraine and their counteroffensive, the command of the Black Sea Fleet has been shifted from Sevastopol in Crimea to Novorossiysk in Krasnodar Krai, southern Russia.
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting, Erdogan spoke to PBS NewsHour and said that Putin must return all the territory in Crimea, under Russia’s control to its “rightful owners.” He referred to the Crimean Tatars as rightful descendants of Turkey, when it was under a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire. Erdogan said that he has maintained this stance since 2014, but no step has since been taken in that regard. Referring to his meeting with Putin in Uzbekistan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Erdogan said that Putin gave him the impression that Russia was “willing to end this as soon as possible,” as the on-ground developments have not been in Russia’s favour. He also mentioned that 200 hostages will be exchanged between Russia and Ukraine soon.
The Global Fallouts
Implications of the Ukraine war
On 20 September, the yearly meeting at the UN General Assembly began and it focussed on the various crises the world is facing. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “We are grid locked in colossal global dysfunction… our world is in peril — and paralyzed.” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was the central theme for many speakers, especially the food security and fertilizer crisis that it has catalysed and the attacks on the nuclear power plants in Ukraine.
On the same day, Myanmar’s junta spokesperson said that Myanmar was discussing the use of a Mir card for payments with Russia. The system will make the direct exchange of ruble and kyat currencies easier. He also mentioned that once the central banks of the two states signed the pact, bilateral economic cooperation is also expected to "grow sharply." The Head of the Military government, Min Aung Hlaing mentioned they were also considering replacing of the dollar with other currencies like the yuan, rupee, and ruble.
“The pace of providing aid to Ukraine by partners should correspond to the pace of our movement - address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy,” president.gov.ua, 19 September 2022
“The state that provokes famine should get the toughest reaction from the world - President's speech at the Global Food Security Summit,” president.gov.ua, 21 September 2022
“Ukrainian IT-Army hacks website of Wagner Group – Fedorov,” Ukrinform, 20 September 2022
“Russia relocates submarines from Crimea due to threat of Ukrainian strikes - British intelligence,” Ukrinform, 20 September 2022
Suzanne Lynch, “Ukraine at UN: We need a Nuremberg-style war crimes trial,” POLITICO, 20 September 2022
“Peaceful solution to Ukraine crisis currently not possible – Russia,” RT, 20 September 2022
“Russian Lawmakers Approve Long Jail Terms for Military Surrender, Refusal to Serve,” The Moscow Times, 20 September 2022
“Lavrov announced the desire of the inhabitants of Donbass to be "masters of their own destiny",” LENTA.RU, 20 September 2022
“Holding referendum amid hostilities is difficult, yet possible — LPR ambassador to Russia,” TASS, 20 September 2022
“Kherson Region’s people ready for referendum to join Russia forever — authorities,” TASS, 19 September 2022
“German gas storage 90% full ahead of winter despite Russian cuts,” Deutsche Welle, 20 September 2022
Toby Melville, “On first international trip, UK's Truss pledges Ukraine support,” Reuters, 21 September 2022
“Erdoğan to Putin: Return Crimea to ‘rightful owners’,” POLITICO, 20 September 2022
“Turkey's Erdogan: Russia's Putin willing to end war,” BBC, 20 September 2022
“Our world is in peril’: At UN, leaders push for solutions,” AP News, 20 September 2022
“Myanmar discussing with Russia use of Mir card for payments,” Channel News Asia, 20 September 2022
Khine Lin Kyaw, “Myanmar to Lower Dollar Reliance in Favor of Ruble, Yuan,” Bloomberg, 20 September 2022
“Russia always regards ties with China as diplomatic priority: Russian envoy at bilateral strategic security consultation,” Global Times, 20 September 2022