... in EU-policy

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)

I have just finished uploading my pictures from last weeks trip to lebanon to my flickr account. Among them are five or so that show massive energy saving light-bulbs (or CFLs as they are officially known) used for outdoor lighting of shops and a gas station.

This is a trend that i had already noticed last December in China (not sure if in India): Energy efficient CFLs seem to be all over the place in areas like the Pearl River Delta with it’s rapidly growing energy consumption or Lebanon, whose power generating capacities have been severely reduced in the 2006 war (If you look closely at my pictures from Lebanon you will see that all but one light bulb are of the CFL type).

This is in stark contrast with the situation in Europe where these types of light-bulbs still seem to occupy a niche position. Now most likely this is due to the fact that we do not have the same energy constraints (yet) and can thus afford to happily wast our electricity, but a little bit of googling reveals that the fact that you do not see many CFLs around here (i do not have a single one in my house) is probably due to an altogether different reason:

Since 1998, China has become the world’s largest producer and exporter of the energy-saving lamps, changing the structure of a global market that was once monopolized by European and American companies such as Philips, GE, and Siemens-Osram. Chinese manufacturers supplied close to 1 billion CFLs worldwide in 2004. […] In the face of intense international competition, the low price of the Chinese-made bulbs has been the leading factor behind this growth.

[…] The European Commission imposed the five-year CFL duty in 2001 after the European Lighting Companies Federation, a trade group for European producers, claimed that China was flooding the market with cheap bulbs. The anti-dumping tariff was a huge blow to Chinese CFL manufacturers, who were dependent on exports for a large share of their market. Half the country’s CFL enterprises went bankrupt within the year, reducing the number of domestic producers from 4,000 to 2,000 in 2001, then to some 1,400 in 2002. To stay afloat, Chinese manufacturers shifted their attention to Asia and the Americas, regions that have imported more than 70 percent of China’s energy-saving bulbs in recent years. [source: worldwatch.org: China Pushes for Even Greater Share of World CFL Market]

So the real reason for not seeing lots of CFLs in Europe lies in the fact that the EU Commission decided to apply import duties on cheap CFLs from the PRC so that companies like Phillips, GE and Siemens can continue to make a little profit while we are happily wasting electricity. Makes me wonder about the European Commission’s sense of urgency even more than i did last week

Freedom of movement (looking back on my thesis)

09 Feb 2006 | 543 words | EU-policy migration europe labor

It is almost four years ago that i finally finished my thesis (‘The freedom of movement of workers in the context of the Eastern enlargement of the European Union’ – download the pdf here) and concluded my studies in comparative political science at the University of Amsterdam. After finishing the thesis and getting my diploma a quickly turned my attention to other projects and never really looked back at what i had written. however given the fact that in my thesis i set out to draw up…

… a clear picture of what can be expected in terms of intra-EU migration when the European Union of 15 is enlarged towards the East and Southeast. The aim of this paper is not to make a prediction about the exact amounts of migrants that are to be expected in a given constellation of events, but to give a theoretically funded assessment of the possible impacts of a change in political structure on migration from the Eastern European Candidate Countries (EECC) to the European Union of 15 (EU15) as it exists today….

… it would have been natural to look back on a couple of occasions to see if my ‘theoretically funded (sic!) assessment’ (which of course is bloated language for ‘my interpretation of the current situation beefed up with as many graphs, pie-charts and quotes as i can come up with’) did indeed turn out to be true. until today i have never really done this for whatever reasons.

Now today the European Commission published a report on the effects of workers mobility between the 10 new member states and the EU15 since the Eastern Enlargement on the 1st of may 2004 (FAQs here). The accession treaty required the Commission to come up with such a report in order to give the member states which opted to impose restrictions on the freedom of movement of workers from the EU10 (that is all old member except britain, sweden & ireland) an empirical basis for the reassessment of their position after 2 years (due on 30 april). now i have not had time to read the full report but if one can believe the media it pretty much confirms the concluding predictions of my thesis:

according to various news reports published today, the report that claims that ‘There was no evidence of a surge in either numbers of workers or welfare expenditure following enlargement, compared to the previous two years. New Member State (EU10) nationals represented less than 1% of the working age population in all countries except Austria (1,4% in 2005) and Ireland (3,8% in 2005)’ (EU comission) it further notes ‘… that East European workers sought out employment and did not abuse social security payments when they moved to Western countries’. (IHT) and that ‘…the barriers put in place when the EU had 12 members did not stop workers moving into these countries. But many workers had disappeared into the underground economy’ (idem.)

Anyway it is nice to know that I have not completely missed the mark while spending so much time on writing my thesis. I will try to re-read my paper and compare it to the report over the weekend and if there are more interesting findings I will report them back here…

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: