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Secrecy surrounding EU expert groups must end
Belgium Created: 19 Feb 2015
The EU’s Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has this week criticised the secrecy that still surrounds the powerful experts groups called upon to help the European Commission draft EU legislation.

In a statement issued Friday, she demanded greater transparency from the secretive European Commission expert groups and criticised the EU for not opening them up to greater public scrutiny.

She stated:

“There is room for improvement if we want to be sure that the public can trust and scrutinise the work of these important groups,”

She has also called on anyone who wants to join an expert group to be signed up to the transparency register and called into question the practise whereby organisations appear in expert groups under different names.

In a letter to EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, she wrote:

“The fact that the same organisation may be labelled differently in different expert groups is difficult to comprehend,”

Expert Groups are created on an ad hoc basis to help in the preparation of the EU’s legislative proposals and policy initiatives, the preparation of its delegated acts and the implementation of existing EU legislation, programmes and policies.

While those responsibilities may seem innocuous to someone unfamiliar with EU policy-making, the expert groups are regarded as highly influential in shaping EU legislation in its early stages. Companies spend millions of euros lobbying Brussels’ institutions and having direct access to an expert group is seen as one of the best ways of shaping legislation. Better still is the possibility that companies can, controversially, have one of their representatives appointed to the expert groups.

Such obvious conflicts of interest have not gone unnoticed. Expert groups have been a controversial aspect of EU law-making since the Commission first gained the powers to propose legislation.

In a 2014 report, Pro-transparency group Corporate Europe Observatory revealed big companies had scientists issuing opinions in expert groups on toxic chemicals they themselves manufactured. The problem was also highlighted in an expert group on tax where some of the ‘independent’ panelists were working for accountancy firms Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PwC.

While the Commission pleads, in its defence, that it tries to make the groups as balanced “as far as possible”, O’Reilly has called on the balance to be mandatory and legally binding – a position that the AECR strongly.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: AECR, via email from Iris Atzmon, 18 Feb 2015

EESC EHS opinion loses by narrow vote to industry interests
Belgium Created: 21 Jan 2015
Dear all, today is a black day for human rights and especially for sufferers of the effects of electromagnetic fields.

The industry-friendly counter-opinion of Sir Richard Adams won by 136 votes to 110 (19 abstained) at the EESC plenary meeting.

The good news is that many groups and individuals from all around Europe came together to fight the industry influence and we have succeeded in winning 110 supporters within the EESC. Remember that.

The English interpretation audio of the 1-hour debate and vote is archived here:
https://soundcloud.com/mastvictims/eesc-ten559-plenary-ehs-opinion-discussion-and-vote
Listen online or download the audio file.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Mast-Victims, H.Eiriksson, 12 Jan 2015

Final version of Richard Adams counter-opinion on EHS published
Belgium Created: 20 Jan 2015
Dear all, Sir Richard Adams has finally made his counter-opinion to the EESC opinion on EHS publicly available.
Download the document via the source link below.

This document is more elaborate than the previous version and is signed by a group of EESC members, most of them entrepreneurs (see below).

The orientation of the document has changed slightly: he recognizes that their EHS symptoms are real, but does not recognize their association with the EMF.

List of the 18 signatories:

Richard Adams

Bernd Dittmann (The German Business Representation)

Lubomir Hadjiysky (Director of marketing and development at auditors Grant Thornton. Bulgaria)

Tom Jones (Vice-president of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) - farmer - Trustee Community Foundation in Wales. UK)

Brenda King (Chief Executive, African & Caribbean Diversity. UK)

Anders Ladefoged (Danish Industry)

Jonathan Peel (Business and Trade Consultant. UK)

Virgilio Ranocchiari (Consultant European Affairs - Italian Confederation of Industry - Confindustria)

Pirkko Raunemaa (Council of Home Economics and Consumer Associations, expert on consumers and food issues. Finland)

David Sears (Former Deputy Director-General, British Chambers of Commerce – BCC. UK)

Ulla Sirkeinen (Confederation of Finnish Industries –EK. Finland)

Jan Simons (VNO-NCW, "Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers"

Georgi Stoev (Vice-chairman of the Bureau of the Committee on Trade at the Economic Council for Europe at the United Nations
Organization -UNO/ECE-Geneva and vice-president of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Bulgaria)

Pavel Trantina (Representative, Czech Council of Children and Youth –ČRDM. Czech Republic)

Akos Topolanszky (Director of the Federation of Hungarian Drugtherapeutic Institutes (MADRISZ); National Institute for Drug Prevention. Hungary)

Gerd Wolf (Representative of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres - HGF)

Reet Teder (business leader and Estonian)

Josef Zboril (Executive secretary, Governing board of the Slovenian Association of Free Trade Unions. Czech Republic)
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Mast-Victims, H.Eiriksson, 20 Jan 2015

This is what the EESC debate is all about
Belgium Created: 19 Jan 2015
The European Economic and Social Committee is on the way with an opinion statement on electro-hypersensitivity, otherwise known as microwave-sickness and EHS and we've been publishing news about the process over the last couple of days.
To aid understanding of what's happening, this post brings together the discussion:

First, see the latest draft opinion (published 13 jan.) from EESC that will be voted on 21-22 jan.:
https://toad.eesc.europa.eu/AgendaDocuments.aspx?pmi=RmFYXXWy9u%2fUB7Xqmm4jW6lyKtAxaIqd8V%2f0yS2nhXg%3d
(see under section: TEN/559, sub-heading: "Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (own-initiative opinion) - Section opinion - EESC-2014-05117-00-02-AS-TRA" and select your language.

A dutch businessman and EESC group member, Mr. Jan Simons, put forward industry-friendly amendments to the draft. Those amendments were largely dropped by vote. Download Simons amendment suggestions here.

Reet Teder, business leader and Estonian member of the EESC, has already submitted several amendments against the points 1.2, 1.5, 2.8, 8.1.1 & 8.2.3 of the own initiative opinion approved by the EESC TEN section. Removes the most important elements of each of these points emptying it of its content.
See entries beginning with "AMPX_§ X.X_Teder_Electromagnetic hypersensitivity..." under TEN/559 secion at the link below:
https://toad.eesc.europa.eu/AgendaDocuments.aspx?pmi=RmFYXXWy9u%2fUB7Xqmm4jW6lyKtAxaIqd8V%2f0yS2nhXg%3d

We learned that EESC member Sir Richard Adams suddenly began distributing an industry friendly counter-opinion text to a group of like-minded members within the EESC. Adams' version removes all support for EHS and goes against regulation of EMF.
Download Adams counter-opinion here which was kindly provided by our Spanish friends Electrosensibles por el Derecho a la Salud.
Sir Adams' version of the text has not yet been made publicly available so we reckon that he'll try and push it into vote at the plenary session. Such behaviour is highly disrespectful of the democratic process of the EESC and according to one EESC member that Mast-Victims spoke to, it is a desperate last-measure that will be regarded as an extreme provocation and a waste of time.

Following is the MV news coverage so far:

Jan 2015, United Kingdom: Final letter to Mr. Adams BY Director Eileen O`Connor Radiation Research UK.
Jan 2015, United Kingdom: Mast-Victims comments on Sir Richard Adams EESC / EHS counter-opinion
Jan 2015, USA: BioInitiative Group letter to EESC on electro-hypersensitivity
Jan 2015, United Kingdom: Open letter to European Economic and Social Committee TEN Section on electrosensitivity
Jan 2015, United Kingdom: EESC calling for action on behalf of EHS sufferers
Nov 2014, Belgium: Recordings from the EESC hearing on EHS
Nov 2014, Belgium: Europe starts to take EHS / ES seriously
Oct 2014, Belgium: Registration deadline is 29 oct. for EU open hearing on EHS
Oct 2014, Belgium: Public hearing on Electromagnetic hypersensitivity at the European Economic and Social Committee
Source: Mast-Victims.org, H. Eiriksson & A. Ingvarsdóttir, 19 Jan 2015

Recordings from the EESC hearing on EHS
Belgium Created: 16 Nov 2014
Dear all, here are the recordings from the European Economic and Social Committee open hearing on electrohypersensitivity in Brussels 04 November 2014.

Mast-Victims.org brought a audio-recorder to the hearing.

Go here for a complete playlist of the 11 recordings in sequence:
https://soundcloud.com/mastvictims/sets/eesc-hearing-on-electrohypersensitivity

To play a track: hover the mouse over the track-thumbnail and click the orange "play" arrow.

To download a track as MP3 file: hover the mouse over the track-title and click the download icon (last one on right).

Notes:
Some speakers did not speak English and on those recordings the English interpretation is overlaid.
On track #3 the interpreter comes in at approx. 3½ minutes (apologies for the delay, due to technical difficulties).
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Mast-Victims.org, H.Eiriksson, 16 Nov 2014

Europe starts to take EHS / ES seriously
Belgium Created: 15 Nov 2014
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has held a public hearing on electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS/ES) on 4th November 2014, attended by about 50 people, followed by a working group meeting in the afternoon to decide on how best to move forward on the EHS issue. The idea of the hearing was apparently their own, submitted by Bernardo Hernández Bataller. The group think the European Commission should pay more attention to this issue.

Who are the EESC?
It is an EU advisory body acting as a bridge between Europe and organized civil society. "The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission shall be assisted by an Economic and Social Committee and a Committee of the Regions acting in an advisory capacity." (Treaty on European Union, Article 13.4). It is an assembly of 353 members representing civil society from the 28 Member States of the EU. Members are appointed for a renewable five-year term by the Council of Ministers on the basis of lists drawn up by the national governments. It sends its opinions to the EU Parliament, the EC and Consilium.

What they are saying so far:
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is causing distress and loss of quality of life to a growing number of Europeans. The most common sources of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) pollution are mobile phone masts, cordless phones and Wi-Fi routers installed in the homes. All these emit microwaves permanently (24/7) in the places where they are installed.

Each day the number of EHS sufferers increases, and they often have to deal with the scepticism of doctors and misdiagnoses. According to new estimates, between 3% and 5% of the population are electro-sensitive, meaning that some 13 million Europeans may suffer from this syndrome, which has various names (electro-sensitivity, Wi-Fi syndrome, microwave syndrome, electromagnetic hypersensitivity, etc.).

Ever since the adoption of its opinion on the EU GSM Directive (TEN/308) in 2008, the EESC has been concerned with the ongoing protection of the public against electromagnetic radiation from electronic communications, such as internet usage, and other household equipment that forms part of the information society.

As part of the opinion work, local authorities, transport services, as well as cultural, sports and leisure centres will be consulted on their practices to install wireless internet connections. In recent technological developments, WiMAX environments (similar to Wi-Fi but longer-range), have started to emit constant electromagnetic pollution. The opinion might also advocate enhanced efforts at EU, Member State, regional and local level to identify, minimise and prevent exposure both at home and in the workplace, allowing citizens to live in places free from electromagnetic pollution, so-called white areas. The EESC can act as trusted adviser towards these stakeholders.

What is the time-scale?
4-Nov-2014: Working Document
5-Dec-2014: Preliminary Draft Opinion
7-Jan-2015: Draft Opinion
21-22-Jan-2015: Plenary Opinion

Powerwatch Comments: We are pleased at this initiative to take EHS issues seriously across the EU. Powerwatch and other EMF and EHS organisations were taken by surprise, hearing about this meeting only 9 days before it happened. That led to a large number of emails, Skype and telephone calls to find out who had the time (etc) to attend and present information to the hearing. Somehow the organisation had failed to invite any of the many EHS/ES groups across Europe. We believe this was a genuine administration error rather than an effort to keep us away!

Short presentations, by the following people, were made on why the EU should deal with EHS, and the best approach to use.

Susana Galera Rodrigo, Professor of Administrative Law, King Juan Carlos University Madrid
Isaac Jamieson, Member of the group of stakeholders on electromagnetic fields for DG SANCO
Olle Johansson, Professor of Neuroscience, The Experimental Dermatology Unit, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm
Marc Cendrier, Robin des Toits (Association Nationale pour la Securité Sanitaire dans les Technologies sans fil), France
Inés Ayala Sender, Member of the European Parliament

The presentations were followed by a debate with the audience and the rapporteur's notes taken to the afternoon meeting of the EESC study group on electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

Isaac Jamieson gave a very informative presentation which showed that that whilst many studies indicate impacts as a result of exposure, there were others that showed no impact or were neutral/inconclusive. This included the results of the review of 919 studies by Rahmani et al (2011) documenting the percentages of EMF studies that revealed either impact, no impact or were neutral/inconclusive. He also mentioned Cucurachi et al (2013) obtaining similar results in their review of 113 studies, with the majority revealing impacts as a result of exposure. He discussed the potential costs that may arise if individuals are detrimentally affected by EMFs and best practice measures that could be applied to reduce risk.

Olle Johansson concentrated on the difference between treating EHS as a functional impairment, as in Sweden, as opposed to as a disease, and he was really quite eloquent and made some good points, not really about EMFs as such but about societal attitudes to disability and equality - which is the angle the EESC is going for - i.e. to prevent social exclusion due to the almost universal electrosmog now present around us.

Marc Cendrier gave a good presentation and he also presented a formal statement on behalf of the EHS of Europe [2]. Electrosensibles Derecho Salud and UneTerrePourLesEHS had rushed to prepare this joint statement for submission to the EESC TEN study group on EHS by presentation at the meeting.

Many people there were asserting the "there is plenty enough evidence to conclude that EMFs cause EHS" position, but the debate felt less heated than is often the case. However, at the end two people from the mobile industry's MMF accused one pro-precaution speaker of misrepresentation but also ridiculously claimed that there is no point in reducing exposure because existing exposure levels are already 100% safe. One said that you can't apply the precautionary principle because there is already no risk, and you can't label equipment with emission values because they are all already "safe" and you can't have "safer than safe" (a direct quote). That, predictably and understandably, provoked some reaction from other people, but the meeting was running out of time by then so the argument didn't really develop.

So, for most of the time, the main issues in play were exploring appropriate measures to take, and doing so in a fairly constructive way, barring a few extremes. There was some arcane but probably quite important discussion about what the various articles of the various treaties allow the EU to do; broadly, the Commission or Commission-aligned voices were arguing that the responsibility lies with member states, but other people were saying there is more that the EU can do, for example using single-market rules to require common provisions for equipment, or requiring public consultation, and which it has done in other areas.

There seems some hope that the Committee might well come up with something reasonably balanced, in that they seem to be aware both of the amount of public concern and the seriousness of the issue for sufferers, and also of the need for proportionality and for a sense of the realistic; but one person's "proportionality" is another person's "disgraceful failure to take sufficient action" and another person's "throwing the science away on a tide of hysterical emotion", so we'll have to see what they actually say in their published Opinion which is due in January.

However, the European Commission will take quite a lot of persuading to take any new action unless their own processes (primarily SCENIHR) give them a justification or a push, which is unlikely. However, the current signs at the EESC are suggesting that their opinion will support a more precautionary stance to help EHS people from being excluded from being able to take part in modern public life.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Powerwatch, Alasdair Philips, 04 Nov 2014

Registration deadline is 29 oct. for EU open hearing on EHS
Belgium Created: 25 Oct 2014
Dear all, I receive from Beperk de Straling and I forward to you this important news:.

Hearing on EHS in Brussels: "Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is causing distress and loss of quality of life to a growing number of Europeans and according to new estimates, between 3 % and 5% of the population are electro-sensitive. The most common sources of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) pollution are mobile phone masts, cordless phones and Wi-Fi routers installed in the homes. All these emit microwaves permanently (24/7) in the places where they are installed.

This event will gather all relevant stakeholders from a broad range of European civil society for a debate on how to deal with this issue at EU level and to give input for the future EESC's opinion that is scheduled for adoption in January 2015.

http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.events-and-activities-electromagnetic-hypersensitivity

Deadline for registration: 29/10/2014

Which organisations/persons are coming to Brussels for this hearing?
It could be interesting to have an (informal) meeting afterwards so
that we can get to know each other and exchange some information?
Please let us know who would be interested in this!

Best regards,

Francesca Romana Orlando
Vice President of A.M.I.C.A.
Association for Chronic Toxic and Environmental Injury
Email: francescaromana.amica @ gmail.com
Website: www.infoamica.it


Related news:
Oct 2014, Belgium: Public hearing on Electromagnetic hypersensitivity at the European Economic and Social Committee
Click here to view the source article.
Source: A.M.I.C.A & Beperk de Straling, via email from Iris Atzmon, 25 oct 2014

Public hearing on Electromagnetic hypersensitivity at the European Economic and Social Committee
Belgium Created: 24 Oct 2014
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is causing distress and loss of quality of life to a growing number of Europeans and according to new estimates, between 3 % and 5% of the population are electro-sensitive. The most common sources of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) pollution are mobile phone masts, cordless phones and Wi-Fi routers installed in the homes. All these emit microwaves permanently (24/7) in the places where they are installed.

This event will gather all relevant stakeholders from a broad range of European civil society for a debate on how to deal with this issues at EU level and to give input for the future EESC's opinion that is scheduled for adoption in January 2015.

Public Hearing, 04 November 2014 - EESC, Room JDE52 - Rue Belliard 99., 1040 Brussels, Belgium
Click here to view the source article.
Source: European Economic and Social Committee, 24 Oct 2014

Effect of Short-Term GSM Radiation at Representative Levels in Society on a Biological Model: The Ant Myrmica sabuleti
Belgium Created: 10 Jul 2014
Abstract: Well-controlled electromagnetic exposure conditions were set up at a representative societal GSM radiation intensity level, 1,5 V/m, which is the legally allowed level in Brussels.

Two nests of the ant species Myrmica sabuleti were repeatedly irradiated during 10 min. before their behavior was observed, based on the analysis of the ant trajectories.

Under these exposure conditions, behavioral effects were detected.

The ants’ locomotion slightly changed. The ants’ orientation towards their attractive alarm pheromone statistically became of lower quality.

The ants still presented their trail following behavior but less efficiently. In this controversial issue, ants could be considered as possible bioindicators.

Related news:
Sep 2013, Sweden: Ants can be used as bio-indicators to reveal biological effects of electromagnetic waves from some wireless apparatus
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Springer.com, Cammaerts et al., 10 Jul 2014

Govt. phone data retention is against human-rights - top EU court rules
Belgium Created: 8 Apr 2014
(Reuters) - The European Union's highest court ruled on Tuesday that an EU directive requiring telecoms companies to store the communications data of EU citizens for up to two years was invalid.

"The Court of Justice declares the Data Retention Directive to be invalid," the court said in a statement.

The data-retention directive was introduced in March 2006 after bombings on public transport in Madrid and London. The aim was to give the authorities better tools to investigate and prosecute organized crime and terrorism.

It required telecoms service providers to keep traffic and location data as well as other information needed to identify the user, but not the content of the communication. The records were to be kept from six to 24 months.

Austrian and Irish courts asked the European Court of Justice to rule if the law was in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. The law also caused a public outcry in Germany.

"It entails a wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data, without that interference being limited to what is strictly necessary," the court said.

"The Court takes the view that, by requiring the retention of those data and by allowing the competent national authorities to access those data, the directive interferes in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data," it said.

"Furthermore, the fact that data are retained and subsequently used without the subscriber or registered user being informed is likely to generate in the persons concerned a feeling that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance," it said.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Reuters, Pawel Kopczynski, 08 Apr 2014

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