This page has some extra news articles and features in the Enlish language about events in Europe.  Other articles on European affairs and culture can also be seen on the art reviews, features, and news pages of this website.

The German Election Results 2021

by Jolyon Gumbrell published on 28th September 2021

The election results of the Bundestagswahl (Parliamentary Election) came not long after polling stations had closed in Germany on Sunday 26th September 2021.  They are quoted and translated here from the German news channel tagesschau:

Provisional Results of the German Parliamentary Election 2021
Party Percentage
Union (CDU/CSU conservatives) 24.1
SPD (Social Democrats) 25.7
AfD (Right wing nationalist party) 10.3
FDP (Liberals) 11.5
Linke (Left wing party) 4.9
Grüne (Greens) 14.8
Other parties 8.7

Although the SPD led by Olaf Scholz won the most votes of any party in the election with 25.7%, it did not win an overall majority to govern Germany on its own.  Therefore the SPD will have to work with other parties to form a coalition government.  Olaf Scholz said that the coalition should be between SPD FDP and Greens, but did not want the CDU/CSU to be part of it.  However, there are several possibilities of coalition that could form a government and it is still not clear in which policy direction Germany will move once all the different partners in the new government are forced to compromise.

During a television debate on Sunday evening shortly after the election results had been announced, Annalena Baerbock of the Greens said her party would not compromise over the fight against climate change.  If what is referred to as an Ampel-Koalition (Traffic light coalition) of SPD Greens and FDP - the name comes from the party colours of red for SPD, green for Greens, and yellow for FDP - then the areas of disagreement will be over fighting climate change and taxation.  While the Greens will want to push ahead with fighting climate change - they want 15 million electric cars on German roads by 2030, which will replace petrol and diesel engine vehicles - the FDP led by Christian Lindner want to reduce taxes and put a brake on national debt in Germany.  The FDP do not want any extra public spending to fight climate change, preferring a private enterprise approach to the problem.

Over the next few weeks there are other combinations of coalition that might emerge: Kenia-Koalition of the SPD, CDU/CSU, and Greens; Deutschland-Koalition of the SPD, CDU/CSU, and FDP; or a Jamaika-Koalition of the CDU/CSU, Greens, and the FDP.  Olaf Scholz said that a new government should be formed before Christmas, but unless the different parties can agree on policy direction in order to form a coalition that might not be possible.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2021

The German Election 2021

by Jolyon Gumbrell published on 21st September 2021

After 16 years in office Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel will stand down after the Bundestageswahl parliamentary elections in September 2021.  She will not be standing for re-election so depending upon the results of the election one of the following candidates is likely to replace her:

At the time of writing Olaf Scholz is the most likely candidate to succeed Merkel as Chancellor.  He is already serving in the German government as Vice-Chancellor and Finance Minister in the CDU-SPD coalition, and has gained ground in the election campaign because of a mistake made by his main opponent Armin Laschet shortly after the catastrophic floods in Germany which caused death and destruction in July 2021.  Laschet was seen on camera laughing and joking behind the Bundespräsident Frank Walter Steinmeier at the time of a visit to one of the flood affected areas.

However Scholz himself as Finance Minister has come under criticism recently over the failings of a special government department called the FIU (Fincial Intelligence Unit) to properly investigate and tackle money laundering.  On 9th September 2021 the police and the Osnabrück public prosector's office raided the offices of the finance ministry and the justice ministry in Berlin in order to carry out a search.  According to media reports: the Zoll (customs) which is responsible for running the FIU had not passed on important documents to the public prosecutor in relation to money laundering cases.  The FIU has been criticised for not being fit for purpose.

According to an opinion poll published by ARD-DeutschlandTrend on 16th September 2021, the Union (CDU/CSU) would have 22%, SPD 26%, AfD 11%, FDP 11%, Linke 6%, Grüne 15%, and FW 3% of the vote, which indicates that the Greens with 15% have had a setback since July.  Although many people in Germany recognize that global warming played its part in the flooding in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands in July as well as causing the wildfires in Southern Europe and North America, at the time of writing the Greens are still struggling to get support for their policies to fight climate change.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2021

An archive on Europe

The articles in this archive were originally written and published as a blog by Jolyon Gumbrell on the Ideas on Europe website from July 2012 to September 2020.  The Ideas on Europe platform was hosted by UACES which changed its site policy in 2021, so the author decided to transfer his articles to his own website.

Remember the CE mark

An opinion published on 28th September 2020 by Jolyon Gumbrell.

Photo of CE mark on plug taken by Jolyon Gumbrell. ©Jolyon Gumbrell 2020

The CE label that appears on many products shows that a product complies with EU health, safety and environmental standards. Although the United Kingdom left the EU on 31st January 2020 these standards still apply to products sold in the UK until the end of the transition period on 31st December 2020. After that date UK consumers will no longer be protected by European health, safety and environmental standards, unless these protections are written into a future trade agreement between the EU and the UK.

Why is this important? Because once the transition period for the UK ends at the end of 2020, items such as "active implantable medical devices" and "invito diagnostic medical devices" as well as other "medical devices" used by the NHS might be below standard, and thus endanger the lives of patients in the UK. This situation will be exasperated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Concern has already been shown over the accuracy of 90-minute rapid coronavirus tests procured by the UK Government. In an article by Sarah Boseley published in The Guardian on 8th August 2020 entitled: 'UK's rapid Covid-19 test not passed by regulator and no data on accuracy', it said: "The test, from Oxford Nanopore, a young biotech company spun off from Oxford University, has not yet gained a CE mark. Before Covid-19, Oxford Nanopore had been involved only in research, not tests for patients."

The article went on to mention another company DnaNudge that was granted an "emergency exemption by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency" from having to display the CE mark. According to the article DnaNudge was awarded a £3.2 million contract in April and a £161 million contract on 1st July from the government. If either of these - Oxford Nanopore and DnaNudge - testing systems were unreliable, then it could mean that some people would receive the wrong results for their Covid-19 tests.

What will happen to the people of the UK when they finally lose the protection of European law on 31st December 2020? One of the consequences of this will be the loss of the CE mark for consumer products sold in the UK, so the British public will no longer know how safe or reliable a product - such as an plug on an electrical device, a kettle, light bulb, laptop, mobile phone, or child's toy - is, that they are purchasing from a retailer or online supplier.

The CE mark does not mean that a product has been manufactured within the European Economic Area (EEA). An electrical device could have been made in China for example and still display a CE label, but when the product was imported into Europe it would have had the CE marking placed on it by the manufacturer's authorised representative in Europe. The product would have had to comply with European health, safety, and environmental standards before it could legally be distributed for sale to consumers living in the EEA area.

If high standards of protection are to be maintained for consumers living in the UK next year, then the UK will either have to stay in the EEA along with EU and EFTA member states or come to a bilateral relationship with the EU similar to that of Switzerland. Either way no trade deal will take place between the UK and EU unless the UK Government accepts these high standards as recognised with the CE mark.


Boseley, Sarah; (08.08.2020) 'UK's rapid Covid-19 test not passed by regulator and no data on accuracy' The Guardian.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2020

Could an English Parliament and a written constitution help relieve the pain of Covid-19 and Brexit?

An opinion published on 17th July 2020 by Jolyon Gumbrell

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have so far been successful in getting their message across, when it comes to fighting Covid-19. Each of the three devolved nations of the United Kingdom has its own spokesperson to update the public on measures that need to be followed to stop the spread of the virus, while England the fourth nation of the United Kingdom is left to be told what to do by a spokesperson from the UK Government. This situation illustrates the problem that devolution was never completed by Tony Blair's government between 1997 and 2007, meaning England was deprived of its own dedicated assembly or parliament and government separate from Westminster and Whitehall.

If the constitutional situation in the United Kingdom is to be tidied up, then the Westminster Parliament in London should become the federal parliament for the whole of the United Kingdom and nothing else, while England should be allowed and required to form its own parliament preferably outside of London in a geographically central city such as Birmingham. Likewise the UK Government would become the federal government of the United Kingdom, while England like the other nations of the Union would have its own government formed by members of its own dedicated parliament. This would alleviate the inbalance and democratic deficit of the English not having their own parliament.

A future historian may one day write that if the English had been allowed their own parliament within the United Kingdom, then Brexit would not have happened. Although such an argument would not explain Welsh support for leaving the European Union in the referendum of 2016, it would help explain the direction English nationalism had taken at the time of the EU referendum.

Fintan O'Toole, the author of 'Heroic Failure Brexit and the politics of pain' used the term "sublimation of Englishness into Britishness" to explain how at one time the English dominated the other nations of the British Isles, by the imposition of an English cultural identity on all parts of the Union. This may explain why politicians behind devolution in the late 1990s never planned for England to be devolved from the United Kingdom unlike the other three nations, because England had always been the most powerful nation of the Union. However without English devolution the situation has reversed itself, turning England into a zone more subordinate to Westminster and Whitehall than the other three nations of the United Kingdom. At the time of the referendum many people in England already felt disenfranchised, and this anger was easily directed against the European Union instead of the failed constitutional framework of the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31st January 2020, but the public have been distracted away from Brexit by the consequences of Covid-19. However, once the transition period ends on 31st December 2020 the United Kingdom will no longer have access to European markets unless a trade agreement can be arranged. The UK's negotiating position would be stronger, if the EU negotiators could be confident that British standards matched those of the EU, in areas such as consumer and environmental protection and workers rights. The problem for the UK is it does not have a written constitution which recognises human rights and the rule of law. A written constitution would also clearly state that all four nations of the United Kingdom are equal and recognise all of the democratically elected parliaments and assemblies. But without an English assembly or parliament separate from Westminster this is not possible.


O'Toole, Fintan; (2019) Heroic Failure Brexit and the politics of pain, Head of Zeus Ltd., London.

Bryant, Chris (ed.) (2007) Towards a new constitutional settlement, The Smith Institute, London.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2020

UK clean energy authority needed after Brexit if country is to meet net zero carbon targets

Published on 12th January 2020 by Jolyon Gumbrell

The UK government will have to ensure that clean energy and transport schemes in the British Isles continue to receive grant funding until they can stand on their own feet commercially. Once the UK leaves the EU, then the country will also no longer be a member of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCHJU) unless special arrangements are made under a trade deal with the EU. Therefore the government will have to create its own support organisation and provide funds for hydrogen energy and transport to meet the shortfall caused by the loss of EU funding.

Projects funded by the FCHJU that have operated in the UK: are the Hydrogen Mobility Europe Project (H2ME) and the European Hydrogen for Innovative Vehicles project (HyFive).

The H2ME project has supported the development of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) and Hydrogen Refuelling Stations (HRS) in several European countries. The project was launched in 2015 with €32 million funding from the FCHJU. Vehicle manufacturers involved in the project have been Daimler, SymbioFCell, Hyundai, Honda, Intelligent Energy and Nissan. Companies involved in building the refuelling infrastructure have been Air Liquide, BOC, H2Logic, ITM Power, Linde, McPhy Energy, OMV, AREVA, EIFER, H2 MOBILITY Deutschland, HYOP, Icelandic New Energy, and Communauté d'Agglomération Sarrenguemines.

In 2015 the HyFIVE project funded 12 new Mirai hydrogen powered cars manufactured by Toyota that were delivered to London, where they were used by Transport for London to carry out maintenance work between bus stops and tube stations. In 2016 the first public access hydrogen refuelling station in London was opened at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington and funded by the FCHJU and the UK Government Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). This came after ITM Power launched the UK's first public access hydrogen refuelling station in September 2015 at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, just off the M1, Junction 33 in South Yorkshire which was funded by Innovate UK.

The UK's future clean energy funding authority should aim to be more ambitious than the FCHJU, because every petrol station in the UK will soon need to be a hydrogen refuelling station for FCEVs and have charging points for EVs. Building the new refuelling infrastructure across the country is going to cost billions of pounds, but it will create new jobs and skills and break our dependence on fossil fuels. Renewable energy and energy storage are already making the smart grid a reality, and vehicle refuelling stations in a decarbonised economy will play their part.

The extent and scale of the bush fires in Australia will remind everyone that climate change is a global phenomenon, and every country must play its part to fight global warming by abandoning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. This process is not going to be easy, but countries such as China and India - which bought coal from Australia as well as mined it from their own territories - will now be looking for new clean energy sources. The UK could become a global service provider for the energy transition after Brexit, if it has enough expertise in the area of clean energy, which will connect renewable energy to energy storage to transport. This is why creating a clean energy authority in the UK is important for foreign trade, as well as enabling the country to meet its own net zero carbon targets.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2020

Germany to help India improve air quality in cities with green investments

Published on 28th November 2019 by Jolyon Gumbrell

On 2nd November 2019 the German news website reported a state visit by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to India. Mrs Merkel attended the annual general meeting of the Deutsch-Indischen Handelskammer (Indo-German Chamber of Commerce) in New Delhi, where she spoke of German economic investment in India for the modernization of infrastructure, such as new high speed rail connections.

Mrs Merkel also spoke about German investments of one billion euros over a five year period for sustainable mobility, including electric buses that would replace older diesel powered vehicles. During Mrs Merkel's visit the Indian government declared a health emergency caused by smog in New Dehli. The smog had a number of contributing factors including the burning of stubble in fields in the surrounding countryside after the harvest, the burning of refuse heaps, dust from building sites, and emissions from factories as well as the emissions from the millions of fossil fuel vehicles on the streets of the city.

The smog emergency in New Dehli came at a time when India was already thinking of how the country should tackle the air pollution problem. During the last day of her visit Mrs Merkel was shown an underground station powered by solar energy. At this station battery powered electric rickshaws are now available for commuters to hire for the last leg of their journey.

The consequences of climate change in Europe and India will be an important factor in any future trade negotiations between the EU and India. India has a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030. In 2013 the EU and India failed to reach a free trade agreement, but during her visit Mrs Merkel indicated that the EU and India should make another attempt at an agreement. The Chancellor also said the German government would make it easier for skilled workers from India to emigrate to Germany.

Negotiations between the EU and India could restart in 2020 as the UK is leaving the EU. This would mean both the UK and EU separately trying to negotiate their own free trade deals with India at the same time. However the recent smog emergency in New Dehli will focus the minds of Indian negotiators on air quality and climate change to a greater extent than during previous free trade negotiations. The tagesschau website said that according to scientific research, there are at least one million premature deaths every year in Indian conurbations caused by air pollution.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2019

Could green hydrogen save jobs at Bridgend and Scunthorp? Only if the UK rejoins the EU ETS.

Published on 18th June 2019 by Jolyon Gumbrell

On 7th June 2019 the website WalesOnline reported that the Ford engine plant at Bridgend in Wales is due to close next year with a loss of 1,700 jobs. Many of the engineering jobs at the plant are highly skilled and well paid, so their loss will have a devastating effect on the local economy. The article by Estel Farell-Roig in WalesOnline said:

"And for whatever reason, it [Ford] has not chosen to invest in Bridgend to make the engines those electric cars will need in south Wales. With demand for Bridgend's petrol engines plummeting, Ford is shutting the plant. The much-scaled-back number of the dragon engines Ford had been planning to make there from 2020, just 125,00-a-year at the last estimate, will now be made in Mexico."

The hydrogen fuel cell manufacturer Symbio could be the ideal business partner or investor, if the engine plant at Bridgend is to be saved and run by a new owner. Symbio - which is owned by the Michelin Group - designs hydrogen cell modules that can be used in different types of electric vehicles such as utility vehicles, buses, heavy-goods vehicles and boats etc. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles are like battery powered vehicles in that they have zero emissions of green house gases. However hydrogen vehicles have the advantage over battery vehicles, in that the hydrogen refuelling time is faster than recharging a battery.

Symbio is supported by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCHJU). The FCHJU is a public private partnership that supports research and development projects involving hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. The FCHJU also supports the market introduction of these clean energy technologies, which will improve air quality in cities and reduce green house gas emissions as traditional combustion engines are phased out.

One of the FCHJU's most ambitious projects is H2FUTURE, which has the potential to transform heavy industry through the use of green hydrogen. The aim of the project is to decarbonize the steel industry, so hydrogen produced by electrolysis from renewable energy sources can be used instead of coke and coal in the steel making process. The EU as the public partner of FCHJU is providing €18 million in funding for a pilot project at the Voestalpine steel works in Linz, Austria. The project involves the construction of a 6 megawatt electrolyser built by Siemens. Acccording to a press release on FCHJU's website the plant was scheduled to be fully operational by spring 2019.

About two weeks before the announcement of the closure of the Ford engine plant at Bridgend, British Steel's steel works at Scunthorpe went into receivership. Unless a new owner of the steel works can be found 5000 workers will be made redundant from the plant. When one takes into account those jobs in the supply chain dependant upon the plant, between 12,000 and 25,000 jobs could go as a result of the closure of British Steel. As with the closure of the factory at Bridgend, the jobs are highly skilled and well paid, and their loss will have a devastating effect on the local economy.

It is vital that the steel works at Scunthorpe is kept open, as it makes a variety of quality steel products, including the steel rails used by Network Rail and therefore an important supplier to the infrastructure of public transport in the UK. Likewise the steel works could play its part in building the metal infrastructure for the new hydrogen refuelling stations, that will be needed to refuel the new hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles that will be on our roads.

There are two reasons why the FCHJU could have an interest in the survival of the steel works in Scunthorpe: the first as already mentioned is the plant could supply some of the hardware for the hydrogen refuelling stations; the second is that Scuthorpe could participate in the H2FUTURE project alongside the pilot project in Austria.

At the moment the Sheffield based clean energy company ITM Power is building a 10 megawatt electrolysis plant at Shell's Rheinland Refinery at Wesseling in Germany. Hydrogen at the plant will be produced from electricity from renewable sources rather than from natural gas, thus reducing CO2 emissions at the site. This project referred to as Refyne is a partnership between ITM Power, SINTEF, thinkstep, and Element Energy, which the FCHJU has funded with €10 million. The experience that ITM Power has gained on this large scale energy project, would make it an ideal partner to work with the Scunthorpe steel works, on a project to introduce green hydrogen into the production process of steel. However, first of all a new owner of the British Steel plant needs to be found to save it from closure.

According to an article by Jamie Macaskill that appeared on the website GrimsbyLive of 15th May 2019 entitled: 'How British Steel in Scunthorpe ended up facing a catastrophic closure - as hope grows help is on the way', the biggest problem facing the Scunthorpe steel works was:

"British Steel risked being fined £500 million for breaching EU laws designed to reduce carbon emissions, as well as a bill for more than £100m to buy new ‘allowances’ to let it continue operating what is essentially a polluting business which contributes to greenhouse gases."

Two factors have caused the recent financial difficulties at British Steel: firstly the private equity company Greybull Capital - that managed British Steel from 2016 until it was put into administration in May 2019 - was given free allowances which it sold for a profit, before they could be offset against greenhouse gas emissions produced by the steel works in accordance with the EU's Emissions Trading System (EU ETS); secondly as a result of Brexit the UK is no longer a member of the EU ETS.

Whatever the outcome of the Brexit process, if British Steel is to find a new buyer and keep its access to the European market without paying huge fines and tariffs, the UK must rejoin the EU ETS. The EU ETS was set up by the European Union in 2005 to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and perfluorocarbons (PFCs), which are responsible for global warming and causing climate change.

The EU ETS normally has 31 member countries consisting of 28 EU Member States (although that number is now 27 as the UK is no longer a member of EU ETS because of Brexit) plus Iceland, Leichtenstein, and Norway. The EU ETS regulates greenhouse gas emissions from the following industries: oil refineries, steel works and production of iron, aluminium, metals, cement, lime, glass, ceramics, pulp, paper, cardboard, acids and bulk organic chemicals, and civil aviation. According to the European Commission's factsheet on EU ETS:

"By putting a price on carbon and thereby giving a financial value to each tonne of emissions saved, the EU ETS has placed climate change on the agenda of company boards across Europe. Pricing carbon also promotes investment in clean, low-carbon technologies."

On 1st May 2019 GrimsbyLive reported in an article entitled: 'Emergency £120m British Steel loan is vote of confidence in Scunthorpe', that the British Government had lent British Steel £120 million to pay for the company's carbon emissions bill for 2018. The article by Jamie Waller went on to say:

"Businesses should have been awarded their permits in March but British companies have been frozen out from this year's allocation, covering more than £2 billion of allowances, of which Scunthorpe-based British Steel is said to account for around five per cent."

The consequences of the UK leaving the EU ETS go beyond British Steel, effecting the whole of heavy industry and the energy sector in the UK. EU ETS recognizes that heavy industry and the energy sector still require fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal to function, which is why these industries are given allowances that are capped under the scheme. If a company that is a heavy polluter needs to buy additional allowances, because its greenhouse gas emissions are greater than the cap set by the EU ETS, then it can purchase its allowances either at auction or from another company that has surplus allowances to sell. The company from which the polluter buys the surplus allowances may not be a burner of fossil fuels at all - such as a renewable energy company that gets its electricity from wind, tidal or solar power, or a company using hydrogen produced by electolysis to store energy from renewable sources - therefore it has a surplus of allowances.

The EU ETS creates the incentive for the heavy polluter to reduce its CO2 emissions by making its plant more efficient so it consumes less fossil fuel, or by investing in other companies in the geen energy sector. The purpose of EU ETS is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050 in accordance with international treaties to reduce global warming which is causing climate change.

As the UK has left EU ETS it will lead to less funding of the green energy sector in the UK, and threaten thousands of jobs in this new high tech industry. Both the engine plant in Bridgend and the steel works in Scunthorpe could easily find new buyers, if they were involved in FCHJU projects, which are part of the green hydrogen revolution replacing oil, coal, and natural gas as a fuel. However, the revival of British industry through the energy transition can only take place if the UK rejoins the EU ETS.


Davis, Rob. (26th May 2019) "Should the government step in to save stricken British Steel?" The Observer

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2019

Fighting climate change with hydrogen technologies should be the main issue of the European elections

Publisheh on 7th May 2019 by Jolyon Gumbrell

The people of the United Kingdom are lucky that they have a chance to vote in the Euopean parliamentary elections of 2019. If Theresa May and the Brexit wing of her party had had their way, then the United Kingdom would have left the EU on 29th March this year, excluding the British people from the opportunity to participate in European democracy. However the debate during the European election campaign must go beyond whether the UK leaves or stays in the EU, because the threat of climate change is even more dangerous than Brexit.

British participation in the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCHJU) is essential if the United Kingdom wants to fight climate change and build a post carbon economic future for itself. If the UK leaves the EU, then it is difficult to see how the country could continue being involved with the FCHJU, which is a European partnership. The purpose of the FCHJU is to make clean energy a reality, improve air quality, and reduce CO2 emissions by implementing hydrogen technologies coupled to renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, tidal, and wave power, while at the same time developing a new industry which will create employment.

The key to this new industry is "green hydrogen" produced by electrolysis using electricity from renewable sorces. Today modern PEM electrolysers allow electricity to be stored as hydrogen, so the energy source can be used when the supply from renewables does not meet demand. Research projects funded by the FCHJU have allowed electrolysers to become more powerful and efficient. According to a brochure produced by the FCHJU: "The second strand relates to FCHJU projects that have demonstrated the increasing power of electrolysers. This has risen from 100 KW, with project Don Quichote in 2011, to 6MW in the 2016 H2Future project."

We are living through a hydrogen technology revolution, which is going to make diesel and petrol burning internal combustion engines obsolete, as more and more cars are built in the form of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). If the United Kingdom is not a partner in the process, it will be left behind. When a Japanese car manufacturer is looking for a location to build FCEVs for the European market, it will choose a country involved in the FCHJU, because the FCHJU is a collaborative partnership of the European Commission, industry, and research, which is developing hydrogen transport and refuelling infrastructure.

The United Kingdom's involvement with the FCHJU is essential in order for the country to meet its net-zero-emissions targets by 2050. Several important projects in the UK have already benefitted from FCHJU finding such as the BIG HIT project on Orkney. BIG HIT works in partnership with the European Marine Energy Centre Ltd (EMEC) in Orkney. The Orkney Islands are already self sufficient in electricity produced by tidal and wave power. BIG HIT follows on from the Orkney Surf n' Turf initiative, producing hydrogen from wind and tidal energy using a 1MW capacity electrolyser on Shapinsay and a 0.5MW electrolyser on Eday. The hydrogen is then stored as a high pressure gas in tube-trailers which are transported by ferry to Kirkwell, where the gas is used to heat and power buildings and as fuel for a fleet of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles used by Orkney Islands Council.

Only political parties that are committed to the UK remaining within the EU could make a positive contribution to politicies that will help Europe fight climate change. The policy of the Eurpean Parliament should be to phase out all fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas across Europe before 2050. This can only be achieved if new green industies are created in the former coal and steel industrial regions of Europe to create employment and save the environment. The first policy of the newly elected European Parliament should be to ban shale gas fracking in Europe, and allow the green hydrogen industry to grow as part of the energy transition process.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2019

Hydrogen cells and agriculture: The future of green energy in the countryside

Published on 17th April 2019 by Jolyon Gumbrell

Power to gas technology could go further to save the environment from fossil fuel emmissions, by increasing the use of clean fuel from sources of wind, solar and tidal power in rural areas. Companies such as ITM Power in the United Kingdom are already manufacturing electrolyser systems used for power to gas storage and hydrogen refuelling stations, but there are still many new opportunities for how this technology could be used in agriculture.

If the hydrogen fuel station could be brought to the farm yard or the village, then it could serve both the needs of local transport as well as agricultural vehicles and equipment. At the moment few manufacturers of tractors are aware of the full potential of hydrogen fuel cell technology for their industry, but it is worth looking at how hydrogen to electric power is being used in other heavy vehicle applications.

The REVIVE (Refuse Vehicle Innovation and Validation in Europe) project has developed 15 hydrogen fuel cell refuse trucks in 8 different cities across Europe. The cities involved in the project are Breda; Helmond; Amsterdam; Groningen; Antwerp; South Tyrol (Bolzano and Merano); and Freiburg. The trucks built for this project are useful, because they carry out their tasks of waste disposal, as well as being zero emission heavy duty vehicles, which means they do not run on diesel or any other fossil fuel, so they can meet the challenges of climate change and air polution. This project is funded by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (FCH2JU), a public private partnership supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, the New European Research Grouping on Fuel Cells and Hydrogen (N. ERGHY), and Hydrogen Europe.

According to the project's website "Most refuse trucks operate from a single depot, allowing them to be incorporated into captive fleets. This improves the utilisation of local hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, and thus the infrastructure's economics."

If heavy duty vehicles can operate from a single depot, then likewise a farm yard that has a hydrogen refuelling facility on site - powered by a wind turbine, solar panels or biomass plant - could easily provide the fuel needs of the farm's hydrogen fuel cell powered tractors. The storage of hydrogen energy from renewable energy sources is ideal for decentralized infrastructure, which could provide the electricty supply to a rural community.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2019

Illegal political funding across Europe. Part II

Published on 12th January 2019 by Jolyon Gumbrell

Russian support for right wing eurosceptic parties across Europe, whether it is UKIP in the United Kingdom, the FN in France, or the AfD in Germany, may one day be seen by historians as a arm of Putin's foreign policy which aimed to break up the European Union. Likewise Russian interference in the US Presidential election of 2016 may be viewed as an attempt to destabilize the United States of America.

Arron Banks and August von Finck (for information on Fink see Part I of this article) have two things in common: the first is gold, and the second is they both like making generous donations to right wing eurosceptic political causes or parties. Arron Banks was the multi million pound donor behind Nigel Farage's campaign for the UK to leave the EU. In November 2015 Banks set up the campaign organization Leave.EU, which was involved in the 2016 EU referendum.

According to an article by Carole Cadwalladr entitled: "Top Brexit funder 'had multiple meetings with Russian officials'", published in The Observer on 10th June 2018, Banks had two meetings with Russian government officials in the week Leave.EU was launched. According to the article Banks and his business partner Andy Wigmore were invited to the Russian embassy in London on 18th November 2015, where the Russian ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko introduced them to a Russian businessman with interests in Russian goldmines. The article said: "they were offered a chance to invest in a plan to buy six Russian gold firms and merge them into a single entity potentially netting a prfit of several billion dollars."

In another article by Luke Harding and Dina Nagapetyants entitled: "UK visa of Russian oligarch who met Banks under review" published in The Guardian on 16th June 2018, the Russian business man was named as Siman Povarenkin, the founder of GeoProMining, a company which runs gold mining enterprises in Armenia, Russia and Georgia. According to the article, Russia's biggest bank Sberbank has investments in GeoProMining, whose chief executive German Gref is a former economics minister with connections to the Kremlin. The Guardian article of 16th June 2016 said: "On 5th July 2016, days after the referendum, Sberbank announced that it was upping its stake in Povarenkin's GeoProMining firm, from 23.74% to 31.5%."

The Kremlin would have known that the UK leaving the EU is going to cause chaos for trade between the British Isles and continental Europe. Under these circumstances: shipments of food, medicines along with other goods and services are going be disrupted. This in turn could cause a global economic slump, which would push up the price of gold as an alternative investment. However, for the Kremlin it would be more than just manipulating the price of gold, but rather weakening cooperation between western allies.


Cadwalladr, Carole. (10th June 2018) "Top Brexit funder 'had multiple meetings with Russian officials'", The Observer.

Harding, Luke; Nagapetyants, Dina. (16th June 2018) "UK visa of Russian oligarch who met Banks under review", The Guardian.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2019

Illegal political funding across Europe. Part I

Published on 18th December 2018 by Jolyon Gumbrell

The following report contains words and quotations that have been translated from German into English by Jolyon Gumbrell.

Secret political donations have allowed external actors to interfere with elections and referendums in EU member states, which is damaging the democratic process across Europe. Often the source of a political donation can be traced to a company or organization based in a tax haven such as the Isle of Man or Switzerland, but finding out who is really behind the source of these multi million euro or pound donations is more difficult.

In Germany an organization called the "Verein zur Erhaltung der Rechtsstaatlichkeit und der bürgerliche Freiheit" - which translates as "club for the maintenance of the rule of law and citizens freedom", also referred to in English as the "Rights and Freedom Club" - has supported the right wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party in several elections. The chaiman of the AfD, Jörg Meuthen denied in "ARD-Sommerinterview" the summer television interview with ARD of July 2018, that his party had ever worked with the Rights and Freedom Club. However the chairman of the Rights and Freedom Club, David Bendels is also the publisher of Deutschland-Kurier, a political newspaper that supports the AfD.

According to email and interview evidence presentented by the German television program "ARD-Politikmagazin Panorama": David Bendels gave1500 free copies of Deutschland-Kuriers to the AfD's regional association in Rosenheim. The copies of the newspaper were distributed by party volunteers to local mail boxes. This happened in July 2018 three months before the state elections in Bavaria for the "Landtag", the state parliament in Munich.

According to a legal and constitutional expert, Prof. Sophie Schönberger interviewed by ARD-Politikmagazin Panorama: "the email evidence is a comprehensive connection between the club and the AfD, which means comprehensive proof that there was an agreement for election support between the AfD and the club. And this delivers plausible clues for the first time, that it concerns a type of illegal party financing."

The AfD should have recorded the donation of the copies of Deutschland-Kurier in their accounts of election expenses. If the AfD had published and printed its own newspaper, then 1500 copies distributed in the Rosenheim area would have probably cost the party at least €3000 to produce. However Deutschland-Kurier did not pass this cost on to the AfD, and the newspaper has also been distributed in other locations in support of AfD election candidates. If the Rights and Freedom Club is funding Deutscland-Kurier, then the members of this club are in effect AfD donors.

Under German law political donations received from countries outside of the EU are illegal, unless they come from a German or other EU citizen, or a company which has at least 50 percent of its shares in German or EU hands. Anonymous donations exceeding €500, and anonymous donations passed on from a third party are also forbidden.

According to reports in the German and Swiss press from the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Wochenzeitung (WOZ), the secretive billionaire August von Finck is thought to be a donor to the Rights and Freedom Club. It is thought that Fink's authorized representative Ernst Knut Stahl is one of the people behind the Rights and Freedom Club, who has in the past organized on Finck's behalf, political donations to right wing parties and organizations.

August von Finck junior who is now 88, was heir to a fortune that came from his family's business, the private bank Merck Finck & Co. His father also called August von Finck was the main shareholder of Merck Finck & Co., and sat on the supervisory board of several German companies in the 1930s. According to an article of 29th November 2018, published on the WOZ website entitled, "Ein schrecklich rechte Familie", which translates as, "A right terrible family": Finck senior was a member of a group of industrialists who met secretly with Hitler in 1933 and deceided to support the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party) with a secret election fund of three million Reichtsmarks.

During the Nazi period Finck senior profiteered from businesses and property which had been stolen from Jews by the Nazis. He was also on the boad of trustees of "Haus der Deutschen Kunst", an art gallery built between 1933 and 1937 in Munich, which used art for Nazi propaganda purposes. After the Second World War the Allies did not consider him as a serious Nazi War Criminal, even though he had helped fund Hitler's rise to power. In 1949 he was able to re-establish the bank Merck Finck & Co. In 1973 Finck senior also known as "Freiherr" or Baron, bought a castle called Schloss Weinfeld in Switzerland. Finck senior died in 1980 and the castle has since then remained in the possession of his son August von Finck junior.

It has been estimated in the media, that August von Finck junior has a fortune of more than €8 billion. In 1990 he sold the bank Merck Finck & Co., to Barclays Bank PLC and moved the headquarters of his business group to Switzerland to avoid German taxes.

In 2010 Finck junior acquired the trading name of the precious metals company Degussa. This was at a time shortly after the financial crash, when gold and other precious metals were considered a safe investment option. Degussa Goldhandel retail outlets were opened in Germany, Switzerland, Spain and the United Kingdom in response to a revived interest in buying gold as an alternative investment.

If Finck had made large political donations to the AfD, then it would come as no surprise, that the AfD has a policy to reintroduce a gold standard for the Bundesbank in Germany. According to an article published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on 24th November 2018 entitle, "Die AfD und der Geheimnisvolle Milliardär", which translates as "The AfD and the mysterious billionaire": Finck was supposed to have supported a policy with good will - proposed by an AfD politician called Peter Boehringer - to bring gold reserves back to the Bundesbank in Germany.

This story is to be continued . . .


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2018

Make the European Election of 2019 the Peoples Vote

An opinion published on 11th October 2018 by Jolyon Gumbrell

Elections for the European Parliament will take place from the 23rd to 26th May 2019. If the UK leaves the European Union on 29th March 2019 - then the British electorate will not have the chance to vote in the European elections of that year or ever again, and therefore forgo the right to send their elected representatives to the European Parliament. It is therefore quite urgent that Article 50 is rescinded in order to allow the British people the right to participate in European democracy. A true peoples vote would be to allow the British people to vote in the European elections of 2019.

I signed the e-petition to "rescind Art. 50 if Vote Leave has broken Electoral Laws regarding 2016 referendum", which was later debated by the House of Commons on 10th September 2018, as the petition had gathered almost 200,000 signatures. I do not believe there has to be a second referendum to rescind Article 50 in order for the UK to remain in the EU. It has already been proven that the referendum was a fraud and the public were lied to by both the Vote Leave and Leave.EU compaigns. There are also may questions of the source of the multi-million pound donation made by Arron Banks the founder of Leave.EU, and the contacts he had with the Russian embassy in London in the run up to the 2016 referendum. The result of the 2016 referendum should be proclaimed null and void on grounds of national security, because of Russian government interference in the referendum campaign.

The public were not given the correct information to make an informed choice, and were not told that they would personally be stripped of their EU citizenship - as they would no longer be citizens of an EU member state. They were also not told they would lose many of the rights and freedoms which are offered to citizens across Europe, as well as losing the freedom to travel, study, and work in another EU country without visa restrictions. My view of the referendum is that some dodgy salesmen peddled a dodgy product called Brexit to an unsuspecting British public in 2016.

The Labour Party does not need to go along with this Brexit scam, and I was unhappy that Jeremy Corbyn pushed his party to vote with the government to trigger Article 50 last year, when the public should have been told the uncomfortable truth about the terrible consequences of Brexit.

Many people believe that the UK can remain in the European Single Market and the Customs Union after the UK has left the EU. However this would still be bad for the country as the UK would no longer have representation in the European Parliament, the European Council, or the Council of the European Union. I believe the only option for the UK is to retain its full membership of the European Union or face economic decline and isolation. We also need to remember that the 27 other members of the EU may not wish the UK to cherry pick which parts of the EU it wants to remain in, as that would endanger the integrity of Europe.

The only safe deal is for the UK to remain a full member of the EU along with all of the rights and obligations which that involves. The peoples vote would then be for British citizens to elect their representatives for the European Parliament in May 2019, which would not be the case if the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2018

Deconstructing the Brexit fraud

Published on 15th July 2018 by Jolyon Gumbrell

The argument should not be about whether there should be a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit, because Brexit is a fraud and the loss of EU membership for the United Kingdom will mean not only that the country is disconnected from Europe, but also the rest of the world. Likewise it will mean loss of environmental, consumer, and worker protections in the UK, and also loss of the freedom for British citizens to easily travel, live and work in an EU member state. Australia will probably have a far better trade deal with the EU than the UK after Brexit, so why should the UK as a former EU member state on its own get preferential treatment? Brexit is a coup against civilization and the British citizens themselves will lose most of their rights as a result of it.

With regard to the Brexit fraud and the lies peddled to the British public during the EU referendum of 2016 - eg: £350 million would go to the NHS per week once the UK leaves the EU - it is worth making a comparision with a dodgy sales company making cold calls to an elderly relative. Your elderly relative or relatives - perhaps your parents or grandparents - are being told by a charismatic salesman, or perhaps grandad has been targeted by a charismatic saleswoman, that they have just won £350,000. The charming sales person says that they are unable to pay your elderly relative the prize money immediately, but will get back to them in the near future. When they get back to your elderly relative they say that the prize money cannot be paid by cheque, but requires not just the grandparent's sort code and account number, but also the debit card number and the security number on the back of the card.

You have tried to persuade your elderly relative that they have been approached by fraudsters, but granny or grandad just won't believe you, because they have been blinded to reason by a spiv or dodgy sales person. You realize that once your relative gives their bank card number and security code to the individual at the other end of the phone, instead of receiving a prize payment of £350, 000, they will have their life savings taken out of their bank account. In these circumstances it is your duty to tell your relatives that they have been the victims of of confidence trick.

For Brexiteers the result of the 2016 EU referendum is written in stone: 52 percent of those who voted in the referendum, voted for the UK to leave the EU, therefore according to the Brexiteers the "will of the people must be followed". But if the people have not made an informed choice, then the result of the referendum cannot be "the will of the people". When people voted for the UK to leave the European Union it was similar to the elderly relative who gives their bank card details to the fraudster at the other end of the phone line. They believed they would get a prize, but in reality all they would get is loss and misery.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2018

MEPs serving their constituents

Published on 4th March 2018 by Jolyon Gumbrell

Two MEPs: Julie Girling and Richard Ashworth from the United Kingdom, have defected from the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) grouping to the European People's Party (EPP) grouping in the European Parliament. The ECR grouping consists of right wing parties across Europe such as UKIP which want the EU to be broken up. Whereas the EPP is a larger more mainstream centre right grouping.

In a joint statement the MEPs said: "It is our intention to remain members of the Conservative Party in the UK as we believe the activities and approach of the EPP will more effectively further the prospects of achieving the best possible future for our constituents. We will continue to work for our constituents from inside the largest and most influential Group in the European Parliament".

The bad weather across Europe and Theresa May's Brexit speech in London on Friday have distracted attention away from this important story. The two MEPs will be aware that once their term in the European Parliament comes to an end in 2019, they are likely to be the last UK representatives for their constituencies at a European level. This is because the UK is leaving the EU in March 2019, and once the UK is outside of the EU it will be a third country, and it will not be entitled to take part in the European Parliamentary elections of 2019.

While UK voters will lose their voice in the European Parliament because the UK is leaving the EU, at the same time voters from new accession EU member states will have the chance to elect their own representatives to the European Parliament for the first time. According to the European Parliament's website countries from the Western Balkans such as Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzogovia could join the EU, if these European countries meet the EU's criteria of respecting democratic values.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2018

Worse than the loss of trade

Published on 27th February 2018 by Jolyon Gumbrell

At the moment there is a cherry picking debate going on in British politics, about which parts of the UK's trading relationship with the EU should be kept after Brexit. Theresa May is hoping for a transition period of around two years for the UK to remain in the EU's customs union and single market after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, while some Brexiteer Tories in her cabinet want the UK to be completely outside of the EU before then.

On the other hand Jeremy Corbyn would like the UK to remain in the EU's customs union to ensure free trade with Europe, which would benefit British industry after the UK has left the EU. One of Jeremy Corbyn's colleagues in the Labour Party, Barry Gardiner, who is Shadow International Trade Secretary was quoted in The Independent as saying, "Labour cannot support single market membership because it would dishonour Brexit vote".

Even if the UK remained in the EU's customs union and single market, the British people would no longer be able to send elected representatives to the European Parliament, unless the UK retained its full membership of the EU. The loss of access to the European Parliament for British people would be worse than the loss of a trading relationship with Europe, because sending elected MEPs to the European Parliament represents a cultural and political link with Europe as a whole, as well as giving UK representatives a say in Europe's economic policies.

If a MEP representing a UK constituency is doing his or her job properly, then that representative should be helping constituents in the UK to connect with those living in other EU member states, in order to support the common interests of EU citizens, which will shape the direction of Europe in the future. This could be done by creating better transport links across the English Channel and North Sea, and for the UK to join the Schengen area. This would help to remind the British that they are also both Europeans and EU citizens. But first of all Brexit must be cancelled.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2018

Barriers and tariffs on British exports after Brexit

Published on 24th February 2018 by Jolyon Gumbrell

Many Brexiteers still do not understand the difference between "after the referendum" and "after Brexit". If there was an increase in British exports as a result of the value of the pound falling following the EU referendum in June 2016, then people need to remember that the UK's economy at that time was still acting according to its membership of the European Union. Tariff free access to the EU's customs union and single market will apply until the UK leaves the EU, likewise trade agreements with the rest of the world are already in place, which allow the UK as an EU member state to trade with non EU countries. The negative economic consequences of Brexit will only be fully felt when the UK leaves the EU.

China is in the process of improving its trade links with the EU. On 25th January 2018 an article entitled "Die Seidenstraße endet in Duisburg", which translates as "The silk road ends in Duisburg" appeared on the website of the German news programme "tagesschau". The article was about the goods trains, which run on a 10,000 kilometre stretch of railway track between the cities of Duisburg in Germany and Chongqing in China. According to the article 25 trains a week arrive in Duisburg from China, which take around 12 days to reach their destination compared to around 40 days if the freight was sent by sea. Although a freight train cannot compete with a cargo ship on the quantity of goods it can carry - one train can transport a maximum of 60 containers whereas a containership can transport around 10,000 containers - the freight train has the advantage that it brings goods to a central logistics destination in mainland Europe.

The rail link from China through Russia to the European Union could become more significant, after the UK leaves the EU. Once the UK has left the EU's customs union and single market, then Chinese exporters will be less likely to use British ports, because the UK will no longer have privileged access to the EU's consumer market of 27 member states. Nobody knows what percentage of tariffs the EU will put on goods arriving from the UK, once the UK becomes a third country. If it takes 49.6 days for a container ship to travel from Shanghai to Felixstowe, and goods cannot easily be distributed from the UK to other parts of Europe, then Chinese exporters will use ports such as Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg as well as Duisburg which will remain in the EU rather than a British port.

Brexiteers often say that the UK does not need the EU, because the UK can export to the rest of the world. On the other hand, is it a good idea for the rest of the world to know, that the UK is voluntarily excluding itself from privileged access to Europe's consumer market as a result of leaving the EU? Would any other country in the modern world seriously consider leaving an important economic market, because that country dislikes regulations to protect the environment, health and safety, and workers rights?


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2018

Prosperity versus pollution in Germany

Published on 6th December 2017 by Jolyon Gumbrell

The energy transition known as the "Energiewende" in Germany is key to Europe's economic success in the future. It is not just about putting up wind farms and solar panels in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: it is also about using energy storage to create smart energy and transport systems, that will no longer be dependent on burning the fossil fuels of coal and oil. The knowledge gained by the implementation of the energy transition in Europe, will itself become an export commodity to countries such as China and India, which are desperate to move away from polluting coal fired power stations, not only to fight climate change, but also to improve the air quality for their own citizens.

There is some resistence to EU environmental protection regulations from those "Bundesländer", federal states in Germany, that have traditionally depended upon coal for employment. In an article of 22nd August 2017 published on the website of entitled, "Braunkohle-Länder fordern Klage", which translates as lignite states call for legal action: it was reported that the Minister President of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich had written a letter to the Minister of Economic Affairs, Brigiite Zypries, of the German federal government complaining about stricter EU regulations limiting the emissions of mercury and nitrogen oxide from lignite burning power stations. Tillich - who was writing on behalf of his own state of Saxony and three other states of Brandenburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Saxony-Anhalt involved in the open-cast mining of lignite and electricity generation from burning lignite - said that to keep to the EU's regulations would be technically impossible.

However the answer for Germany's future economic prosperity will not be to fight against the EU's climate protection and anti-pollution regulations, but rather to phase out the open-cast mining of lignite altogether. In the process new technology will be developed to bring many more local clean energy power sources onto the electricity grid. This will involve retraining and re-employment of management and workers - who previously worked in the fossil fuel energy sector - to implement the energy transition successfully. Instead of resisting the EU's environmental regulations: politicians, energy companies and unions should now be lobbying the EU institutions for grants to help with these structural changes of energy supply towards renewable energy and storage technology, that will phase out fossil fuels, in order to create a clean and sustainable energy future.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2017


A renewable energy deal for Europe. Published on 5 April 2016

The obsolescence of coal and oil. Published on 24 November 2015

Will Britain be left behind by energy storage? Published on 30 March 2015

Climate change and war

Published on 19th July 2017 by Jolyon Gumbrell

An art exhibition in Germany illustrated the tragic price of the migration crisis that is now effecting Europe. The theme of an art installation called Lampedusa 361 was about refugees who have drowned in the Mediterranean, while trying to make the sea crossing from Africa to Europe. The installation which has been exhibited in Dresden and Düsseldorf is not just a piece of artwork, but also acts as a memorial to those who have died and a warning to all of us.

The exhibition consisted of posters which were laid out rather like beach mats or towels on the ground in an open space. The posters were of photographs of the graves of refugees who died off the coast of southern Italy. Candles were placed on the ground beside the mats, which created the impression of actually being in a cemetery where the refugees had been buried. In the year 2016 over 5000 men, women, and children died while trying to cross the Mediterranean often in old leaky overloaded fishing boats. These events pose the question of why are these people going to such desperate measures to reach Europe?

Throughout history refugees have fled the terror of persecution and wars, which continues to the present day: at the time of writing there are wars going in South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, Iraq and Syria. These conflicts have created millions of refugees who have lost everything, but added to this is the phenomenon of climate change. Both of these problems of climate change and wars are global, and could be described as the force that is pushing the mass migration from the south to the north.

The mass migration is a symptom of a dying planet, where large areas of the planet are becoming uninhabitable. The human species is killing the planet and itself at the same time. Europe can no longer cope with mass immigration, but mass immigration is not the fault of the immigrants, everybody will do what they have to do to survive. If EU member states - including the UK irrespective of Brexit - are selling armaments to Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas producing states in the Middle East, then Europe is helping to make the problem of mass immigration worse.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2017

The Brexit business exodus

Published on 27th April 2017 by Jolyon Gumbrell

MedienHafen Düsseldorf possible location for business exiled from the UK by Brexit ©Jolyon Gumbrell 2016

One of the consequences of Brexit is that companies and organisations - which have head offices in the UK - are now looking to relocate their business premises to other European countries. Brexit is all about risk because the UK will be giving up the safety of the European Single Market, when the country finally leaves the EU in March 2019. The UK on its own will pay high tariffs to access global markets including the markets of non EU countries as the UK loses its protection of the European trading block. Life is going to become very difficult for any company located in the UK, which depends on trade in goods and services with clients outside of the UK.

One organisation that understands risks is Lloyd's of London, which intends to set up an insurance subsidiary in Brussels in 2019. Lloyd's of London came into existance in a London coffee house in the 17th century, where men used to meet as brokers and underwriters in the business of shipping insurance. Today as well as marine insurance Lloyds of London sells insurance policies that cover some of the following areas: accident & health, crime, cargo, casualty, employers liability, energy, fine art, motor, space, and terrorism. Although the Lloyds insurance market has done business from London for well over 300 years, the prospect of Brexit has made it take out its own insurance by opening a Brussels branch, against being excluded from European insurance markets. This is hardly surprising as according to the Lloyd's of London's website under the question: "How much of Lloyd's business comes from European markets?" it said: "In 2015, the EEA accounted for £2.93 bn or 11% of Lloyd's Gross Wrtten Premiu."

Organisations located in London that belong to or work for the EU will have to move because of Brexit. According to reports in the media, both the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be moved from the UK to another EU member state. This will result in around 1000 jobs being lost in London. Both EBA and EMA at present occupy office space at Canary Wharf in London. How much office space in Canary Wharf will become vacant when EBA and EMA move out?

The EBA has offices on "Level 46" of the office building at One Canada Square. According to the website of the Canary Wharf Group, the 50 storey building at One Canada Square has a floor area of around 27,583 sq ft (2,563 sq m) per level or storey. The amount that the EBA pays for its office space each year is not in the public domain, but if one considers that the rental of a square foot of office space including rates and services charges could be as much as £66 per annum, then the rent for the entire space used by EBA could be around £1,820,600 per annum.

The EMA which has a postal address at 30 Churchill Place in Canary Wharf: is located in the office building referred to on the Canary Wharf Group's website as 25 & 30 Churchill Place. The amount of office space that EMA rents at this location can only be estimated, but according to media reports the EMA employs around 900 people in London. Therefore if the EBA is employing 100 people at a nearby location in Canary Wharf, by multiplying EBA's estimated floor area by 9 one could guess that the EMA uses at least 248,265 sq ft (23,064 sq m) of office space at Churchill Place. If we use the figure of £66 per square foot, then it could be estimated that the EMA pays £16,385,490 per annum for the use of office space in London.

Making an estimation from the above figures, then the joint loss of EBA and EMA from Canary Wharf would cause 275,850 sq ft (25,626 sq m) of office space to become vacant. This would represent a gross loss of more than £18.2 million per annum for the Canary Wharf Group caused by Brexit. While business moves out of London because the UK is leaving the EU, then there will be great demand for office space in the towns and cities of other European countries.

Düsseldorf in Germany is one city that could benefit from the Brexit business exodus, as international companies leave the UK, in order to maintain their place in the European Single Market. Düsseldorf has its own version of Canary Wharf in the form of the MedienHafen. Both Canary Wharf and the MedienHafen are similar in that they were developed on former dockland, and now provide office space for financial and media industries. At the time of writing a new office development is being built at the MediaHafen, which could become a safe haven for business exiles from the UK.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2017

Full membership of EU, euro and Schengen: Britain's alternative to Brexit

Published on 9th March 2017 by Jolyon Gumbrell

The fightback against Brexit should not only be about saving the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union, it should also be about the country being more involved in Europe to get the most out of its membership. Two ways that the UK could get more from its membership of the EU would be joining the euro and Schengen.

Tony Blair was correct to criticize Brexit in a recent speech, but unfinished business from his own time in office as Prime Minister may have contributed to the leave result in the referendum of 23rd June 2016. This unfinished business was the United Kingdom's failure to join the euro, and failure to bring the country into the Schengen area. In 2003 Mr Blair committed the UK to fighting a war in Iraq, which distracted him and the country from making real progress with the European project. Without the Iraq war it is very likely the British public would have voted to join the euro in a referendum if it had taken place, which would have strengthened Britain's links with the Continent: not only economically but also culturally and socially.

If the UK had joined the euro, the country could have increased its local trade in coastal regions, as more visitors from other EU countries were encouraged to come to the UK for weekend visits, because they no longer needed to change their currency. If the UK had joined the Schengen area: it would have made journeys between Britain and the Continent quicker, because passport controls would have been removed for people entering the UK from another EU member state, rather like within the UK there is no passport control on the Isle of Wight for people arriving there from Portsmouth, Southampton and Lymington. Also passport controls would have been removed for people travelling from the UK to another EU member state. Travelling by Eurostar from London to Paris would have been no different to travelling by train from London to Birmingham. However, Schengen can only work if it is protected by border forces that protect the EU's external borders.

Removing internal borders within the Schengen area, but protecting the external borders of the area would have allowed for EU citizens and those who had entered Europe by legal means to move around the Continent freely, while keeping out illegal immigrants. The problem of recent mass influx of migrants into Europe, has not been because there is too much Europe, but rather not enough Europe. Europe can only coordinate the protection of its external borders: if it becomes a big country or one nation made up of its member states. Therefore a European Union which is a european federal superstate should be welcomed as a natural progression of history, just as there is a United States of America.

In his speech to Open Britain, Tony Blair mentioned the hostility of parts of the media towards Europe when he said: "There is an effective cartel of media on the right, which built the ramp for pro-Brexit propaganda during the campaign; is now equally savage in its efforts to say it is all going to be 'great' and anyone who says otherwise is a traitor or moaner; and who make it very clear to the PM that she has their adulation for exactly as long as she delivers Brexit."

That hostility from the media "cartel" made it so difficult for Tony Blair to commit Britain to Europe during his own time in office. If there had been better coverage of Europe in the media in 2002 and 2003, which had shown the British public how the EU could improve the lives of ordinary hard working men and women in the UK: then Tony Blair could have focused on the euro, Schengen and the european constitution, rather than getting involved in the Iraq war.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2017

Water, Agriculture and Renewable Energy

Published on 20th January 2017 by Jolyon Gumbrell

How could we save Europe, help refugees and fight climate change at the same time? It would be hard to deny that the refugee crisis - caused by wars in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan - has put a terrible strain on Europe, as millions of people from these war torn regions have sought refuge within the member states of the European Union.

If populist politicians have exploited the refugee crisis - by using fear of mass immigration and terrorism to gain support - then it should be recognised that the refugee crisis is also being used to divide Europe. Images of crowds of refugees were used by those campaigning for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union in June 2016. Perhaps the vote for Brexit would not have happened if the refugee crisis had not occured.

It is very probable that Angela Merkel will pay the price at the ballot box in 2017 for allowing over one million refugees into Germany in 2015. Likewise the refugee crisis will be used by Marine Le Pen, as an excuse to close France's borders and pull France out of the EU if she wins the french presidential election this year. The refugee crisis is the excuse for nationalist politicians to gain power, recreate borders and put up new fences across the Schengen area.

Europe has been unable to show a united response to the refugee crisis which is both humanitarian and practical. The best way to stop the flow of refugees into Europe would be to stop the wars in the Middle East and Africa, but there are no simple ways to achieve peace in these regions. If a safe place could be found to resettle refugees until peace is restored, then the numbers of people seeking asylum in Europe could be reduced, thus easing the presure on member states of the European Union.

There is no shortage of space in a North African country such as Libya, but the problem is that Libya itself has been disrupted by war and most of the land of the country is uninhabitable desert. If new technology could bring water, agriculture, and renewable energy to new settlements in the desert then the refugees themselves could maintain these communities.

An example of cooperation between different communities to bring water to a dry region can be seen at Auja in the West Bank of the Jordan near to the Dead Sea. On 20th May 2016 an article published in the New York Times International entitled "Muslims and Jews Cooperate on Solar Project", describes how a solar array was providing electricity to pump water to 45 Palestinian farms around Auja.

If the Sahara desert were to become fertile and habitable then solar energy could be used to provide power for desalination plants on the North African coast, and water could be brought inland by pipes to the new communities that were reclaiming the desert. First of all a pilot project of a few towns and villages could be seen as helping Libya's economic development and providing employment for local people as well as providing acommodation and employment for refugees. The first industry of these communities would be water, the second industry would be agriculture, and the third industry would be solar energy. The pilot projects would all have to start in a small way and would need military protection against attack from terrorist groups such as Isis.

The German development bank KFW has invested in one of the world's largest solar energy power generation projects in Morocco. In Febuary 2016 Noor I, the first of four power power plants was connected to the grid, which has the capacity to generate 160 megawatts providing electricity for 350,000 people. This is part of a plan to install four power plants close to the town of Ouarzazate in southern Morocco with an overall capacity of 580 megawatts, which according to KFW's website will supply "power for around 1.3 million people".

Similar schemes could be set up for building solar power plants in Libya, which would provide the electricity to power the desalination plants and pump the water to the new communities on the edge of the desert. Any scheme to resettle people would not work unless the infrastructure to support human life was put in place before people arrived. Therefore the first priority before any settlement could be built, would be water supply to the site of a planned settlement. Likewise the irrigation of agricultural land would be a priority.

Another problem would be dealing with the extreme heat of the Sahara desert, people cannot work outside during the day under these conditions. Tent like structures would be needed to protect workers from the sun and working hours would have to be reduced, to help those involved cope with the difficult and dangerous conditions. Progress would be slow but bringing water to the desert could be a sustainable way of fighting climate change, increasing agricultural yields for a growing world population, and dealing with the consequences of war. These projects would require the cooperation of many individuals from different countries including scientists and engineers from Europes' universities and technical colleges.


James Glanz and Rami Nazzal, (20th May 2016) 'Muslims and Jews Cooperate on Solar Project', The New York Times International Weekly.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2017

A vote for destruction

Published on 20th July 2016

Since June 23rd volumnes of analysis and comment have already been written in newspapers and online, about the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union as the result of a referendum. However, nobody fully understands all of the consequences of Brexit, as 43 years of treaties - between the United Kingdom and her nearest neighbours - will have to be taken apart. The immediate consequence of the result was that the value of the pound fell.

Once the UK leaves the EU after two or more years of negotiations: British passport holders will have to wait in the queue for "All other passport holders" to enter a member state of the European Union, opposite to the queue they now wait in as "Citizens of the European Union". If the EU decides to impose visa requirements on British passport holders entering a member state of the EU as a consequence of Brexit, then it means that the status of a British passport has also been devalued. How will the British economy fare by being excluded from the European single market? The 27 remaining members of the EU might not be willing to give British goods and services privileged access to the single market.

Many other benefits of EU membership will be lost for British citizens because of Brexit. These include the Charter of Fundamental rights which protects the human rights of EU citizens by law, and environmental protection policies. The EU has a policy to fight climate change by imposing caps on greenhouse gas emissions. This is part of a policy to create a low-carbon economy as Europe re-invests in renewable forms of energy, and energy storage: to create new jobs to replace jobs lost in tradtional industries.

While the United Kingdom is a member of the EU a British citizen has the right to live, work, and travel in any EU country, but these rights are threatened by Brexit. Will thousands of retired British people living in Spain be forced to return to the UK, because they no longer have the legal right to reside in an EU member state? Will British workers in Germany lose their jobs, because they will no longer have the automatic right to work there?

How much funding will local communities lose throughout the United Kingdom as a result of the decision to leave the EU? European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) provide grants for regions in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to help fight climate change with a "Low Carbon" grants; financial help to make small businesses more competitive "SME Support"; support for "Research and Innovation"; and grants that provide "Access to Employment", and "Learning and Skills". Details of these EU funded grants can be seen on a UK government website at . All of these grants will be terminated once the UK leaves the EU.

It is hard to understand why 52 percent of voters in the EU referendum decided that the UK should leave the EU, when there was so much to lose? The Vote Leave campaign had been very successful in getting its message across, which said to voters in a leaflet: "We send the EU £350 million a week - let's fund our NHS instead". However, this claim has been disputed: where did the Vote Leave campaign get the figure of £350 million a week from? And if the UK were to leave the EU, could the British public trust Tory ministers who are committed to austerity and public spending cuts to redirect the UK's EU membership fees into the NHS and other public services?

Vote Leave effectively used the fear of mass immigration to gather support for the UK to leave the EU. The Vote Leave leaflet said: "Over a quarter of a million people migrate to the UK from the EU every year". What the leaflet did not say is how many people leave the UK every year in order to move to another EU country?

Another Brexit campaign group, Leave.EU, used other methods to get to the electorate. An article by Robert Booth entitled: "Paul McKenna worked on Leave.EU ads", (The Guardian, 2nd July 2016), said: "The Brexit campaign enlisted TV hypnotist Paul McKenna to advise some of its campaign broadcasts, it has emerged."

An anonymous source from the Leave.EU campaign was quoted in the article as saying: "We didn't hypnotise anyone". How did this source know that nobody was hypnotised? Perhaps members of the Leave.EU campaign team were also hypnotised, along with the target audience of the campaign broadcasts?

The Guardian article also said, "The hypnotist is said to be a friend of Arron Banks, the Bristol-based multimillionaire insurance businessman who bankrolled the Leave.EU campaign with a £5.6m donation."

In a separate article entitled "Leave donor plans new party to replace UKIP - possibly without Farage in charge" (The Guardian, 29th June 2016), Arron Banks was quoted as saying: "What they said early on was 'facts don't work' and that's it. The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It's the Trump success."

The quotation above is a stark admission from a Brexiteer that those voting for the UK to leave the EU were responding to emotional stimulus rather than facts. Under these circumstances people could easily have been made to vote against their own self interest. In considering everything that will be lost by the UK's departure from the EU, a large part of the electorate were voting for: Brexit austerity; a Brexit recession; the removal of legislation which is there to protect them not only as citizens of the United Kingdom, but also as citizens of the European Union. A vote to leave the EU was a vote for destruction.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2016

The European Hydrogen Road from Sheffield to Bochum

Published on 9th May 2016 by Jolyon Gumbrell

A chain of hydrogen refuelling stations from Sheffield to Bochum could be the first stage in joining up the dots of hydrogen road transport across Europe. The first commercially operating hydrogen refuelling station in this chain is already in place at the Advanced Manufacturing Park near to Junction 33 of the M1 in South Yorkshire, England. It provides hydrogen fuel for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), which do not emit CO2 or any other greenhouse gases. The only emission from a hydrogen powered vehicle is water.

How would the construction of a chain of hydrogen refuelling stations from Sheffield to Bochum be funded? By oil companies moving away from fossil fuels, and the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH2JU). The FCH2JU is a private public partnership, which funds research, development and demonstration of hydrogen fuel cell technology in Europe.(1) This organisation - which is in part funded by the European Commission - has already funded three projects that are building the refuelling infrastructure to support FCEVs. These are: The Hydrogen Mobility Europe Project (H2ME); the European Hydrogen for Innovative Vehicles project (HyFIVE); and the Don Quichote hydrogen out of wind project.

The hydrogen refuelling station at the Advanced Manufacturing Park is described on ITM Power's website as follows:

"The site consists of a 225kW wind turbine coupled directly to an electrolyser, 200kg of hydrogen storage, a hydrogen dispensing unit and a 30kW fuel cell system capable of providing backup power generation for nearby buildings. The facility is a showcase for ITM Power’s world-class hydrogen generation equipment and is used to provide retail hydrogen fuel services. The M1 motorway was highlighted as a key route for the early deployment of hydrogen refuelling in the UK in the published UK H2Mobility Phase 1 Report."(2)

This hydrogen refuelling station would be the first point of refuelling a FCEV for anyone beginning their journey from Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, or Doncaster. After refuelling, the FCEV would continue its journey on the M1 in the direction of London, passing near to the towns and cities of Chesterfield, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Coventry, Northampton, Milton Keynes, and Luton before reaching the M25, which circles London.

At the time of writing a solar hydrogen refuelling station is being built at The Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence (CEME) in Rainham, which is located on the A13 between London City Airport and the M25. The hydrogen refuelling station is being built as part of the HyFIVE project and is due to be opened this year. The electrolyser at this station is being supplied by ITM Power. ITM Power has also supplied the electrolyser for a hydrogen refuelling station under the HyFIVE project at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington.(3)

After leaving the M25 the FCEV motorist would continue the journey along the M20 passing the town of Maidstone in Kent, as he or she heads towards the Eurotunnel entrance near Folkestone. On the other side of the Channel in France, the FCEV motorist would travel along the A16 from Calais to Dunkirk before entering Belgium. In Belgium the FCEV would be driven along the E40 passing near to the towns and cities of Ostende, Brugge, Gent, Brussels, Leuven, and Liege.

In Belgium the Don Quichote project demonstrates how electricity generated from wind turbines is stored as hydrogen. According to the "Don Quichote published summary pdf":

"The Don Quichote project (Grant Agreement N°: 303411; starting date: 1 October 2012; project duration: 5 years; partners: Hydrogenics, HyET, WaterstofNet, Colruyt, TUV Rheinland, Joint Research Centre, Thinkstep (PE International, Icelandic New Energy and FAST/European Hydrogen Association) aims to contribute to the Commission efforts to create large scale energy storage projects by demonstrating the market readiness of these components, integrating them into a comprehensive industrial system connected to a hydrogen refuelling facility to supply hydrogen to a fleet of material handling vehicles in a large logistics centre. As such, the Don Quichote project contributes to intensively demonstrate and validate the system level technology readiness and generate further facts based data for the exploitation of renewable electricity to hydrogen fuelled sustainable mobility."(4)

The hydrogen refuelling facility - which is part of the Don Quichote project - is located at the logistics centre of the Colruypt Group at Halle just south of Brussels. In order for the European Hydrogen Road to become a reality, similar hydrogen refuelling stations would need to be built along the route of the E40 in Belgium.

After passing Liege on the E40 the FCEV motorist would head in the direction of Aachen in Germany. After passing Aachen the FCEV would travel on the A4 in the direction of Cologne. Just before Cologne the FCEV would turn on to the A1 crossing over the Rhine on a motorway bridge and then passing near to the towns of Leverkusen, Remschied, and Wuppertal before reaching Bochum.

In October 2015 the oil company Shell announced on its website, that it would "install a nationwide network of hydrogen fuelling pumps at retail sites in Germany from 2016."

While Shell's involvement with hydrogen refuelling is to be welcomed there does appear to be a problem, because Shell is not entirely committed to producing all of its hydrogen by electrolysis from renewable sources. The press release from Shell said: "When hydrogen is produced from natural gas – the cleanest burning fossil fuel – it can greatly reduce well-to-wheel CO2 emissions compared to gasoline or diesel, due to the higher efficiency of the fuel cell drive train."(5)

However, it should be remembered that natural gas is a fossil fuel extracted from the earth, which still produces CO2 emissions. All oil companies - not just Shell - now need to be changing their business models to move away from the unsustainable exploitation of oil and gas in the ground, towards embracing technologies that make use of renewable sources of energy such as the sun, wind, and tidal power. The model Shell needs to follow for the production of hydrogen for its refuelling stations is already in place at the Advanced Manufacturing Park near to Junction 33 of the M1 in South Yorkshire, England, and the other hydrogen refuelling facilities mentioned in this article. Likewise hydrogen produced at a plant which stores renewable energy, such as Uniper Energy's windgas plant at Falkenhagen in Germany could also produce fuel for FCEVs. It costs millions of Euros to build one of these facilities, but that should be offset against the cost to our environment of continuing to extract dwindling fossil fuel energy from the earth.

Why would Bochum be chosen as the final destination of the European Hydrogen Road? Bochum would not be the final destination, once Europe has a complete network of hydrogen refuelling stations. The European Hydrogen Road from Sheffield to Bochum would be the first section in a much longer chain of hydrogen refuelling stations running from Dublin to Warsaw and beyond. Likewise it would be part of a much wider network of European hydrogen refuelling stations connecting Belfast to Athens and Scotland to Andalucia.

Bochum as an industrial city has much to offer in the development of hydrogen transport across Europe. After the closure of the Opel car factory in December 2014, Bochum is now looking for a new opportunity to create future employment in the town.(6) Helping to build the infrastructure of the hydrogen refuelling stations could create jobs for some of the workers who lost their jobs at Opel. Likewise once the refuelling infrastructure is in place there would be a greater demand for FCEVs. The European Hydrogen Road would create economic opportunities for Sheffield, Bochum, and all of the other towns cities and regions mentioned in this article, as a way of fighting climate change and uniting Europe.





4. van der Laak, W; Seykens, J. (2015) Don Quiochote Publishable summary September 2015.pdf


6. Reisener, Thomas (28.11.2015) '2500 Opelaner noch ohne Job', Rheinische Post.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2016

A renewable energy deal for Europe

Published on 5th April 2016 by Jolyon Gumbrell

A renewable energy deal for Europe could provide employment, revive Europe's economy, and fight climate change. Renewable forms of energy such as wind and solar power along with the component of energy storage, will not only fight climate change by reducing CO2 emissions, but also provide fuel for motor vehicles and be the basis of economic growth for years to come.

The need to find clean sources of energy could be illustrated by a disused petrol station in the city of Duisburg in the Ruhr region of Germany. The photograph of this abandoned fuel station was taken by Jolyon Gumbrell in February 2016. The fuel station is located just opposite the tram stop at Lutherplatz, Mülheimer Strasse in Duisburg. It may have been closed because of competition from two other petrol stations in the same street, or is it a more general sign that there is less demand for the fossil fuels of petrol and diesel as new more efficient hybrid vehicles are introduced, indicated by the recent lower price of oil? The author has seen two other disused petrol station sites in Düsseldorf, one of which at the time of writing is being redeveloped for housing.

If old petrol stations are being closed, then there is an opportunity for these sites to be redeveloped into hydrogen refuelling stations in order to provide the supporting infrastructure for the new zero emissions hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The problem is that the old stations are not being converted quickly enough into the new hydrogen refuelling stations. H2 Mobility Deutschland is responsible for building hydrogen refuelling stations in Germany as a partner in the Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME) project. In an editorial article published in the January 2016 edition of Hzwei, a trade magazine for the hydrogen and fuel cell industry in Germany, Sven Geitman wrote about a delay in the "50-Tankstellen-Programm", where a target of 50 hydrogen refuelling stations was missed for the end of 2015, when at the time only 19 stations had been built.

Why has there been a delay in building the new hydrogen refuelling stations? One of the problems is that some motor manufacturers such as Volkswagen, have been slow to develop a hydrogen fuel cell car for the mass market. In the autumn of 2015, when the VW exhaust gas emissions scandal came to light, Jolyon Gumbrell wrote in his Ideas on Europe blog, that the rescue of VW would involve a hydrogen powered engine. Since that time Volkswagen appears to have made no progress in developing an engine of this type.

Toyota is ahead of other automobile manufacturers with the hydrogen-fuelled Mirai, which is on sale in the United States for $57,500. The Mirai is already on the road in some parts of Europe. In October 2015 a press release from ITM Power said that Toyota was going to deliver 12 new Mirai hydrogen powered vehicles to London. This announcement originally came from the office of the Mayor of London, which said four of these vehicles would "be taken on by Transport for London to assist with essential engineering and maintenance work carried out between bus stops and Tube stations."

In the press release Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London was quoted as saying: “It is fantastic that London will benefit from these new state of-the-art hydrogen vehicles. By embracing this technology of the future, we aim to consolidate hydrogen’s role as a practical alternative fuel for the 21st century and beyond. I am sure that Transport for London will provide the ideal environment for us to see everything the Mirai can do and, in doing so, take another great step towards improving air quality in our city and protecting the health of Londoners.”

While the Mayor of London should be praised for the work he has done on this project as well as the introduction of hydrogen buses in London, which will both help improve air quality in the city and reduce CO2 emissions; his support for the "Brexit" for Britain to leave the EU is not consistent with this position. Why would the Mayor of London want Britain to withdraw from the EU when the partners for the HyFIVE project are operating successfully within the EU?

The HyFIVE project which is delivering the hydrogen refuelling stations to London was described under "Notes to Editors" at the bottom of the press release as follows: "The Mayor of London is leading the European Hydrogen for Innovative Vehicles project. HyFIVE is an FCHJU (Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking - part funded project made up of 5 manufacturers (BMW, Daimler AG, Honda Europe, Hyundai Motor Europe, Toyota Motor Europe); 5 hydrogen refuelling infrastructure providers (Air Products, Danish Hydrogen Fuel, ITM Power, Linde,OMV); and 5 consultancies and non-profit or government bodies (Element Energy, Greater London Authority, Istituto per Innovazioni i Technologiche Bolzano, Thinkstep, The Danish Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells )."

The use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles across Europe would not only help cut harmful greenhouse gas emissions, but also cut Europe's reliance on imported oil. Each new fuel station would be a mini power station with its own renewable sources of energy similar to the one built by ITM Power on the M1 in South Yorkshire, England, and described on ITM's website as consisting "of a 225kW wind turbine coupled directly to an electrolyser, 220kg of hydrogen storage, a hydrogen dispensing unit and a 30kW fuel cell system capable of providing backup power generation for nearby buildings." The new stations would also have electric power points to charge up the batteries of electric vehicles.

To build a network of hydrogen refuelling stations across Europe will require coordination at a European level with national and local partners, to get the infrastucture in place to provide the fuel for a new generation of clean fuel vehicles. This could be part of a more ambitious renewable energy deal for Europe.


Geitman, Sven. (Januar 2016) “Entscheidung erforderlich”, Hzwei

Disused petrol station in Duisburg, Germany. ©Jolyon Gumbrell 2016

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2016

How can Daimler's delivery van boom be made sustainable?

Published on 14th February 2016

According to an article published in the Rheinische Post on 2nd January 2016, the motor manufacturer Daimler reported that it had built 180,000 Sprinter vans in 2015 - 5000 more vehicles built than in the previous year - at the company's manufacturing plant at Derendorf in Düsseldorf. The boom in sales of Daimler's Sprinter van is the result of an increasing demand for parcel and package delivery services, driven by the expanding market of online retailers such as Amazon and Zalando.

However, this increase in productivity and sales has not led to greater job security for the workers at the Düsseldorf factory. The management of Daimler has decided to build a new Sprinter factory at Charlestown, South Carolina in the USA, which will produce Sprinter vans for the United States, Canadian, and Mexican markets. Up until now the company's factory in Germany has been manufacturing vans which have been exported to North America. The result of the Daimler's new manufacturing plant in the United States will be the redundancy of 650 workers out of a workfore of 6500 at the factory in Düsseldorf.

Daimler seems to have been distracted by the short term boom in logistics services both in Europe and North America, without considering the long term sustainability of its business model. Once a delivery company buys a new van, it has that van for use for perhaps five or more years. So demand will suddenly drop once the market is saturated. A thriving logistics industry could also be threatened by another recession. At the moment Germany's economy appears to be in a strong position, but that could change if more jobs are lost in traditional industries. The online retail industry depends upon the wages of customers, who work in companies like Daimler, to buy the products that are delivered to the customers' homes.

The price of crude oil may be very low at the moment, but as more consumers in the world feel the effects of climate change, then there will be grater demand for vehicles driven by cleaner fuels. Daimler is already committed to the transition from fossil fuels to other fuels such as hydrogen produced from renewable forms of energy. The company is a partner in the Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME) project, which aims to expand the network of hydrogen refuelling stations across Europe, and at the same time increase hydrogen-fuelled transport. In five years time, when the Sprinter vans with diesel engines made during the boom year of 2015 come to be replaced, then all of the vans manufactured by Daimler at the Düsseldorf factory should be hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Instead of making 650 workers redundant at the factory in Germany, Daimler should retrain and redeploy these workers along with the rest of the workforce at the factory to build the new vans with hydrogen fuel cells.


Breitkopf, Thorsten (02.01.2016) 'Daimler meldet 180.000 Sprinter gebaut', Rheinische Post.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2016

The obsolescence of coal and oil

Published on 24 November 2015 by Jolyon Gumbrell

If it were not for the traumatic events Europe is experiencing at the moment - the refugee crisis as thousands of people flee the war in Syria and Iraq, and head towards Europe; or the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris - then a very different story would occupy Europe's media. It would be the revolution in our energy supply.

On 30th October 2015 the Green Party in the 'Landtag', the parliament of the German federal state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, organised an event to discuss energy storage. The event entitled "Speicher aus NRW für die Energiewende" (North Rhine-Westphalia's storehouse for the energy transition) brought together politicians, engineers, scientists, business leaders, economists, and members of the public to discuss how renewable sources of energy from the wind and the sun can be stored.

Most people recognise the link between carbon dioxide emmissions caused by burning fossil fuels and global warming and climate change. The problem is how we can find alternative forms of energy to replace coal and oil? These already exist as solar and wind power, but are only available for generating electricity for a power grid when the sun shines or the wind blows. The solution to this problem is energy storage: the energy can be saved for times when there is no supply but greater demand.

The aim of the Greens in North Rhine-Westphalia's Landtag is to have 100 percent renewable energy supply for their state. The energy storage event was significant because it looked at all the technical options for integrating energy storage into existing energy grids and infrastructure. These options were presented by invited guest speakers, all experts in technical fields related to renewable energy, energy storage, and energy efficiency. The speakers were:

Prof. Dr. Ing. Volker Quaschning professor of regenerative energy systems at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW) in Berlin, who spoke about extending renewable energy networks - especially decentralised networks - with the technology we already have available. Dr Gerhard Hörpel director of Münster Electrochemical Energy Technology (MEET) at the Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, who spoke about decentralised solar storage for the energy transition, using lithium-ion batteries. Prof. Dr. Ing, Johanna Myrzik deputy leader of the institute for energy systems, energy efficiency, and energy economy at the Technischen Universität Dortmund (TU Dortmund), who spoke about energy storage as a component of the energy supply system. Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Sterner professor of energy storage at the Ostbayrischen Technischen Hochschule Regensburg (OTH Regensburg), who spoke about the challenges and potential of power-to-gas technology. Dr Gerhard Henßen coordinator of the taskforce "Business Development Future Technologies" at ThyssenKrupp Clorine Engineers GmbH, who spoke about redox-flow batteries and water electrolysis. Prof. Dr. Ing. Dirk Uwe Sauer university professor and chair of electrochemical energy transition and storage system technology at the Rheinisch-Westfälischen Hochschule (RWTH) in Aachen, who spoke about the storage of electrical energy for stationary and mobile use.

For a political party such as the Greens one of their biggest problems is maintaining public support, and to do that the cost of renewable energy sources along with the required energy storage will have to become cheaper for the consumer than traditional sources of coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power. The question of cost was addressed by some of the speakers at the event. One speaker made the point that not tackling CO2 emmissions is going to be far more costly, as millions of people are displaced from their homes by climate change when the sea level rises by one metre. The resulting refugee crisis will be on a much larger scale than the one we are seeing today.

The price for consumers will drop gradually as the technology of renewable energy and storage is extended to more networks. For this to happen in Germany, the federal government will have to reduce subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear power, in order to give renewable energy and storage a fairer chance to compete. Once this happens there will be further investment in the renewable energy infrastructure. The big energy companies in Germany need to decommission the old open cast lignite mines that are causing so much environmental destruction, and workers need to be retrained for new jobs in the renewable energy and storage sector. In this way jobs and the environment can be saved at the same time.

The revolution in energy supply and storage will mean that with power-to-gas technology: natural gas from fossil fuel sources will be replaced by gas produced by electrolysis from renewable energy sources. This gas will be stored and later turned back into electricity, used for heating buildings, or as fuel for vehicles. Likewise it means that the fossil fuels of coal and oil will become obsolete.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2015

The rescue of Volkswagen will involve a hydrogen powered engine

Published by Jolyon Gumbrell on 28th September 2015

What will be the long term consequences of the Volkswagen (VW) exhaust emissions scandal? Monday 21st September 2015 may go down in history as the day when the world finally lost confidence in fossil fuel powered vehicles. At the very least the scandal will probably lead to the diesel engine for private passenger vehicles becoming obsolete within five years.

Volkswagen's greatest failure was its inability to see that old fashioned petrol and diesel engines had no future, because the fuel that they ran on was problematic. However when the news story broke in September 2015, it was one of a massive fraud on the part of Volkswagen to circumvent the requirements of the Clean Air Act in the United States of America.

Volkswagen had deliberately designed or commissioned computer software installed in its diesel engine vehicles, which recognised when the vehicle was being tested to check the exhaust emissions. The engine was then automatically switched into a test mode, that produced a smaller quanity of harmful emissions of noxious substances for the test equipment in the workshop to detect. The test mode was different to the normal performance of the engine when driving the vehicle on the road.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States discovered that Volkswagen had installed this software in vehicles to cheat during air polution tests. The EPA whose job it is to uphold the Clean Air Act, found that the vehicles were emitting 40 times more nitrogen oxide when driving on the road than under test conditions in a workshop.

The scale of the exhaust emissions scandal is huge. It was reported in the German media on Tuesday 22nd September that almost half a million cars in the United States were effected, and Volkswagen was liable for fines up to $18 billion in the United States. The next day it was reported that 11 million VW vehicles worldwide had been "manipulated" with the computer software to enable the fraud. The chief executive of Volkswagen, Martin Winterkorn was seen on German television apologising for the loss of trust in Volkswagen, and promising a quick "clearing up" of the scandal. The next day he was forced to resign.

The company would have to set aside €6.5 billion from the third quarter of 2015 to deal with the consequences of the scandal. It had to immediately stop selling affected models, and in Germany the company lost almost 20 percent of its value, around €27 billion on the Frankfurt stock exchange. By Saturday 26th September German newspapers were reporting that the manipulated software effected 2.8 million vehicles in Germany. Lawyers began to draw up legal actions against Wolkswagen on behalf of customers who had been sold sub-standard cars. This is not to mention the fines VW will have to pay for breaking EU environmental protection laws.

Why did VW waste so much money and time creating a computer programme to hide the dirty exhaust fumes of an old fashioned engine, when they could have invested in a new type of engine that runs on a cleaner fuel? The management of VW should have seen a few years ago that the fossil fuels of petrol and diesel oil were unsustainable, very bad for the environment, and therefore made no economic sense as a means of powering a mass production car.

In the same week that saw Volkswagen's dodgy business model - built on deception and a diesel engine that emits noxious fumes - come unstuck, a project was launched in Europe to make hydrogen fuelled transport a practical alternative to petrol and diesel. The Hydrogen Mobility Europe Project (H2ME) aims to support the development of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and hydrogen refuelling stations (HRS) across Europe. It brings together hydrogen mobility projects in several European countries which include: H2 MOBILITY Deutschland, Mobilité Hydrogène France, Scandinavian Hydrogen Highway Partnership, and UK H2 Mobility.

H2ME is a partnership between industry - the manufacturers of hydrogen powered vehicles, and the companies such as ITM Power in the UK which are building the hydrogen refuelling infrastructure which will make hydrogen fuel a practical reality for the motorist - as well as government on a national and European level. If H2ME is to succeed then consummers need to see that hydrogen is both cost efficient and safe for the environment.

If the motorists can see that their fuel originates from a renewable energy source such as wind or solar power, then the fuel supply chain becomes much more transparent. This is already happening at the first wind hydrogen refuelling station open to the public on the M1 motorway in South Yorkshire, England, where the fuel is made on the forecourt. According to ITM Power's website the equipment at this refuelling station: "consists of a 225kW wind turbine coupled directly to an electrolyser, 220kg of hydrogen storage, a hydrogen dispensing unit and a 30kW fuel cell system capable of providing backup power generation for nearby buildings."

The VW scandal will remind consummers around the world of the true cost of burning fossil fuels in vehicle engines: not just global warming and climate change caused by carbon dioxide emissions, but also the immediate damage caused to consummers' health by nitrogen oxide enissions. The only way VW can save its reputation is with a new clean fuel engine, which will probably be powered by hydrogen from renewable sources.


CBU, MIBA, THF (22.9.2015) 'Der VW-Skandal', Süddeutsche Zeitung.

(23.9.2015) 'Winterkorn verspricht "schnelle Aufklärung"', Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung für Deutschland.

L. Hauser, R. Kowalewsky, T. Reisener (26.9.2015) 'Anwälte raten zu Klagen wegen VW', Rheinische Post.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2015

Austrian energy company will store gas from renewable energy underground

Published on 5th August 2015 by Jolyon Gumbrell

In a press release of 1st July 2015, the German electrolyser plant construction company ETOGAS, reported how it delivered an electrolyser system to a site used by the Austrian energy company RAG Rohöl Aufsuchungs Aktiengeselleschaft in the town of Unterpilsbach in Austria. According to the press release, the equipment consisted of a 40 foot electrolysis container and a 20 foot transformer/ rectifier container.

The statement went on to say: "It will supply hydrogen for the flagship project 'Underground Sun Storage', which is managed by RAG. This project is the first to explore the option of storing wind and solar energy in a former natural gas reservoir."

Electrolyser manufacturers such as ETOGAS and ITM Power, are showing energy companies how solar and wind power generation can become more efficient with the help of energy storage. The key to this process is the electrolyser, which uses the electricity generated from renewable energy sources of solar and wind power to produce hydrogen gas. The gas can either be injected directly into the gas supply network - as is happening at the Thüga Group's power-to-gas plant at Frankfurt-am-Main, which uses ITM Power's PEM electrolyser to produce hydrogen - or in the case with RAG's Underground Sun Storage project, the gas can be stored in an underground storage facility until it is needed at times of peak demand.

These recent developments show how gas from sustainable sources may one day supersede the supply of natural gas and oil from fossil sources. The old argument that wind turbines and solar panels are unreliable as they only produce electricity when it is windy or when the sun is shining has become outdated, because with the conversion and storage of electrical energy as gas, the gas can be turned back into electricity at other times such as on a still day or at night or when there is greater consumer demand. In doing so it will help to cut greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.


©Jolyon Gumbrell 2015

Will Britain be left behind by energy storage?

Published on 30th March 2015 by Jolyon Gumbrell

The prospect of either a UKIP government or a UKIP Tory coalition after the general election in May, could spell disaster for Britain's renewable energy industry as well as the energy storage industry within the UK. UKIP's energy policy is built around climate change denial, and the party is planning to repeal the 2008 Climate Change Act if it gets into office. Likewise it will scrap all renewable energy subsidies and this will also bring a halt to Britain's growing power-to-gas energy storage sector. While at the same time UKIP will push ahead with the dubious policy, of supporting the environmentally destructive shale gas extraction process known as fracking. (1.)

If this comes to pass, then the anti-environmental government in London would be not only following an unsustainable and regressive fossil fuel and nuclear energy policy, but also rejecting many of the technological developments - such as power-to-gas energy storage - that are now making renewable energy such as wind, tidal and solar power, a viable option. If the UK decides to move backwards in May and elects a government that is not committed to fighting climate change, then it will be moving in the opposite direction to much of the industrialised world.

The Energy Storage Expo and the International Renewable Energy Storage Conference which took place in Düsseldorf, Germany from 9th to 11th March 2015 presented many ideas of how climate change and energy sustainability problems can be tackled. It brought together companies and organisations that are already making a success of the energy transition to renewable energy with the help of energy storage. The 'Energiewende' or energy transition is not only a German or European energy policy, but also a global concept. There were stands in the exhibition hall of the Düsseldorf Messe from China, Canada, India, the United States as well as Europe. (2.)

China was represented at the Expo in Düsseldorf by the China Energy Storage Alliance (CNESA). In a brochure handed out by the CNESA it said: "The China Energy Storage Alliance (CNESA) is the first and only non-profit, member - based energy storage industry association in China. The CNESA promotes healthy renewable energy growth through the use of competitive and reliable storage systems. We work with the Chinese government to drive policies and spread awareness of the benefits that energy storage can provide to the grid. We also encourage communication and facilitate business between the government and the private sector, domestically and internationally." (3.)

There are many opportunities for the UK to take part in the energy transition, as it no longer becomes economically viable or environmentally sound, to extract dwindling oil and gas reserves from the North Sea. People who previously worked in fossil fuel industries should be given the opportunity to work in the new renewable energy and energy storage sectors, as new infrastructure is built to harness the power of sun, tide, and wind. A city such as Aberdeen that up until now has serviced the oil and gas industry, should be given the opportunity to move to a different source of energy rather than face economic decline.

The UK was represented at the Energy Storage Expo in Düsseldorf, by the power-to-gas energy storage company ITM Power from Sheffield. ITM Power manufacture electrolysers that can convert electricity from renewable sources such as wind, tidal, and solar power into hydrogen gas. The electrolysers are an essential part of the renewable energy supply infrastructure, because they overcome the problem of peak supply and peak demand by storing the energy as hydrogen to create a battery in the grid. ITM Power has built an electrolyser that is being operated by the Thüga Group at a plant in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, which injects hydrogen into the German gas grid. The company is also involved in building the infrastructure for hydrogen refuelling stations, which will provide fuel for hydrogen powered vehicles. (4.)

Today ITM Power is at the heart of the British energy transition to renewable energy sources. Shortly after the Expo in Düsseldorf, it was announced on ITM Power's website, that JCB ("J.C.B. Research and Valebond Consultants Limited, a company wholly owned by Jo Banford") had invested £4.9 million in ITM Power. With reference to this investment in ITM Power, Lord Bamford, Chairman of J.C.B. Research was quoted as saying: "We are excited by the prospects of hydrogen technology and our investment in ITM Power. We expect to be an actively supportive shareholder in ITM Power and look forward to working with the Board and management team and to sharing some of our expertise in manufacturing and engineering." (5.)

Although it was good to see ITM Power at the Expo in Düsseldorf, it was sad that British Industry did not have more participation at this energy storage event, considering that power-to-gas technology is key to clean energy, energy security, and the move away from fossil fuels in the fight against climate change. It would not have been a waste of tax payers' money, if the Department of Energy and Climate Change had sent a couple of civil servants to man a stall at the Expo. At least it would have sent a message that the UK is serious about expanding the renewable energy sector and energy storage. The lack of interest from the British authorities can be contrasted to the wide participation by both German government and German industry at the event. For example the state of North Rhine-Westphalia was represented by its own energy agency: EnergieAgentur.NRW, which gave out a booklet at the event entitled 'Wasserstoff - Schlüssel zur Energiewende', (Hydrogen - Key to the energy transition). (6.)

If the British government does not create a positive space for renewable energy and energy storage, then these industries will expand in other countries but never get off the ground in the UK. One of the problems of UKIP gaining any political power after the May general election, would be the party's hostility to renewable sources of energy, especially wind farms. A few years ago jobs were lost at the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight, due to the negative attitudes of those who want to stop wind farms being constructed. Opponents to wind farms bring out the old arguments that wind turbines are not reliable, without realising just how far the energy storage technology has advanced, which should now be part of the renewable energy system's infrastructure.

In February 2015 it was reported by the BBC that the Isle of Wight factory of MHI Vestas Offshore, would be creating 200 jobs in May of this year, in order to manufacture the 80m (260ft) blades for a windfarm in Liverpool Bay. (7.) As UKIP wants to stop windfarm development around the coast of the UK, then not only would these jobs be threatened but also potentially jobs in the energy storage sector. For a company such as ITM Power the business environment would become more difficult: not just because an environmentally unfriendly government might hit renewables and energy storage, but also because of UKIP's policy to pull the UK out of the European Union, as ITM Power is already a supplier to the energy sector in Germany. If this situation occured then Britain would be left behind by other countries less hostile to renewable energy and energy storage.









©Jolyon Gumbrell 2015

British manufacturer helping to make German Energiewende a reality

Published on 20th February 2015 by Jolyon Gumbrell

On 17th February 2015, the British electrolyser manufacturer ITM Power announced it had delivered a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser, to the energy company RWE Deutschland AG at Ibbenbüren in Germany. According to ITM Power this was the third rapid response power-to-gas PEM electrolyser installed by ITM Power in Germany. (1.) The delivery of the order comes a few days after successful tests results had been announced for the PEM electrolyser operated by the Thüga Group at Frankfurt-am-Rhein.

The delivery of the electrolyser was reported on the website of Netzwerk Brennstoffzelle und Wasserstoff NRW 'Fuel cell and hydrogen network of North Rhine-Westphalia', which described the electrolyser as, "a crucial part of the power-to-gas research plant which RWE is now installing at Ibbenbüren." (2.)

If Germany is to succeed with its Energiewende 'energy transition' policy, as it moves away from nuclear power and fossil fuels, then energy storage will play an essential part in making renewable energy sources of wind, and solar power more effective. The conversion of Ökostrom 'eco-electricity' into hydrogen gas when renewable sources are generating their maximum quantities of power, will mean any extra energy can be stored in the gas network until their is greater consumer demand or lower output from renewable sources.

The United Kingdom is able to make use of its membership of the EU to allow British companies such as ITM Power, to participate as equals with their partners on the Continent, in order to fight climate change and meet international targets to reduce Europe's dependence on fossil fuels. The sustainable energy market is growing across Europe, and will create green jobs in the UK and other member states of the EU.




©Jolyon Gumbrell 2015

British and German companies make progress with power-to-gas energy

Published on 16th February 2015 by Jolyon Gumbrell

The British power-to-gas energy company ITM Power announced in a press release on 11th February 2015, that its proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser had performed well in tests conducted for the Thüga Group in Germany.(1.) The electrolyser which has been in operation at Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany since 2013 converts electrical energy into hydrogen gas, which is then injected into the gas distribution network.

During initial tests the electrolyser recorded an efficiency of up to 77% when operating between 50 and 325 kilowatts. Stress tests on the equipment have been carried out jointly by the European Institute for Energy Research and DVGW Research at the Engler-Bunte-Institut. As part of these tests the variables of efficiency, control speed, load behaviour, and gas quality are being analysed.

A piece of plant equipment such as the PEM electrolyser in effect connects an electricity grid to a gas network, while at the same time making renewable systems of electricity generation such as solar panels, wind turbines, and tidal water turbines more efficient. Power-to-gas technology tackles the problem that renewable sources of energy are unreliable. Wind turbines only produce electricity when the wind is blowing, and solar panels only produce electricity when the sun is shining. However, with power-to-gas electrolysers, electrical energy can be stored in the form of hydrogen gas, when wind turbines or solar panels are producing electricity at their full capacity.

At the moment the Thüga Group's power-to-gas plant at Frankfurt is operating on a very small scale, so its energy storage potential is limited. However, the press release from ITM Power said: "According to a Thüga analysis, energy storage requirements could reach 17 Terawatt hours (TWh) by 2020 and could be as high as 50 TWh by 2050."

In future the electricity grid will be balanced, as excess electricity is turned into gas and injected into the gas network, when there is more electricity than demand. Likewise the gas that has been stored in the gas network will be used by gas power stations, when there is more demand on the grid such as in the evenings, but less power generation from renewable sources. The combination of the electricity grid and gas network in this way will create an intelligent energy system.




©Jolyon Gumbrell 2015

Will renewables find their Daimler moment in 2015?

Published on 26th January 2015 by Jolyon Gumbrell

Two things might happen this year: renewable forms of energy such as wind, tidal, and solar power coupled to the new power-to-gas technology could become more widespread; while there could also be a gradual decoupling of fossil fuel use from economic growth.

The issue of climate change has finally been recognised by world leaders, as one of the most serious threats to human survival on our planet.(1.) The message from the climate summit at Lima, Peru in December 2014 was to stop extracting fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas from the earth, and find alternative renewable sources of energy to power our modern world. This seemingly impossible task is the decarbonisation of the global economy, but in itself offers enormous opportunities for scientific discovery, technological development and economic growth, as the traditional fossil fuel energy industries become obsolete.

When James Watt obtained a patent for his steam engine in 1769, nobody knew that coal - the fuel that powered his machine - would be emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned, which in turn would contribute towards global warming and climate change. However, the inventor and those who issued the patent were aware of the need to conserve coal, if only on the grounds of cost and efficiency. The words of the patent said that Watt's steam engine had been "invented for lessening the consumption of steam and fuel in fire engines". (2.)

Watt's steam engine was a large immobile machine used to pump water out of mines. Later steam engines became more efficient again, and were able to power spinning and weaving machines in textile mills. Richard Trevithick was one of the earliest engineers to use a steam engine to propel a vehicle. In 1801 he drove his steam carriage on the streets of Camborne in Cornwall.

The question of fuel efficiency, was one of the factors why steam carriages never really got established on the roads during the 19th century. It is difficult to see how the modern automobile could have become popular, if it had required two drivers: one to steer the vehicle on the road while the other shovelled heavy coal into a firebox. However, the building of railway lines from 1825 onwards, created the infrastructure for steam engines to get more work out of a tonne of coal. The steam engine could travel faster and pull a heavier load when its wheels ran on metal rails set on a level surface.

The move from coal to oil as a fuel for vehicles would finally make the old dream of driving a horseless carriage on the roads a practical reality. When Nicolas Otto developed the four-stroke engine at Deutz in Cologne, Germany during the 1870s, the fuel used by his machine was coal gas. At that time many of the future applications of this internal combustion engine were still unknown: the engine was then sold to small workshops to power machine-tools. It may have been Gottlieb Daimler, the technical manager employed at Otto's factory in Deutz who realised that petrol would be a more efficient fuel for the four-stroke engine. According to Heinz Gartmann's 'Science As History', Otto sacked Daimler, because he underestimated Daimler's technical ability as an engineer. Otto was purported to have described Daimler as an "indescribably thick-headed" man. (3.)

In 2014 the company of Deutz AG celebrated its 150th anniversary. On the company's website is a photograph of the original patent certificate for the four-stroke engine issued on 13th March 1878 and backdated to 4th August 1877.(4.) According to Gartmann, Otto's patent was freed by the German High Court in 1883 after a legal battle. Around this time Carl Friedrich Benz who worked in Mannheim was experimenting with a gas engine to power a motor vehicle.

There must have been a moment when Daimler realised not only that the four-stroke engine could run on petrol, but also that the engine - free from the constraints of a coal gas fuel supply - could become mobile and therefore become the engine to power a vehicle. In 1883 Daimler was experimenting with a four-stroke petrol engine at his own workshop in Cannstatt near Stuttgart. He was helped by his assistant Wilhelm Maybach who had also left Otto's factory in Cologne. At first the men fitted an engine to a wooden bicycle, and later an engine was fitted to an old carriage. A patent was obtained for a vehicle with a petrol engine in 1885.

Daimler's automobile found a use for petrol, a refined product of crude oil. He was successful in finding a fuel and developing the technology that transformed road transport. As with James Watt's knowledge of coal, Daimler was ignorant of the effect burning oil in large quantities would have on our planet's climate. Today the challenge is to find a fuel that can replace the fossil fuels of coal, oil, and natural gas, in order to halt global warming. At the beginning of 2015 there were hopeful signs that hydrogen produced by the electrolysis process from renewable energy sources, will become the new fuel of motorised transport.

The Daimler moment of our own times may have arrived on 5th January 2015, when Toyota's Senior Vice President of Automative Operations in the United States, Bob Carter announced that Toyota would grant 5,680 of its hydrogen-fuel-cell-related global patents for use royalty free until around 2020.(5.) This means that Toyota's competitors will be able to refer to the research and development work done by Toyota on the hydrogen powered electric car, and further improve and develop hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles that will one day supersede oil powered vehicles.

Hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles cannot become a reality on the roads without the infrastructure of refuelling stations. In the United Kingdom the clean fuel and energy storage company ITM power is already manufacturing electrolyser-based refuelling stations that will provide hydrogen on the forecourt. ITM Power is involved with the HyFive project, a £31 million investment to provide three ITM electrolyser-based refuelling stations for London. The aim of HyFive is to establish the refuelling stations across Europe. The partners involved with the HyFive as mentioned on ITM Power's website are: "The Mayor of London’s Office, BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, Air Products, Copenhagen Hydrogen Network, ITM Power, Linde, OMV, Element Energy, PE International, the Institute for Innovative Technology and the European Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking." (6.)

Daimler was able to connect the four-stroke engine to petrol and road transport in the 1880s. Likewise today there is a new connectivity between the renewable energy sector generating electricity from wind, solar, and tidal energy; the power-to-gas industry using renewable energy to produce hydrogen as a fuel; and the automotive industry, which will be able to use clean fuels that don't pollute the atmosphere.



2. Gartmann, Heinz. (1960) Science As History The Story of Man's Technological Progress from Steam Engine to Satellite, London, Hodder & Stoughton, p.15.

3. Gartmann, p.60.




©Jolyon Gumbrell 2015

Why has Germany fallen behind in the climate protection index?

Published on 14th January 2015

In December 2014 the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) for 2015 was published by the environmental organisation Germanwatch, as a means of assessing the performance of 58 countries in tackling climate change. Between 2005 and 2013 Germany was one of the top 10 countries, whose climate policies were seen to be making the most effort to reduce climate change. However, in the last two CCPI reports Germany has been downgraded to 22nd place. (1.)

One of the factors for the downgrade may be that the energy company RWE commissioned a new 2100 Megawatt lignite burning power station, which was opened at Grevenbroich-Neurath in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany in August 2012. The two new units of this power station have costed 2.6 billion euros to be built. Building work began on the site in 2006, but was delayed as a result of a tragic accident that killed three workers in October 2007. (2.)

The power station - described as a Braunkohlekraftwork mit optionierter Anlagentechnik (BoA) which means 'lignite power station with optimised plant technology' - has been criticised by the environmental group Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND) estimating the plant emits 33.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum. This figure includes CO2 emissions from the older power plant units located at the Neurath site. (3.)

According to RWE's website, the new BoA 2&3 units are 30% more efficient than the older ones, which are being shut down. The website says: "much more electricity is produced from each ton of coal. CO2 emissions are down 30%. That is all of six million tons per annum – with power generated unchanged. A real contribution to climate protection." (4.)

This comes as Germany is pursuing a policy known as Energiewende or 'Energy Transition' which is to move away from nuclear power. It appears that Germany is burning the traditional fuel of lignite to generate electricity, because the decommissioning of nuclear power has created a shortfall of power output. However, a reliance on fossil fuels was never the objective of Energiewende policy. According to Henrik .W Maatsch's article published in The Guardian on 21st August 2014, the policy's ambitious objectives are: "Full phase-out of nuclear energy by 2022; 80-95% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050; Minimum of 80% renewables in the power sector; 50% increase in energy efficiency by 2050." (5.)

Even without the energy transition policy, or recognition of climate change caused by CO2 emissions: lignite fired power stations could never be an answer to Germany's long term energy requirements. In 2013 there were reports in the German media, that the opencast lignite mine at Garzweiler could be closed by 2018. According to an article in the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger the energy firm RWE rejected reports it would be closing Garzweiler earlier than originally planned.(6.)

It is possible that as more power from wind and solar energy comes onto the grid in Germany, a drop in the price of lignite on the energy market will make the opencast extraction process less profitable. Germany's place in the climate protection index should rise again, once the technology of the power-to-gas storage systems becomes more widely available, so renewable energy sources from wind and solar can be stored for the times when electricity generation is not possible.








©Jolyon Gumbrell 2015

Could sustainable gas as opposed to fracking give Grangemouth a long-term future?

Published on 1st December 2014 by Jolyon Gumbrell

According to recent reports in the British media, the chemical company Ineos is at the point of investing £640 million in the controversial shale gas extraction process known as fracking. See and

The company is hoping to use the gas extracted by this process as a raw material or feedstock for its chemical processing plant at Grangemouth in Scotland. At present Ineos is shipping shale gas by tanker from the United States to Grangemouth, but in future the company hopes to use gas extracted locally in Stirlingshire for feedstock at the processing plant. Taking into account dangers to the environment posed by fracking, as well as questions over the long term economic viability of this process, why has Ineos not considered the sustainable alternatives?

Some important questions were missed by the BBC correspondent John Moylan when he interviewed the Chairman of Ineos, Jim Ratcliffe. These questions could have been as follows:

1. How will the £640 million invested in fracking contribute to the EU's domestic 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target? The public, politicians, scientists, and those involved in new green industies and technologies: recognise the danger posed by global warming and climate change to human existance on earth. By failing to find a sustainable alternative to fossil fuel feedstock for many of the plastic products that the modern world requires, an opportunity will be missed to fight climate change. People living in the areas where fracking will take place are correct to be concerned, that their drinking water could become contaminated or seismic activity could cause cracks in the walls of their homes. In addition to these local risks, greenhouse gas emmissions are a wider problem for our planet's climate. Fracking will increase rather than decrease the amount of carbon dioxide - a greenhouse gas - which is released into the atmosphere.

2. How long will it take for any future gas extraction operation to move from the exploration stage to the production stage? If the examples of Preese Hall near Blackpool in Lancashire or Balcombe in West Sussex are anything to go by, the exploration stage can go on for a long time, cause damage to the environment, upset local communities, but not necessarily find enough gas that can be exploited commercially.

3. Is Ineos aware of the research being done by Sunfire GmbH to produce sythetic fuel from sustainable sources? Sunfire is one of several companies in Germany working on projects involving "power-to-gas" and "power-to-liquids". See two previous articles by Jolyon Gumbrell on this blog. Renewable energy from solar and wind power generates electricity used in an electrolysis process to convert water and carbon dioxide into methane gas. This gas in turn could be used for the feedstock for making the same products that are produced at Grangemouth.

It is a pity that Ineos could not commission one of these German companies to build a power-to-gas plant in Scotland, which would provide the feedstock for the Grangemouth plant? An investment of £640 million in the new sustainable synthetic fuel industry might produce a quicker return for Ineos, than sinking the same amount of money into fracking.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2014

Germany getting ahead with green petrol

Published on 17th November 2014 by Jolyon Gumbrell

A recent article by Daniel Wetzel published in Die Welt newspaper on 12th November 2014 entitled: "Vom Klimakiller zum Kraftstoff", which translates as "From climate killer to fuel", describes the progress made by German industry to develope an environmentally friendly synthetic fuel, which can be put in the fuel tank of a motor vehicle. See:

The article reported on a company in Dresden called Sunfire GmbH, which is developing a high-temperature electrolysis system that uses water, carbon dioxide and renewable electricity to produce synthetic fuel in a process called "power-to-liquids". Unlike the products of a traditional fossil fuel oil industry, the raw materials for these synthetic fuels are not extracted from the ground.

It has been recognised by science, that carbon dioxide enrichment of the atmosphere is a factor contributing to global warming and climate change. However, this toxic waste product could be reduced in the atmosphere, if we stopped burning fossil fuels and made use of the carbon dioxide itself as a feedstock for synthetic fuel. This is the goal of the engineers and scientists at Sunfire and the company's partners in Germany, who hope to make the new fuel an economically viable weapon in the fight against climate change. At the moment the operation to produce the fuel is still at an experimental stage, but in future the team at Sunfire hope to produce around 15,000 tonnes of fuel a month. It has been estimated that the fuel would cost around €1 per litre to produce.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2014

A new economic miracle for Europe built on renewable energy

Published on 19th August 2014 by Jolyon Gumbrell

The common threat to the economic prosperity of every member state of the European Union is a breakdown in energy supply, because we have to rely on fossil fuels in the form of oil and gas imported from regions of the world where there are wars and human rights abuses. An even greater threat - to all citizens of the world and not just to those living in Europe - is climate change caused by global warming which itself is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. How could renewable forms of energy, such as solar and wind power be developed to meet the energy needs of every EU member state?

There is a problem with renewable sources of energy such as the sun and wind: electricity can only be generated by photovoltaic solar panels when the sun is shining; or by wind turbines when the wind is blowing. Unless energy can be stored, renewable energy is unable to meet the needs of consumers at other times.

A recent article by Jasper Sky published on 2nd July 2014 on DW's website, entitled: "'Power-to-gas' may solve renewables storage challenge", describes how renewable energy can be used to produce hydrogen and mythane in a process called 'power-to-gas'. See . Electricity generated by solar panels or wind turbines need not be transferred directly into a national grid, but could be used in the electrolysis process to convert water and carbon dioxide into gas.

In the article Jasper Sky said: "In principle, the technology proposition is straightforward. Germany, like most developed countries, already has a well-developed network of pipelines and storage tanks for natural gas. Natural gas, a fossil fuel, is used to heat homes and generate electricity in gas turbines. Methane, the main component of natural gas, also serves as a basic feedstock for the petrochemical industry, which makes everything from plastics to pharmaceuticals."

Two examples were mentioned in the DW article where the power-to-gas process had been put into practice in Germany: the Audi car manufacturer has opened a six megawatt e-gas plant at Werlte in Emsland. See the Audi World webite at . According to Audi World the synthetic mythane produced at this plant: "is virtually identical to fossil natural gas and will be distributed via an existing infrastructure, the German natural gas network, to the CNG filling stations."

The other power-to-gas project mentioned in the DW article is the E.ON and Swissgas parnership at Falkenhagen near Berlin. At this plant electricity from wind power is used in the electrolysis process to produce gas that is then pumped into the existing gas network for distribution. See article on E.ON's website at .

Gradually very small e-gas production plants using power from renewable energy sources, are being put into practice by companies such as ETOGAS in Germany. Similar power-to-gas plants could soon be providing the energy needs for consumers in villages, towns and cities across Europe, as a response to the economic, environmental, and security crisis caused by our reliance on imported oil and gas. For every member state of the European Union the investment in power-to-gas technology - as a means of capturing and storing renewable energy - could lead to a new sustainable economic miracle that would free Europe from its dependence on fossil fuels.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2014

What can we learn from the history of the Wirtschaftswunder?

Published on 3rd August 2014 by Jolyon Gumbrell

The recovery of Germany after the Second World War is often referred to as the Wirtschaftswunder or economic miracle. The rebuilding of Germany was not just a matter of rebuilding the towns and cities that had been devastated during the war, but also the rebuilding of the country's economy as well as its reputation after 12 years of Nazi rule.

In April 1945 when the Americans came to arrest Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach - who was the owner and director of his family firm, the giant steel manufacturer Friedrich.Krupp - the name Krupp was synonymous with the armaments of Hitler's war machine. Immediately after the war the company and its assets were confiscated by the Americans, and in 1948 Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was convicted for war crimes and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for his role in supporting the Nazis. However, in 1951 the director was pardonned, and a decade after the end of the war he was once again leading his company, which had now re-invented itself to provide some of the products enjoyed by consumers in the German post war economic boom known as the Wirschaftswunder.

The story of the recovery and rebuilding of the Krupp company after the Second World War, is the subject of an exhibition being held at Villa Hügel, the former home of the Krupp family in Essen, Germany. The exhibition entitled: Wirstschaft! Wunder! Krupp in der Fotografie 1949 - 1967 (Economic! Miracle! Krupp in photographs from 1949 to 1967) is running from 5th July until 23rd November 2014. For further details see Although the exhibition is from the perspective of how one company in the Ruhr was making a recovery after the war: as Krupp and the region were so important economically to the new West Germany, it is also the story of the German recovery, which would ultimately lead to German re-unification after the Cold War, and Germany taking a responsible role within the EU.

When Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach invited a group of photojournalists from the Magnum photography agency to work alongside Krupp's own company photographers in the 1950s, it would have been a public relations exercise for a company that now wanted to show itself as open, modern, innovative, sophisticated as well as socially responsible. Some of these photographs are included among the 114 photographs displayed in the exhibition.

One set of photographs is interesting because it shows the day in the life of a Krupp employee. The first shot is of him sitting at the breakfast table with his wife and daughter; in another shot he is shown leaving the flat which had been provided for him by his employer, no need for a private landlord or a mortguage when you worked for Krupp; then he is seen at work in the factory performing a task with a machine tool; in the next shot a doctor is putting a bandage on the hand of the worker, presumably this is happening at a surgery on the premises of the Krupp works or at the Krupp hospital in Essen; in another photograph the Krupp employee is seen shopping with his wife in a supermarket, perhaps he is in one of Krupp's own stores.

In a seperate photograph taken a few years before the set of photographs of the day in the life of a Krupp worker, we see a group of people standing outside of the Konsum Anstalt, a shop which was built by Krupp and opened in Essen in 1951. Steel girders and frames such as the type used in the construction of this building would have been in high demand from Krupp after the war, as so many buidings now needed to be replaced that had been destroyed during the bombing raids. One of the traditional areas of production that continued after the war at the Krupp factories, was the building of steel wheels for railway locamotives and railway carriages. Again probably most of the orders for these were to replace rolling stock that had been destroyed during the war. New products such as a Krupp motor scooter, and a washing machine were shown off at trade fairs.

For the Krupp firm the miracle of the recovery would have been that the firm itself could once again operate and then become profitable, after a loss of 70 percent of its production plants during wartime bombing. It is certain that the success of the firm could not have been achieved by Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach alone, without the help and hard work of Krupp's thousands of workers, including his mother Bertha Krupp, and his deputy Berthold Beitz. Are there any lessons that we can learn today from this economic miracle of recovery?

When I visited Villa Hügel on 19th July 2014, most of the park surrounding the big house was out of bounds to the public, following severe storm damage caused to many trees on the estate. The ferocity of the storm damage in the region had previously been brought to my attention at the end of June, when I arrived in Düsseldorf for a German language course. Although the storm had taken place on 9th June, teams of workmen were still clearing up the damaged trees that had been broken or uprooted. As with the grounds of Villa Hügel in Essen, much of the Hofgarten in Düsseldorf was still closed to the public weeks after the storm, because the debris from hundreds of broken trees still needed to be removed. The destruction of so many trees in these parks, reminded me of an old photograph I had once seen of trees that had been destroyed by the bombing of the Tiergarten in Berlin during the Second World War.

The economic miracle for Germany after the Second World War was a positive response to the terrible destruction caused by the war. The question that we all face today, not just in Germany, but also the whole world is how we respond to the destruction caused by climate change?

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2014

Reconstruction of car accident that seriously injured Vice-President of the European Parliament

Published on 12th September 2013 by Jolyon Gumbrell

Late on Friday night 6th September 2013, police closed a section of the A1 motorway - near to the Leverkusen interchange in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany - in order to reconstruct a fatal road accident of 22nd February 2013, in which Alexander Alvaro, a Vice-President of the European Parliament was seriously injured. The aim of the exercise was to find out exactly what happened by simulating the chain of events, that took the life of a 21 year old man from Münster and seriously injured three other people including Alexander Alvaro.Before the reconstruction took place, it had been announced that a section of motorway would be closed between Burscheid and Leverkusen in the direction of travel towards Cologne. According to media reports the motorway was closed for three hours from 11 pm on Friday 6th September untill 2 am on Saturday 7th September, while investigators recreated the scene of the accident.

The story of Alexander Alvaro's car crash has received much attention in the German media, and the reconstruction - which was ordered by the Cologne public prosecutor's office - was initially attended by journalists, photographers and film crews, while the scene of February's accident was being recreated. However, once all the equipment and props were in place - including a scrap Opal Vectra representing the vehicle the 21 year old man from Münster had been driving, and a black Audi A8 representing the vehicle Alexander Alvaro was in - police made journalists and spectators leave the scene, while the investigators worked on the accident simulation.

From the descriptions, photographs and films in the German media: it appears that the Opal Vectra had overturned and was lying on its roof in the fast lane of the motorway, shortly before Mr Alvaro's Audi A8 collided with the Opal. According to an article on the website, there is no speed limit on the motorway where the accident took place.

Further information on the reconstruction and investigation into Alexander Alvaro's road accident can be seen at:,15189132,24240446.html

Also the WDR video of the reconstruction can be seen at:

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2013

German pub landlords in revolt over increases in Sky sport charges

Published on 6th August 2013 by Jolyon Gumbrell

Many local newspapers in Germany - such as the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger in Cologne - have reported the anger of German pub landlords, caused by Sky's decision to raise subscription charges for televised sport. This comes at a time when many of the small pubs and restaurants in Germany are struggling to survive. For many of these establishments the only option is to cancel their subscriptions for televised sport with Sky.

In an article - of which the title translates into English as: 'Furious publicans terminate Sky subscriptions', published on the website of the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger on 2nd August 2013 - it was estimated that around 400 pubs and restaurants in Cologne are allowed to be called Sky-Sportsbars. See,15187530,23898672.html. All of these establishments are subscribers to sports broadcasting services provided by Sky, which allow audiences of customers in the Sky-Sportsbars to watch Bundesliga football matches between the big German football clubs such as 1.FC Köln and Bayern München. The concept of bringing a big audience into a bar to watch an important football match, has in the past been popular in Germany as it has in most countries around the world.

The article in the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger mentioned the case of Bernhard Leber, known as Bernie to locals, landlord of the Weimarer Stübchen in Höhenberg, an eastern suburb of Cologne, who was forced to cancel his Sky subscription when the monthly charge rose from 189 Euros including tax to 279 Euros plus tax. Bernie said he would have to triple his turnover in order to make a clear profit to pay for his Sky subscription. In the interview with the newspaper he was quoted as saying he could not sell as much Kölsch beer as that.

Anger over the hike in Sky's subscription charges was also reported on the website of the Berliner Morgenpost on 30th July, under the title which translates into English as: 'Berlin publicans defend themselves against Sky price increases'. See

Kundigen is one word that seems to dominate German media coverage of the Sky price rises. The German word kundigen means to cancel, terminate, or give in ones notice, and that is precisely what many German pub landlords are doing with their Sky subscriptions. There may be many reasons - such as austere times and demographic changes - as to why televised football matches in pubs no longer attract the large audiences they once did, but if Sky is interested in maintaining its central European customer base then these hikes are very inauspicious.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2013

The solar trade dispute

Published on 17th June 2013

The recent anti-dumping tariffs imposed by the EU on imported solar panel components from China, highlights a crisis not only in trade relations between Europe and China, but also the divisions within the renewable energy sector in Europe. Within Europe's solar panel industry, there appears to be two conflicting interests between the producers of the panels and the installers of the panels.

In July 2012 EU Pro Sun, a trade association complained to the EU about Chinese manufacturers of solar panels, cells, and wafers who were dumping their products on the European market and thus undercutting the European producers. Dumping occurs if a company is selling its products abroad at prices, which are less than the prices the company would have to charge in its home market. Dumping at below the market price can happen if the exporters - in this case the Chinese solar component manufacturers - are subsidized by their own government. In a press release ref IP/13/501 of 4th June 2013, the European Commission said:

Highly innovative EU companies are currently being exposed to immediate threats of bankruptcy because of unfair competition from Chinese exporters, who have taken over more than 80% of the EU market and whose production capacity currently amounts to 150% of global consumption. In 2012, China’s excess capacity was almost double total EU demand. The Commission’s assessment indicates that imposing provisional measures will not only secure the existing 25,000 jobs in EU solar production, but also create new jobs in the sector.

The European Commission imposed tariffs on the imports of Chinese solar panel components after an investigation into the solar market. The tariffs imposed were provisional as explained in the Commission's press release IP/13/501 which said:

The duties will be imposed in two stages, starting with 11.8% for the first two months and followed by 47.6% for another four months to alleviate the harm that is caused to the European industry by this unfair trade practice, dumping. In total, this provisional duty will be in place for a maximum of 6 months.

However, these tariffs have not been welcomed by many of the companies in Europe that are involved in the installation process of solar panels. In the United Kingdom the Solar Trade Association (STA) has warned that the increase in costs as a result of the tariffs, will adversely affect its members' businesses. In a press release published on 6th June 2013 on STA's website entitled 'EU anti-dumping provisional duties - STA fact sheet update' it said:

As Europe currently imports approximately 70% of its solar panels from China, the net result is likely to be higher install prices to the end customer, which will suppress demand. This will have a significantly negative effect on solar jobs and PV deployment across Europe. The STA along with AFASE and many other PV companies across the European PV supply chain do not support any form of duties on imported products. A majority of 18:4 European Countries agree with this sentiment, so these provisional duties come as a body blow. Safeguarding 8,000 manufacturing jobs at EU ProSun and its supporters or even 25,000 manufacturing jobs at all EU solar producers overall whilst jeopardising 200,000 jobs makes no sense. Europe needs solar growth to capture its share of the 15% 2020 renewables targets. With reducing financial support from governments, growth is dependent on cost effective deployment, utilising economies of scale currently available from only a few countries such as China.

The STA is correct to be concerned that tariffs will suddenly cause a hike in the cost of the components used by solar panel installers. However, if the EU did nothing to help save the manufacturing sector of Europe's solar panel industry, then in a short time the Chinese would have a complete monopoly over the supply of the components needed by European solar industry. It may have been easier if the EU had not imposed these tariffs, but the market would be far less competitive if it was dominated by the Chinese government. The cheapness of supply that is required by Europe's solar panel installers could not be guaranteed once the last European manufacturer is put out of business by dumping. Although there may be thousands of factories in China that can produce solar panel components cheaply, competition within the market would not be guaranteed - if those suppliers acted as a cartel to raise prices, or the Chinese government used the solar panel industry in China to place political leverage on Europe by raising the price of solar panels, cells, and wafers – this at a time when Europe is in need of a secure renewable energy source through the generation of electricity from the sun.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2013

Fifteen minutes to make a decision on Europe

Published on 20th July 2012 by Jolyon Gumbrell

Many of the Eurosceptic Tories would like David Cameron to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. The Eurosceptics feel certain that if the question was put to the British public, the public would vote with a massive majority to withdraw the United Kingdom from the EU. The Eurosceptics are confident they have the support of powerful sections of the popular press behind them, such as The Sun, the Daily Express, and many commentators who write for the Daily Mail.

According to an article by Tom Newton-Dunn published in The Sun on 9th July 2012 entiled ‘EU have to fight NOW, PM’ - see: - two thirds of respondents to a YouGov survey wanted a referendum. Of the participants in the survey Newton-Dunn said: “Almost half - 48 per cent - would pull out [of the EU] if given a choice today, versus 31 per cent who want to stay in.”

This survey might give The Sun’s readers the impression that the United Kingdom is a “eurosceptic country”, but the survey can only truly represent the opinions gathered by YouGov, although it is likely that the survey is fairly accurate of public opinion. If the population of a country has an opinion on a subject such as the UK’s membership of the EU, then that opinion is dependent on the information people receive from the media on that subject. If people have no understanding of the workings of the EU, and their only source of information comes from eurosceptic newspapers, then it is obvious that public opinion will be hostile towards the EU.

If the public were given the chance to become better informed about benefits - such as consumer protection which is derived from Brussels - then they might decide it would be in their interest for the UK to remain a member of the EU. The European Commission has been on the side of British consumers when it comes to mobile phone tariffs. Information concerning a recent cap on mobile roaming charges can be seen on the European Commission’s website at This press release announces an EU regulation, which caps the amount mobile phone companies can charge their customers while travelling in other EU member states. The maximum rates that mobile phone users can be charged were quoted as follows: “29 cents per minute to make a call plus VAT; 8 cents per minute to receive a call, plus VAT; 9 cents to send a text message, plus VAT; 70 cents per Megabyte (MB) to download data or browse the Internet whilst travelling abroad (charged per Kilobyte used), plus VAT.”

Some Eurosceptics who believe in a Thatcherite free market ideology would argue that regulating the cost of mobile phone calls is an interference in the workings of the market by European government. They would detest such regulation arguing that competition between the mobile phone companies is the only way to bring prices down. These Eurosceptics would say the mobile phone customers should change their mobile phone service providers and move to a cheaper supplier if necessary. However, what the Eurosceptics tend to forget is that fair competition usually only occurs, if there is a referee to watch over the market. There may only be a handful of mobile phone companies with billions of euros of capital at their disposal, operating across the entire geographical area of Europe. These phone companies have it in their power to act as a cartel and fix their charges amongst themselves at an extortionate rate, unless the European Commission has the power to step in and stop them, on behalf of consumers living in the 27 Member States of the European Union. The recent cap on mobile roaming charges is an example of how the European Commission has acted as a referee to prevent EU citizens being ripped off by the mobile phone companies.

Eurosceptics often try to scare the British public with stories of the European Commission being undemocratic, as its Commissioners are unelected. In the sense of being appointed rather than elected: European Commissioners are rather like Peers in the House of Lords in the United Kingdom’s Parliament, which is a weakness in democracy. However, the European Parliament is democratically elected every five years by citizens of the EU’s Member States. The European Parliament does have the power to put pressure on the Commission whenever necessary. This is written into the Lisbon Treaty which can be seen at

It is worth looking at Article 9D(8) of the Lisbon Treaty which states: “The Commission, as a body, shall be responsible to the European Parliament. In accordance with Article 201 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the European Parliament may vote on a motion of censure of the Commission. If such a motion is carried, the members of the Commission shall resign as a body and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall resign from the duties that he carries out in the Commission.”

One of the very positive and democratic movements emanating from the EU - something that the British eurosceptic press might not have told its readers about - is the European Citizens Initiative. More details of the European Citizens Initiative can be seen at The Citizens Initiative is the means by which one million EU citizens from at least seven EU Member States can ask the European Commission to propose legislation. This scheme is open to all British citizens, as it is open to all citizens from any Member State of the European Union. It is a way that citizens from different parts of Europe can be brought together, to deal with common problems affecting many people across Europe. If the United Kingdom pulled out of the EU, then the British people would no longer have the opportunity to participate in this scheme.

Many of The Sun’s readers work hard in low paid service sector jobs. Unfortunately, they don’t have time to become acquainted with the inner workings of the EU. They might only have about 15 minutes a day to read The Sun during their lunch or tea break, and rely on that newspaper to keep them informed. However, The Sun - like other eurosceptic tabloids - often fails to inform its readership of the benefits for working class people of the UK belonging to the EU. If people are kept in the dark about many of the rights the EU has given citizens, then people are liable to vote against their own interests and pull Britain out of the EU at a referendum.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012

The shortcomings of a Eurosceptic editorial policy

Published on 10th July 2012 by Jolyon Gumbrell

On 13th June 2012 the Daily Express made a gamble that the EU would be more unpopular with its readership than the United Kingdom’s banking sector, when the newspaper published an article by Macer Hall on its website entitled: “NOW EU WANTS TO GRAB CONTROL OF BRITISH BANKS”. This article can be seen at . The article was critical of proposed new powers that would allow the EU to regulate the banks, as well as being critical of what it described as “a swingeing new financial tax”. This article was not just a vitriolic criticism of the EU, but also a criticism of creating any kind of mechanism that would effectively regulate Britain’s financial sector.

When the article was published on 13th June the editorial staff at the Daily Express could not have predicted the extent of the IT systems failure at RBS and its subsidiary banks NatWest and Ulster Bank, or the revelations of the Libor fixing fraud at Barclays Bank and other leading banks. However the newspaper would have been aware of the PPI mis-selling scandal - which is likely to have affected many of its readers - as well as the financial crisis which became first apparent in 2007 around the time the Northern Rock bank got itself into trouble. The Daily Express was therefore arrogant to assume that its readership would not want to see effective regulation of the UK’s banking sector, even if that regulation was to come from Europe.

The article did not explain to its readers why it is necessary for the EU to regulate banks within EU Member States - the reason for more stringent regulation is because there has been a massive failure of the global financial system, as a result of corruption, greed, and incompetence by some of the individuals who run the financial institutions. Although the UK is not in the Eurozone, it is still suffering from the same problems as other EU Member States in that tax payers money has been used to bail out failed banks, which has exacerbated the sovereign debt crisis, leading to a wider economic crisis. To break this cycle the EU must have more control over the banks, which should include sanctions such as the power to prosecute banking officials involved in fraud.

The Daily Express’s article quoted the Eurosceptic Tory MP, Peter Bone as saying: “The political elite of Europe are completely barking and out of touch with ordinary citizens. The sooner the euro collapses and the European Union breaks up the better.”

From this remark Mr Bone shows himself to be both barking and out of touch with ordinary citizens, because if the euro collapsed and the European Union broke up, the EU’s internal market would also break up, creating even more mass unemployment which in turn would stoke up old nationalist hatreds. This in itself would kill Britain’s export market to Europe and create even more unemployment at home. The break up of the EU could also lead to another world war emanating from Europe.

The Daily Express’s article did not give its readers any specific details of what it described as the “swingeing new financial tax”, perhaps because if its readers were better informed they might actually support the tax. This tax is probably the financial transaction tax (FTT) which has also been called the Robin Hood Tax. The European Commission proposed this tax on 28th September 2011. In a press release of that day ref: IP/11/1085, the European Commission gave its reason for the tax as follows:

First, to ensure that the financial sector makes a fair contribution at a time of fiscal consolidation in the Member States. The financial sector played a role in the origins of the economic crisis. Governments and European citizens at large have borne the cost of massive taxpayer-funded bailouts to support the financial sector. Furthermore, the sector is currently under-taxed by comparison to other sectors. The proposal would generate significant additional tax revenue from the financial sector to contribute to public finances.

Second, a coordinated framework at EU level would help to strengthen the EU single market. Today, 10 Member States have a form of a financial transaction tax in place. The proposal would introduce new minimum tax rates and harmonise different existing taxes on financial transactions in the EU.. This will help to reduce competitive distortions in the single market, discourage risky trading activities and complement regulatory measures aimed at avoiding future crises. The financial transaction tax at EU level would strengthen the EU's position to promote common rules for the introduction of such a tax at global level, notably through the G20.

The FTT which is not applicable to pension funds has rates of 0.1% for shares and bonds, and 0.01% for derivatives. The tax was approved by the European Parliament on 23rd May 2012. The Daily Express might want its readers to believe that the EU is costly for British citizens, but if people do a little research for themselves they might find that the institutions of the EU are actually on the citizens’ side. For many people the pain of being ripped off by the banks, would have focused their minds on the shortcomings of the Daily Express’s Eurosceptic editorial policy.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012

Arundells: The former home of the Prime Minister who brought Britain into the European Community

Review by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 3rd August 2012

The historic house of Arundells in the Cathedral Close, Salisbury is a special place for anyone interested in Europe’s history, as it was once the home of Sir Edward Heath (1916 - 2005), the Prime Minister who brought Britain into the European Community.  Sir Edward lived there from 1985 until his death in 2005 and the house contains his personal effects including antiques, an art collection, memorabilia from his political career and items associated with his hobbies of music and sailing.

The house also has a much older historical context dating back to the Middle Ages, having originally been a canonry and the home of Henry of Blunston, Archdeacon of Dorset who lived there between 1291 and 1316.  The house has been much altered over the centuries, its classical frontage dates from the time it was occupied by John Wyndham who acquired a lease for the property in 1718.  The house is called Arundells because it later became the home of James Everad Arundel, who married John Wyndham’s daughter Ann in 1752.

The contents of the house tell the story of Sir Edward Heath’s life.  There is a Steinway Grand piano in the Drawing Room, on top of which are a number of photographs of world leaders and royalty.  One of these photographs is of George Pompidou, who in 1971 was the President of France with whom Edward Heath negotiated the United Kingdom’s entry into the EEC (European Economic Community).  While Britain’s entry into the EEC - which is today known as the European Union or EU - would have been one of the most controversial policy decions of Edward Heath’s premiership during the early 1970s, he should also be remembered for the many other achievements in his life.

Edward Heath was born at Broadstairs in Kent in 1916 and later attended Chatham House grammar school in Ramsgate.  One of the paintings in Sir Edward’s art collection is called ‘Broadstairs’ by Sir Robert Ponsonby-Staples, where three women and a man are depicted looking out to sea towards the distant coastline of Belgium and France.  Perhaps he bought this painting because it reminded him of his childhood.  The painting poses a question about its former owner: did Edward Heath develope a fascination for Continental Europe as a boy because of his awareness of its closeness to his childhood home?  In another painting in Sir Edward’s collection called ‘Girl on a Jetty’ by Antoin Plee, a young woman is depicted standing on a jetty looking out to sea through a pair of binoculars.  In this painting the white cliffs of a distant coastline are visible on the horizon.  Perhaps the girl in this painting is in France looking across the Channel towards England?

During the 1930s Edward Heath attended Balliol College, Oxford as an organ scholar.  While a student at Oxford, he recognised the danger Adolf Hitler and the Nazis posed to Europe.  Although Heath was a Conservative, in October 1938 he campaigned on behalf of the anti-Munich candidate, A.D.Lindsay, Master of Balliol College, against the official Conservative candidate Quintin Hogg in the Oxford by-election.  Hogg supported Neville Chamberlaine and the Munich Agreement.  The Munich Agreement was seen as a capitulation to Nazis aggression, so Heath campaigned under the slogan: “A vote for Hogg is a vote for Hitler”.  (See Chronicle of the 20th Century, 1989, p.502)

During the Second World War he served as an army officer in the Royal Artillery.  After the war he became a civil servant with the Ministry of Aviation, before resigning from his job in order to stand as a candidate for Parliament for Bexley.  He served Bexley as an MP from 1950 until his retirement in 2001.  By the time of his retirement from the House of Commons, his constituency of Bexley had become Old Bexly and Sidcup.

During the 1950s and 1960s Heath served the governments of Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, and Sir Alec Douglas-Home.  His political career advanced from serving the government as a Parliamentary whip through to becoming the Minister of Labour in 1959.  A Cabinet reshuffle by Harold Macmillan in July 1960 gave Heath the job of Lord Privy Seal, which meant he was the spokesman in the House of Commons for the Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home.  Foreign policy under the Macmillan government was marked by the process of decolonisation, the Cold War, and an attempt to join the EEC.

In 1961 Macmillan gave Heath the task of negotiating Britain’s entry into the EEC, but by January 1963 President Charles de Gaule of France had blocked Britain’s entry to that organisation.  Throughout the negotiations of bringing Britain into Europe, Heath had the almost imposible task of trying to reconcile the trading interests of the Commonwealth with those of the European Common Market.  However, Heath recognised that Britain was no longer an imperial power, and the country would have to forge new relationships with Europe as well as former colonies.  He saw the new supranational organisation of the EEC would create common economic interests in Europe, which would make war less likely between the member states of the EEC.  It would not be until Heath became Prime Minister in 1970, that he would once again get the opportunity to negotiate Britain’s entry into the EEC, this time he would be more successful.

The signing of Britain’s entry into the EEC by Edward Heath in January 1972 could be viewed by history as the high point of his premiership.  Britain’s entry into the EEC is something that went well for a government which had to adapt itself to changing events and a number of setbacks.  Before coming to power in 1970, Heath had a fairly right wing free market policy agenda for government.  The Tory historian Robert Blake in his book ‘The Conservative Party from Peel to Major’ described Heath’s manifesto as follows: “The main themes were: lower direct taxation; less government interference; reduction in public expenditure; selectivity in the social services and a shift of the burden from the Treasury to the employers; legislation to restrain the power of the unions; and entry into the EEC.  Negatively its message was no less important; it said little or nothing about an incomes policy or a national economic plan.”

The first setback to Heath’s government was the death of Iain Macleod just a month after the Cnservatives had won the general election.  Macleod had just been appointed Chancellor, and was the man who would have put Heath’s economic plans into practice.  Another problem for Heath’s government came when Rolls-Royce went bankrupt in February 1971.  Ideologically the Tories did not believe in the government saving companies that were in difficulty, but Heath was a pragmatist recognising that putting the workforce of Rolls-Royce on the dole - along with the loss of skills and talent to the British economy - would be far more expensive for the taxpayer than government intervention.  The aero-engine division of the company was therefore nationalised by the Heath government, while the luxury car manufacturer was sold to a private investor.

An energy crisis which began in October 1973 would ultimately bring down Heath’s government.  When the OPEC nations cut oil production and raised the price of oil as a result of the Yom Kippur War, petrol prices in the United Kingdom rose while petrol shortages forced the British government to plan for petrol rationing.  For the government and the country the problem of the oil crisis was exacerbated by a coal miners strike in December 1973, which caused power cuts across the country as most power stations were coal fired in those days.  Edward Heath called a general election in February 1974 under the slogan “Who runs Britain?”  He probably hoped the electorate would blame the miners for taking advantage of the oil crisis as a bargaining lever to get a better pay deal.  However, the Tories did not gain a majority in the election of 28th February 1973.  Heath was unable to form a coalition with the Liberals and had to concede defeat to Labour’s Harold Wilson a few days later.

After the election defeat of February 1974 Heath would never serve in government again.  Many commentators have written about the antipathy between Heath and Margaret Thatcher, who would succeed him as leader of the Conservative Party in 1975 and as Prime Minister in 1979.  When Heath moved to Arundells in Salisbury in 1985, he would have been aware that Thatcher had no intention of offering him a ministerial post in her government.  However, in 1992 his lifetime service to the country was recognised when the Queen appointed him a Knight of the Garter and he became Sir Edward Heath.

Sir Edward Heath’s Will states that Arundells should be open to the public, for which purpose the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation was set up.  The first charitable object of the Trust as recognised by the Charity Commission is “the preservation and conservation of Arundells and its associated amenities as a building both of special architectural and historical interest being the home of Sir Edward Heath”.  The second charitable object of the Trust is “the preservation of the furniture pictures memorabilia and chattels ordinarily kept at Arundells (excepting such items the trustees consider inappropriate) and such of any other furniture pictures memorabilia and chattels as shall form part of the Charitable Trust and which the Trustees consider appropriate to preserve”.  The third charitable object specifically mentions that Sir Edward Heath’s papers should be administered, maintained and preserved.  Sir Edward would have realised that his papers not only told the story of his own life, but also that they were an important source for future historians of Britain’s post war history.  This may have also been the reason why he made the fourth charitable object of the Trust “the advancement of education by the facilitation and access to and the study and appreciation of Arundells and its contents by the general public”.

If Sir Edward had not pursued a political career, he could have easily made his living as a concert pianist or the conductor of an orchestra.  Sir Edward’s love of music is remembered in the fifth charitable object of the Trust, which is “the advancement of education of the public in the artistic appreciation of music by the promotion development or improvement whether at Arundells or elsewhere of the knowledge understanding and practice of all forms of music and the performance recording study composition instruction or training in all forms of music”.

Unfortunately since Sir Edward’s death in 2005, not all of the trustees have been committed to upholding Sir Edward’s wishes and the objects of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation.  Some of the trustees did not want Arundells open to the public.  The trustees applied to the Charity Commission for a scheme to sell Arundells and the contents of the house.  The trustees claimed that the cost of maintaining the house is greater than the income it can generate from paying visitors.  However on 26th September 2011 the Charity Commission refused the trustees’ scheme to sell off Arundells and its contents.  A report of the Charity Commission’s decision was published on the website of the Friends of Arundells which said: “the reviewer is not satisfied that the trustees have properly identified and explored the range of alternative ways of generating income”.

Arundells as an historic house would not be open to the public today without the tireless dedication of The Friends of Arundells, many of whom volunteer as guides, stewards and gardeners.  The Friends of Arundells have also fought to keep Arundells open to the public and the contents of the house intact.  They drew up a business plan to show how Arundells and its garden could increase revenue by drawing more paying visitors.  According to the plan, revenue could be increased by extending Arundells opening season and extending the opening days each week from four to five, as well as hiring out the grounds to film makers and hosting corporate events.

It is difficult to understand why the trustees are so keen to close Arundells when the main purpose of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation is to keep the house open for the nation.  It appears that some of the trustees would like to have the memory of the former Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath erased from the public consciousness.  The story of Sir Edward Heath’s life is not just an important part of the history of the British Isles, but also belongs to the heritage of Europe and the world.  Arundells as a living museum in Salisbury could attract many visitors both from within the UK and overseas, who would want to understand more about the man who brought Britain into Europe.

Details of visiting times to Arundells can be seen at while further details of the Friends of Arundells can be seen at .

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012

Jolyon Gumbrell writes for Ideas on Europes

Jolyon Gumbrell the editor of Jolyon’s Review has recently started to write a blog for Ideas on Europe.  His first article on this blog is called ‘The shortcomings of a Eurosceptic editorial policy’ and can be seen at  Although Jolyon hopes to be a regular contibutor to Ideas on Europe, it is also his intention to continue to write for and edit Jolyon’s Review.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012

Cheaper mobile roaming: Something the Eurosceptics won’t mention

Comment by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 3rd July 2012

On 28th June 2012 a press release appeared on the European Commission’s website at announcing an EU regulation, which caps the amount mobile phone companies can charge their customers while travelling in other EU member states.  The maximum rates that mobile phone users can be charged were quoted as follows: “29 cents per minute to make a call plus VAT; 8 cents per minute to receive a call, plus VAT; 70 cents per Megabyte (MB) to download data or browse the Internet whilst travelling abroad (charged per Kilobyte used), plus VAT.”

Ofcom, the United Kingdom’s telecommunications regulator said on its own website: “We have worked closely with Government and regulators in Europe on how best to deal with the issue of high international roaming prices.”

The price regulation of roaming throughout the EU - that came into force on 1st July 2012 - is an example of the type of regulation, which benefits the British consumer as well as consumers in other EU member states.  Many of the Eurosceptics - who want to pull Britain out of the EU - do not want to mention this type of regulation which protects the interests of British consumers, as the Eurosceptics do not want the British public to be aware of anything positive that comes out of Brussels.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012

Should Britain have a Europhile press?

Comment by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 29th June 2012.

If the British public are Eurosceptic, are they so because of the influence of the media in the United Kingdom, or are they Eurosceptic for other reasons?  It has not been difficult to find a Eurosceptic slant on current affairs in the British press over the years, both in broadsheet and tabloid newspapers.  Take for instance the memorable front page article that appeared in The Sun on 1st November 1990 entitled ‘Up Yours Delors’, which directed scorn at the then President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors.  The editorship of The Sun would say that the paper’s Eurosceptic slant is a reflection of the views of its readership, rather than just the views of Rupert Murdoch, the director of that publication’s parent company News Corporation.

In the past The Sun has been keen to emphasise the Eurosceptic nature of its readership.  It did this on 25th April 1996 with the headline: “47,000 of EU back a vote! - EU the Jury”.  The headline referred to a telephone poll carried out by The Sun, that found 47,481 respondents wanted a referendum on Europe against 1,237 who did not.  Support for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU (European Union) was not necessariliy a sign of Euroscepticism, as some of the respondents who wanted a referendum may have voted for Britain to stay in the EU if such a referendum had been organised.

Calls for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU have often been made by Eurosceptic commentators and politicians, who believe that the British public would vote to pull Britain out of the EU.  However, if the public truly understood what would be lost by withdrawing from the EU, then it is likely a sizeable majority of the British people would vote to stay in the EU if they were given referendum.  Unfortunately many of the Eurosceptic commontators fail to talk about the serious consequences of the United Kingdom leaving the EU, one of which would be a loss of the freedom for British citizens to live and work in another EU Member State.  If Britain withdrew from the EU it would make life more complicated for all of those British citizens who have retired to France, Spain, and other Member States of the EU.

With so many British newspaper publications being so hostile to the European Union, a new newspaper aimed at a mass circulation readership with a Europhile editorial policy would provide a critical balance to much of the Eurosceptic dogma that appears in the British media.  This would enable the British public to make informed choices about Europe, and also show people living in the United Kingdom how they could benefit personally and as a community by engaging with the EU’s institutions.  Perhaps the British people would become the most enthusiastic of all Europeans towards the goal of European integration, if they understood more about it?

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012

Review of Parlamentarium, The European Parliament’s Visitors’ Centre in Brussels

by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 27th April 2012

The Parlamentarium is both a visitor centre informing the public about the workings of the European Parliament, as well as a museum tracing the history of European integration.  It is the ideal place to visit if you want to understand more about why institutions were formed shortly after the Second World War, that would bring Europe’s people and nations closer together.

On entering the exhibition area, visitors are lent hand held multimedia devices, which can be listened to in any one of the European Union’s 23 official languages.  These devices interact with many of the displays and exhibits, to give additional commentary on the various themes dealt with in the Parlamentarium: from the horror and destruction of two world wars, to Robert Schuman’s plan to form the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1950, right up until the present day, where the process of a debate in plenary session in the European Parliament is explained.

The forerunner of the European Parliament was the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community founded in 1952.  The Common Assembly was then renamed the European Parliamentary Assembly in 1958, eventually becoming the European Parliament in 1962.  In 1979 the European Parliament became a representative assembly in the democratic sense, when citizens of Member States of the European Community got the chance to elect their MEPs for the first time.  Elections are held across Europe for MEPs once every five years, the next European Parliamentary election will be 2014.

The ethos behind the Parlamentarium is to show European citizens from the Member States, how the European Parliament can be made to work to improve their lives.  The Parlamentarium is aimed at people of all ages, but especially children and young people who are the future of Europe.

As Europe is becoming more integrated, then the European Parliament will need to become more assertive to challenge the power of the European Commission.  The European Parliament already has the responsibility of scrutinising the Commission’s budget, but the Commission could become more democratically accountable if elected MEP’s were appointed as European Commissioners, instead of the present system where European Commissioners are appointed by the government ministers of Member States.  It is an inevitable consequence of the sovereign debt crisis - affecting many Member States of the European Union - that the European Commission will need to become more involved in the management of Member States’ economies.  The consequences of the eurozone and the European Union breaking up are too horrific to contemplate.  However, as the Commission becomes more powerful, it will have to become more transparent and publically accountable.  One way to do that is to give the European Parliament the power to appoint its own MEPs as Commissioners.  As MEPs are themselves elected, then the European Parliamentary elections would also become the elections for choosing a new European Commission once every five years.  This idea of elected European Commissioners is my own, and is not mentioned anywhere in the Parlamentarium but could become the subject of a future debate.

The Parlamentarium is an interesting place to visit on a Monday afternoon, when most of the other museums in Brussels are closed.  Further details about the Parlamentarium can be seen on the European Parliament’s website at

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012

Europe: not austerity but solidarity!

Comment by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 2nd March 2012

The speech which Martin Schulz - the President of the European Parliament - made to the Greek Parliament on Tuesday 28th February 2012 went largely unreported in the British media, but one day it may be remembered as something significant on Europe’s journey towards integration.  It was a bridge building speech which offered something better than the chaos that would ensue if the eurozone was allowed to breakup.  Schulz’s speech offered Greece direct help from Europe to invest in Greek infrastructure and rebuild the country’s economy.

Schulz spoke of the weaknesses in the global financial system, which had contributed to the sovereign debt crisis in Greece and other EU countries, saying: “There is no doubt that unregulated financial markets are part of the problem.  In recent months the euro has repeatedly come under pressure from speculators willing to bet on the collapse of the eurozone by attacking what they regard as the weakest link.”

Schulz recognised the need for strong regulation and strong supervision of financial markets.  He said: “We need a financial transaction tax at long last.  It is a simple matter of justice that the people who caused the crisis should contribute to the cost of resolving it.”

Schulz was unhappy that the Greek people were suffering as a result of the austerity measures imposed on Greece, as a condition of the €130 billion EU and IMF bailout loan.  He said: “Europe is not a community based on austerity - Europe is a community based on solidarity!”

He indicated that the way out of austerity for the Greek people and other Citizens of Europe would be through the European Cohesion Fund, which would invest directly in infrastructure such as road building and renewable energy projects to create jobs.

Schulz distanced himself from those who want to impose dangerous levels of austerity on Greece.  He said: “It cannot be fair that the weakest members of society should be required to bear the largest share of the burden of economic recovery.”

He warned that it was the duty of Greeks to pay their taxes in order to sustain Greek society, and stop there being a complete economic collapse.

Schulz’s speech could be compared to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s historic inaugural speech made to the American people in March 1933.  Roosevelt said: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. . . The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilisation.  We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths.”

During the 1930s Roosevelt gave a clear message to the financial speculators on Wall Street, that they would not be allowed to breakup the union of the United States of America.  Likewise in 2012, Martin Schulz gave a clear message to the financial speculators in London, Paris and Frankfurt, that they would not be allowed to breakup the eurozone.

©Jolyon Gumbrell

An English translation of Martin Schulz’s speech can be seen at:

Düsseldorf carnival float depicts Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel in an intimate position

by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 23rd February 2012

On 20th February 2012 Rosenmontag was celebrated in many cities, towns and villages in Germany.  Rosenmontag literally translates as Roses Monday but also means Shrove Monday, which marks the end of the carnival season and the beginning of Lent.  The tradition of celebrating carnival in cities such as Cologne and Düsseldorf goes back to the Middle Ages, however the origins of these festivals are pagan and go back much further in time than the Christian era.

The carnival procession on Rosenmontag is an opportunity for citizens to mock those with wealth and power.  This year a carnival float in Düsseldorf depicted the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy in an intimate embrace with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.  The Sarkozy effigy was wearing a Napoleonic hat while the Merkerl effigy was wearing a Prussian helmet.  On another float the disgraced, recently resigned former president of Germany, Christian Wulff was represented as a fallen German eagle.  The eagle which was upside-down, had lost most of its feathers and looked more like a plucked turkey than an eagle.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012

Source References

Bones found in Berlin flat

by Jolyon Gumbrell, published on 16th February 2012

Police in Berlin are still unable to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the death of a person whose remains were discovered in a Berlin flat on Friday 10th February 2012.  It is thought that the remains of a 56 year old man, had lain undiscovered for more than a year, in the filthy flat in the Neukölln district of Berlin.  The tenant who had lived in the flat had not been seen for a long time.

According to an article published on the website of B.Z. am Sonntag, the neighbours had complained of a stink coming from the flat which contained piles of periodicals, cardboard boxes and household rubbish.  On the day human remains were discovered there, workers from the housing authority were in the process of clearing out the flat.

Following a post-mortem of the remains, a police homicide squad was called in to investigate the death as being a possible murder.  Police are looking for the whereabouts of a woman recently seen by neighbours going in and out of the flat.  It is thought she might be a vital witness in the case.

The story of the grim discovery of human remains in a Berlin flat, gained the attention of the German media, being reported in the Kölner Stadt Anzeiger and Berliner Morgenpost as well as B.Z. am Sonntag.  In some respects this case is similar to that of Joyce Vincent, whose body had lain undiscovered in a London flat for more than two years.  It raises awareness of people living lonely lives in big cities, who have lost touch with their closest relatives.  The story of Joyce Vincent’s life was investigated by the film director Carol Morely and became the subject of a film called Dreams of a Life.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2012

20th October 2008

Why do people cry in silence?

On 26th September 2008 a woman for the first time in 19 years, returned to her childhood village of Salomé not far from the city of Lille in northern France.  Her name is Ida Beaussart and the circumstances of her life in a house in the village, became the subject of a film called Pleure en Silence (Cry in Silence).

Jean-Claude Beaussart was a violent neo-nazi, who had been convicted and served eight months in prison, for inciting racial hatred in relation to the murder of a Tunisian in 1984.  Pleure en Silence, focuses on the last eight days of Jean-Claude Beaussart’s life in July 1989, as the physical attacks he inflicted on his family became more violent.  Ida was then 17 years old, and had sustained abuse from her father for years, but it reached the point where she could take no more.   Her own survival and that of her mother and siblings were in danger because of her father’s behaviour.  It was at this point in July 1989, that Ida took her father’s pistol and shot him dead while he was asleep.

In 1992, Ida was acquitted of the murder of her father when a court took into account the circumstances of the case.  She has since rebuilt her life and is now married with two children and expecting her third child.

The film Pleure en Silence, co-written by Ida Beaussart and the film director John Gabriel Biggs, recreates the fear that existed in the Beaussart household.  The film made in 2006, has not yet received much media attention in the United Kingdom, but trailers of it can be seen on YouTube.  In one scene the psychopathic Jean-Claude Beassart suddenly spits and punches at his daughter Ida.  The film puts the viewer on edge, because one never knows when Beassart will launch an attack on one of his daughters or his wife.  In another scene Beaussart forces his daughters to do a nazi salute in front of a picture of Adolf Hitler that hangs on a wall in the house.

The local community in Salomé knew of the cruelty that Beaussart was inflicting on his family, but they were too frightened to do anything about it.  In an interview with La Voix du Nord in June 2008, Ida said, “Everyone knew, the neighbours, the school, the social worker, the police, the children’s judge, but they did nothing because they were frightened of my father.  I want only for my story to be a lesson, nothing more than that.”

In a recent twist to the Beaussart story following the screening of Pleure en Silence at Salomé in September of this year, Ida’s mother Jacqueline claimed in a television interview with TF1 on 5th October, that she and not her daughter had killed Jean-Claude Beaussart.  However, this claim was denied by Ida who said later in an interview with La Voix du Nord: “It wasn’t her who killed my father, she would never have had the courage, I did it instead.”

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008

22nd September 2008

An Exhibition to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson

A review of the exhibition Henri Cartier-Bresson/ Walker Evans: Photographing America (1929-1947) can be read on the
 Art Reviews page.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008

22nd July 2008

Astarte Gallery, Paris

A review of the Astarte Gallery in Paris can be read on the  Art Reviews page.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008

17th July 2008

Knife incident in Paris results in death of suspect

On 15th July 2008 an article was published in le Parisien, the daily newspaper for Paris, about an incident of the previous day involving a man with a knife. According to details given in le Parisien, the incident took place at rue Moret in the 11th arrondissement of Paris around 2pm, when a man was seen in a distressed state shouting incomprehensibly whilst waving around a long bladed knife.

Local residents informed the police and three police officers quickly arrived on scene. One of the officers attempted to bring the man under control, but the man resisted and in the struggle he stabbed the police officer in the hand. This brought an immediate response from the police with six shots being fired. According to le Parisien, the suspect was hit three times in the chest, and once in the arm and leg. Two of the police officers were injured, by bullets that ricochetted off a parked car, and the windscreen of their own car.

The suspect, whose name hadn't been given in le Parisien article but was described as a young man of 28, died later in hospital. The scene of the incident was sealed off while police were gathering clues. An investigation is being carried out by the Inspection Générale des Services (IGS), an authority responsible for investigating the police in France.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008

14th July 2008

French veterans’ anger at Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to invite President Bashar Al Assad of Syria to see Bastille Day military parade

President Sarkozy’s decision to invite president Bashar Al Assad of Syria to see the traditional Bastille Day military parade in Paris, has caused resentment among many soldiers and veterans in France. The fête nationale or national holiday is celebrated in France every year on 14th July to commemorate the storming of the Bastille, an event which marked the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789.

This year President Sarkozy is using the national holiday celebrations as a backdrop to his foreign policy of bringing together the leaders of countries from around the Mediterranean. This will coincide with France holding the EU presidency, so there will be around 44 leaders from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East in Paris on Monday. President Sarkozy is hosting the gathering in Paris as a platform for Middle East Peace talks.

French veterans who had served on military campaigns overseas, including peace keeping missions in the Lebanon, are represented by an organization called Fédération Nationale des Mission Extérieures (FNAME). On the FNAME website its President, Laurent Attar-Bayrou, was critical of the decision to make French troops parade in front of the Syrian President, whose country he believed was responsible for supporting and financing attacks against French soldiers in the Lebanon.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008

8th July 2008

St. Denis Basilica

By Jolyon Gumbrell

During the middle ages the basilica of St. Denis located just north of Paris, would have exerted great influence on the consciousness of France. It was primarily an abbey dedicated to the martyred St. Denis and secondly the final resting place of the kings and queens of France.

St. Denis who lived during the 3rd Century AD is recognised as the first bishop of Paris, or Lutetia as it was known in Roman times. According to the myth surrounding St. Denis’s martyrdom, after he had been decapitated by a Roman swordsman, he continued to walk on his path with his head in his hands until he finally collapsed. St.Denis also know as Dionysius was executed alongside two other Christians: Rusticus and Eleutherius around 250 AD. They were buried in a cemetery belonging to the Roman town of Catolacus.

The site of St. Denis’s grave became a place of pilgrimage during the 5th Century, when the first church was built over the old Gallo Roman cemetery. From the time of Dagobert I, who had the church rebuilt in 636, the church of St. Denis became the burial place of the kings and Queens of France. The Gothic basilica of St. Denis as seen today, was built by Abbot Suger in the 12th Century during the reign of Louis VII, and by Pierre of Montreuil in the 13th Century during the reign of St. Louis.

It would have been important for French monarchs to be associated with St. Denis, because he represented the foundations of Christianity in France. That is why for 12 centuries French monarchs were keen to have their earthly remains interred in the basilica named after him. The connection with the Saint is illustrated in a 15th Century religious painting called, The Crucifixion of the Parlement of Paris, c 1449-1450, which is now hanging in the Louvre, but once hung in the royal law courts.

In 1793 at the time of the French Revolution the graves in the basilica were desecrated, when the royal bones were exhumed and re-buried in unmarked graves. Louis XVIII was the last Bourbon King of France, after the restoration of the monarchy, to be burried in the crypt of the basilica in 1824. During the 19th Century, the remains of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who had both been executed during the Revolution, were brought from the cemetery of the Madeleine in Paris and re-interred in the crypt of St. Denis.

A crystal urn can be seen in the crypt containing the heart of the dauphin, the 10 year old son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who died in Temple Prison in Paris in 1795. For many years there were doubts that the heart had belonged to the dauphin, but DNA tests were carried out on it in 2003, which proved a genetic link with Marie Antoinette.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008

4th July 2008

The Church of England in Paris

By Jolyon Gumbrell

Paris might be an unusual to find an Anglican church, but St. Michael’s at 5 rue d’Aguesseau is on the site of an earlier church that once served the British Embassy. The original British Embassy Church was set up by Bishop Matthew Henry Luscombe in 1834. The Bishop had been Chaplain to the British Embassy in Paris, and paid for land on which the church was built out of his own pocket.

The present St. Michael’s Church on this site is no longer the British Embassy Church, members of St. Michael’s stress that their church is completely separate from the British Embassy, and that the church is financied by individial donations. St. Michael’s comes under the Anglican Diocese in Europe and the congregation is made up of people from more than 30 different nations. On a Sunday there are services in English, Tamil and French.

Although St. Michael’s Church like any other church is primarily concerned with the teaching and practice of Christian religion, it also serves a social function for people who have recently arrived in Paris. It is a meeting place for people from many backgrounds, the common factor bringing them together is an interest in the Christian religion from an evangelical perspective.

St. Michael’s can be visited at: 5 rue d’Aguesseau, 75008 Pais. Telephone 33 1 47 42 70 80, website

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008

26th January 2008

Learn French Online

By Jolyon Gumbrell

A good way to improve your French is to visit a French language website, which provides news and practical information to people in France or another French speaking country. For about two years, this journalist has been receiving newsletters by email from ‘Imagine-Rouen’ at which comes from the office of Mayor of Rouen. The newsletter publicises events taking place in the city of Rouen, and news from the Conseil municipal, which is Rouen’s city council.

Websites belonging to newspapers and television channels, also give the French language student the opportunity to get closer to French culture and society, as well as improving their French. When a big news story about France receives media publicity in England, such as the recent fraud, which resulted in the loss of 4.9 billion euros from the French bank, Société générale, it can be quite satisfying to get some extra information from a French newspaper or television channel.

Two interesting French websites belong to the newspaper Le Monde, and the television channel France 2. They can be seen at and . Videos of recent news bulletins can also be seen on France2, helping the language student to tune their ears to the cadences of the French language.

©Jolyon Gumbrell 2008

This website has been created by Jolyon Gumbrell. ©Jolyon Gumbrell 2007