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Derecho Ambiental / Environmental Law

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La CNMC publica el informe sobre el Anteproyecto de Ley de Cambio Climático y Transición Energética

Fuente: Noticias Jurídicas

20 de mayo, 2020

-España-

  La CNMC ha publicado el informe sobre el Anteproyecto de Ley de Cambio Climático y Transición Energética, en el que analiza los cambios normativos propuestos por el Ministerio para la Transición Energética y el Reto Demográfico para cumplir con los compromisos internacionales adquiridos por España en la materia. (IPN/CNMC/004/20).

El texto alude a la diversificación del mix energético (estrictamente referido a fuentes renovables) y la regulación del sector energético, así como a la sostenibilidad en los transportes y la movilidad (terrestre, marítima y aérea). Además, se contemplan medidas de transición hacia nuevos escenarios económicos derivados del cambio climático.

Retribución de renovables

La CNMC considera positivo que se mantenga un sistema basado en la competencia entre las distintas empresas para impulsar el desarrollo de instalaciones de generación renovables. Sin embargo, explica que es demasiado rígido fijar un volumen mínimo de puesta en servicio de al menos 3.000 MW cada año y hacerlo además a través de una ley. 

En cuanto al sistema de retribución propuesto, que dejará de tomar como referencia  la capacidad instalada para tener en cuenta un precio fijo por la energía generada, la CNMC señala que no está claro si estos procedimientos de concurrencia competitiva o subastas son compatibles o mutuamente excluyentes con los previstos en la vigente Ley del Sector Eléctrico. 

La CNMC considera positivo que el nuevo sistema retributivo tenga en cuenta las distintas tecnologías y sus diversos costes de producción. De lo contrario, tecnologías complementarias a la eólica y la fotovoltaica a gran escala podrían no encontrar incentivos a su instalación. 

Además, es importante que las subastas que se convoquen se analicen siempre bajo la normativa europea de ayudas de Estado, que solo permite retribuir las instalaciones renovables que no sean competitivas solo con la venta a mercado.

Obligación de comunicación a la CNMC

Por otra parte, considera muy positivo que el texto contemple que se imponga a los grupos de sociedades designados como gestor de la red de transporte de electricidad o gas natural (como Red Eléctrica de España, Enagás Transporte  y Reganosa),  la obligación de comunicar a la CNMC las adquisiciones que realicen en  actividades de diversificación y de internacionalización. 

La CNMC recuerda que se trata de grupos empresariales cuya cifra de negocios procede en su mayoría de la sociedad que desempeña actividades reguladas. Esto significa que su actividad y las funciones que le han sido legalmente atribuidas revisten una extraordinaria importancia estratégica para el sector eléctrico o gasista. 

Además, la CNMC propone ampliar la redacción de la disposición final segunda del anteproyecto para impedir que las sociedades que ejercen actividades reguladas puedan otorgar directamente préstamos a otras sociedades de su mismo grupo empresarial.

Asimismo, la CNMC propone que se le incluya en el grupo de organismos (Banco de España, la CNMV y la Dirección General de Seguros y Fondos de Pensiones) que, cada dos años, tendrán que elaborar informes sobre el riesgo para el sistema financiero y energético español derivado del cambio climático y de las políticas llevadas a cabo para combatirlo.

Almacenamientos de energía

En cuanto a  la titularidad de las instalaciones de almacenamiento, sería oportuno transponer los aspectos de la Directiva (UE) 2019/944 que establecen que los gestores de redes de distribución o de transporte no poseerán, desarrollarán, gestionarán o explotarán instalaciones de almacenamiento de energía, salvo excepciones autorizadas.

Además, considera que conviene aclarar si la modificación introducida en la Ley 15/2012, de 27 de diciembre, de medidas fiscales para la sostenibilidad energética, podría conllevar perder, como ingresos del sistema eléctrico, todos o parte de los procedentes de las subastas de derechos de emisión.

Puntos de recarga eléctrica y contratación pública

Por otra parte, sobre la obligación para los titulares de estaciones de servicio de instalar puntos de recarga del coche eléctrico, la CNMC señala que  se debería permitir, como alternativa a que ellos mismos realizaran la inversión, que fuera un tercero (contrato de hospitalidad) el que utilizara el espacio de la estación de servicio e instalara y gestionara el punto de recarga.

Finalmente, la CNMC recuerda que al utilizar la contratación pública como un instrumento para luchar contra el cambio climático, se debe tener en cuenta que los criterios medioambientales estén relacionados con el objeto del contrato, ser objetivos, respetuosos con los principios  de contratación pública y figurar, junto con la valoración que se les atribuya, en el pliego correspondiente. 

Derecho Laboral / Labor Law

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Impact of the Global Pandemic on Indian Labor Laws

Source: Jurist

May 20, 2020

 In the wake of the global pandemic and the nation-wide lockdown, a heavy constraint has been put on individuals as well as the economy. To minimize the impact of the pandemic on the general public as well as business establishments and ensure minimum disruption in the supply chain, many amendments, advisories and announcements have been introduced which would ideally subsist during the containment period, but could have long-term implications. Understanding the ramifications of these developments is essential for the smooth operation of enterprises. One such amendment was the suspension of 35 out of the 38 labor laws for a period of three years by the State of Uttar Pradesh which approved the Uttar Pradesh Temporary Exemption from Certain Labour Laws Ordinance, 2020. This move was followed by other states as well like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Odisha, among others, though to a smaller extent.

Reports suggest that with the exceptions of the Workmen Compensation Act, 1923, the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 and the Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996, all other labor related laws have been suspended by the aforesaid ordinance. However, Section 5 of the Payment of Wages Act, which relates to the timely payment of wages, will also continue to be in force.

Though the Ordinance has been approved by the UP Government, it has not received Presidential Assent yet, which is required as per Article 213 of the Indian Constitution. The rationale that has been put forward for such actions is to encourage investment and employment. The idea behind the suspension and dilution is that in the present circumstances, there is a requirement for a certain amount of flexibility for business and industry to cater to the needs of providing employment to the workers who have migrated back to the state and to protect the existing employment of workers.

The Ramifications of the Move

While the reforms are well-intended and aimed towards the promotion of investment and industries, the unintended consequences of such a move which can be reasonably foreseen are grave. The governments while defending the move have claimed that the workers will continue to be protected, however, this move reminds us of a Machiavelli quote “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

This is a step in the opposite direction when contrasted with the various other countries’ response trying to minimize the lay-off by providing wage subsidies and the UN’s call to minimize the impact of the pandemic on workers.

Labor laws can be broadly sorted into four categories based on the objectives that they regulate: conditions of work, wages, social security and industrial relations. The sudden suspension of labor laws would leave the labor force at the mercy of employers on various fronts. Establishments are required to be compliant by providing minimum wages and basic safety standards under some legislation. If an establishment employs more than a certain number of workers, it would require prior approval for closure. There are other statutory requirements such as notice, retrenchment compensation and dues to be paid such as gratuity. There would be a number of employers who would take advantage of the situation and get rid of the employees without the hassle of complying with the formalities. Further, to make matters worse, the suspension itself means that trade unions cannot raise a dispute under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, thereby leaving the hapless workers without a grievance redressal mechanism.

The Constitutional Validity of the Actions

The Constitution of India confers innumerable rights for protecting and safeguarding the interests of labor under Part III as well as Part IV pertaining to Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), respectively.

Freedom to Form Associations

The freedom of citizens to form associations and unions which is enshrined under Article 19(1)(c) has been curbed by the aforesaid action. It is pertinent to note that association pre-supposes organisation and includes the right to form trade unions within its purview as held in Kulkarni v. State of Bombay. When all labor laws are suspended, including the Trade Unions Act, 1926, this fundamental right is also affected. Moreover, such trade unions voice and represent other employees in case of any dispute before the authorities, which is, in fact, essential in any collective bargaining structure. The very reason for the existence of a trade union is to balance the bargaining power against the employer. Even if it is argued that suspension would be valid under Article 19(4) which provides for various reasonable restrictions which can be imposed on the grounds of public order or morality or the sovereignty and integrity of India, there is a need to strike a balance between the rights and the restrictions so as to maintain the balance of bargaining power.

The Right to Life and Its Various Facets

The scope of the right to life conferred by Article 21 has been expanded to be far and wide-reaching with the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India. It is a pandora’s box with its various facets and interpretations. The right to life does not imply a mere animal existence but a right to live with dignity, as held in the case of Francis Coralie v. Union Territory of Delhi. Moreover, this right also holds within its ambit the right to livelihood, as reiterated in the case of Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation. In furtherance of the aforesaid action, social security statutes like the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Factories Act, 1948 and even the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 have been suspended. This leads to a violation of the right to live a dignified life as well as the right to livelihood of laborers and employees as they do not have a guarantee of a fixed minimum income, and the protection against retrenchment or layoffs anymore. The employers are also no more obligated to provide basic standards of safety and care, as enshrined in the Factories Act, 1948 for them.

Ironically, even the grievance redressal mechanism for them, as provided in the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, is also not available due to the suspension of the laws despite the Supreme Court of India recognizing the right of access to justice as a fundamental right in the case of Anita Kushwaha v. Pushap Sadan (2016).

Right of Protection from Exploitation

In Sanjit Roy v. State of Rajasthan, it has been held that the payment of wages lower than the minimum wage to a person employed on famine relief work violates Article 23. Whenever any labor or service is taken by the State from any person, who is affected by drought and scarcity conditions, the State cannot pay him less wage than the minimum wage on the grounds that it is given to them to help meet the famine situations. The State cannot take advantage of their helplessness. Parallels can be drawn from this case in the current situation also. The suspension of the Minimum Wages Act would lead to an exploitative situation by the private as well as public sector employers. This would lead the workers to a situation of forced labor that the Constitution specifically seeks to avoid.

Directive Principles of State Policy

Part IV of the Indian Constitution deals with the aspect of Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), which are non-justiciable in nature. They are ideals which must be kept in mind while the State seeks to formulate policies or enact laws. The basis for many pieces of labor welfare legislation, including social security laws is found in the DPSPs.

Article 38 seeks to promote the welfare of the people by securing social, economic and political justice and minimizing inequalities in income, status and opportunities. Article 39 seeks to secure to the citizens, inter alia the right to adequate means of livelihood for all citizens, equitable distribution of material resources of the community for the common good and prevention of the concentration of wealth and means of production. Article 41 states that in cases of unemployment and disablement, the state shall secure to its citizens the right to work. As per Article 43, the states are required to secure a living wage, a decent standard of living and social and cultural opportunities for all workers. Article 51 bestows a duty to foster respect for international treaties and obligations.

Through the suspension of labor laws, the welfare of the employees is not promoted, rather they are deprived of the means to secure social and economic justice. This would indeed increase the inequalities in the income of employees. Moreover, the means of livelihood of the employees can be disrupted in accordance with the whims and fancies of the employer with no legal recourse available to them. In the case of Daily Rated Casual Labour v. Union of India, it was held that “job security” is an essential ingredient of the right to work and must be read in the light of the socio-economic philosophy of the right. By suspending labor laws, there would also be an absence of security of employment and living wage, along with a decent standard of living.

Moreover, the aforesaid suspension would also be against the international obligations of India drawn by the ratification of various international labor conventions. Therefore, the instant suspension and dilution would lead to a violation of the DPSPs as well, that ought to be protected by the State.

Labor Reform is Needed, But Not at the Expense of the Labor Force

The objective to increase investment and employment by relaxing the labor laws is optimistic of the government. India had already been experiencing an economic slowdown which was essentially a problem of demand in the economy. The relaxation of labor laws is a reform towards the increase of supply and would intensify the demand problem due to the unavailability of disposable income among a large class of people, i.e., the labor force.

The Central Government agrees that major reforms in the field of labor laws are required due to the presence of multifarious legislation dealing with different aspects of labor law. The Central Government sought to consolidate the existing laws into labor codes, which could be said to be a step in the right direction to ease compliance with the laws. The complete suspension of the laws to attract investment and reduce the compliance burden is patently illegal from a Constitutional perspective.

Even the situation of a global pandemic due to COVID-19 does not justify the deliberate neglect of the labor force. It is particularly in these times that the State must take steps in order to protect their interests. Paradoxically, the response of other countries such as the UK, Canada, etc. has been positive to support the employees and the employers in the time of crisis. This suspension could lead to a wanton “hire and fire” policy by employers.

Derechos Humanos / Human Rights

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Canada justice minister introduces bill to criminalize conversion therapy

Source: Jurist

March 10, 2020

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti introduced a bill to the Canadian House of Commons on Monday to criminalize sexual orientation conversion therapy programs.

The bill would amend the Criminal Code to criminalize conversion therapy for all minors, including removing a child from Canada with the intention of subjecting the child to conversion therapy elsewhere. The bill would also criminalize conversion therapy advertisements, which would allow courts to seize computer systems for advertising conversion therapy programs.

Conversion therapy opponents argue that the practice stigmatizes the LGBTQ+ community by attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual through different methods, such as counseling and behavior modification. “It reflects myths and stereotypes … in particular that sexual orientations other than heterosexual … can and should be changed,” Canada’s Justice Department reported.

To promote its bill, the Justice Department released the interim results of the 2019-2020 Community-Based Research Centre Sex Now Survey, which found as many as one in five LGBTQ+ men have experienced some form of gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation change efforts. Nearly 40 percent experienced some form of conversion therapy.

“There is no right or wrong when it comes to who you are or who you love,” Lametti wrote on Twitter Monday. “I am proud of this important step taken by our government to protect the LGBTQ2 community, especially the youth.”

Felices Fiestas / Happy Holidays

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Con motivo de las fiestas navideñas, El Blog Derecho Globalizado  quiere agradecerle a todos los que nos han acompañado durante el 2019. Volveremos a nuestras funciones en la segunda semana de enero, con mucha más información para todos ustedes.

Desde ya les deseamos muy felices fiestas, y un próspero año nuevo.  

On the occasion of the Christmas holidays, the Blog Derecho Globalizado wants to thank all those who have accompanied us during 2019. We will return to our functions in the second week of January, with much more information for all of you.

We wish you very happy holidays, and a prosperous new year.



General

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American University Washington College of Law LLM.

Source: Ejil Talk

October 6, 2019

 The LL.M. in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the American University Washington College of Law is accepting applications for the hybrid and online programs starting this January. Students will benefit from a flexible curriculum focused on over 20 human rights doctrinal courses offered every year and taught by expert faculty. Deadline to apply is 1 December, classes start January 2020. Apply here

General

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Socially Responsible Foreign Investment Conference. 

Source: Ejil Talk

September 29, 2019

On October 24 and 25, Católica Global School of Law and the European Society of International Law are organizing an international conference on Socially Responsible Foreign Investment, which will take place in Lisbon, at the campus of Universidade Católica Portuguesa | Católica Global School of Law. The conference is directed to scholars and practitioners interested in such topics as investment law or human rights and business, and specially for those interested in testing new legal tools for a changing world. Attendance is free, but subject to registration here.

Derecho Constitucional / Constitucional Law

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India government repeals special constitutional provisions, ends Kashmir autonomy  SI

Source: Jurist

August 06, 2019

India’s government introduced a bill in the upper house of parliament on Monday to cement the revocation of the special constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir, a conflict-hit region claimed by both India and Pakistan. The move came hours after the country’s president promulgated an order revoking the region’s constitutional autonomy.

Federal interior minister Amit Shah announced the government’s decision to repeal most of Article 370 of the Indian constitution and urged members of parliament to approve the proposed legislation that seeks to, among other things, make laws enacted by India’s parliament applicable to Jammu and Kashmir.

The minister also said the government has decided to bifurcate the state into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and Ladakh, which will be without a legislature. Union territories are administrative divisions under the direct supervision of India’s federal government. Unlike the full-fledged states of India, which have autonomous governments, union territories are federally administered territories. Some union territories, like Puducherry and Delhi, have elected legislative bodies and executives, while others such as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, do not.

Article 370 is a “temporary, transitional, and special provision,” which stipulates that except for matters related to national defense, foreign affairs, communications, and issues specified in the Instrument of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s parliament needed the state government’s ratification for all other laws enacted by it to be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. Residents of the state have lived under a set of laws separate from those applicable in the rest of India, including laws on citizenship, ownership of property and fundamental rights. The state also has its own penal code.

The federal government relied on Article 370(3) of the constitution, which empowers the President of India to “declare that this article shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date as he may specify,” to abrogate most of Article 370. However, it has not abrogated all of Article 370, which, in its truncated form, stays as a part of the constitution, and cannot be repealed or abrogated in its entirety without a constitutional amendment under Article 368.

“Under Article 370 there is a provision that the president may by public notification declare that this article shall cease to be operative … from such date as he may specify. … Because there is President’s rule (under Article 356 of India’s constitution) in the state, all decisions of the state legislative assembly will be taken by the upper house of parliament, and we can pass the order with a majority,” interior minister Shah said in parliament.