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Energy Council

Volume 468: debated on Wednesday 28 November 2007

I will represent the UK at the forthcoming Energy Council in Brussels in the morning of 3 December.

There are two substantive items on the Council agenda—the Internal Gas and Electricity Market, on which there will be a progress report and, we hope, a policy debate; and energy technologies on which, following presentations by the presidency and commission on the draft European Strategic Energy Technologies plan, there will also be a policy debate. The third item on the agenda is “International relations in the field of energy” (which will be an information item only).

The item on the internal market will focus on the commission’s third package of proposed legislation to improve the functioning of the internal market in electricity and gas. This includes proposals to amend the existing directives on common rules for the internal electricity market and for the internal natural gas market; a proposal to establish an agency for the co-operation of energy regulators; and proposals to amend the existing regulations on conditions for access to the network for cross-border exchanges in electricity and on conditions for access to the natural gas transmission networks. We hope that Ministers will have a full opportunity to debate this important topic. The UK Government support the thrust of these Commission proposals, and consider them as vital for the further development of the internal market.

On the energy technologies item, presentations by the presidency on its “Vision” paper and by the commission on its draft Communication on a European Strategic Energy Technology Plan will be followed by a policy debate. The UK welcomes both the plan and the presidency paper, given the need for a strategic approach to technology in Europe, and we welcome its proposed approach to improving collaboration between organisations and countries—both within the EU and internationally.

The only other agenda item covers “International relations in the field of energy”. This is an important issue for the UK, though will only be an information item at this Council. The Portuguese presidency and the Commission will report on a number of developments on the EU’s relations with Brazil, Africa and Russia; on the Energy Community treaty; on a proposed international platform on energy efficiency; and on other EU initiatives in the international field.