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EU Energy Council

Volume 472: debated on Monday 25 February 2008

The Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
(Mr. John Hutton)

BERR will be represented by the UK at the Energy Council in Brussels on 28 February.

There are three substantive items on the Council agenda: a policy debate on the key issues surrounding the third internal energy market package; approval of draft conclusions on the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) before adoption at the European spring Council; and a policy debate on the climate change and energy legislative package.

The item on the internal energy 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 comprises proposals to amend the existing directives on common rules for the internal electricity and natural gas markets and the existing regulations on conditions for access to gas and electricity networks. These include proposals to strengthen the powers and independence of national regulators and increase market transparency. There is also a proposal to establish an agency to facilitate the co-operation between national energy regulators. The debate at the Council is likely to focus on ownership unbundling and the proposed agency. The UK has welcomed the Commission’s proposals as crucial for creating a properly functioning EU energy market but will be pressing for a stronger regulatory agency.

On the SET-Plan, Ministers will be asked to approve draft conclusions for use at the spring Council, where the SET-Plan will be formally adopted. The UK welcomes the plan, which should provide a useful basis for the development of new energy technology. The UK is content with the draft conclusions.

The Council will hold a policy debate on the climate change and energy package, particularly on the draft directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. The presidency has proposed questions to focus the debate on aspects of the renewable energy proposal, including sustainability criteria for biofuels, providing stability for investments, and the transfer of guarantees of origin.

There will be an AOB agenda item on international energy relations, where the Commission are expected to report on Euro-Med co-operation, the MoU with Turkmenistan, G8 co-operation on energy efficiency, the energy community treaty and security of supply.