My noble Friend the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change today made the following statement:
Andy Lebrecht, Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU, represented the UK at the Energy Council in Brussels on 12 March.
The first item on the agenda was the draft regulation concerning the notification to the Commission of investment projects in energy infrastructure, on which the Council reached political agreement. Most issues, including the UK’s previous areas of concerns (principally in relation to the extra burden on industry and on member state administrations) were resolved during negotiations and agreement was reached with little discussion by member states.
The Council then agreed conclusions on the Commission Communication “Investing in the development of low carbon technologies”, which sets out the strategic approach to energy research in the EU over the next 10 years. The UK is content with the text of the conclusions and pleased that the previous expectation of large increases in member state national spending has now been qualified.
The last substantive item was an exchange of views on the energy aspects of the Commission’s proposed Europe 2020 strategy for jobs and growth initiative, based on a presentation by the Commission of its Communication published on 3 March. The Commission noted that energy was central to the Europe 2020 strategy, given its relevance to the economy, employment and climate change. In the discussion that followed, member states agreed on the value of the strategy, and on the importance of developing an energy action plan for 2010-14. There was general agreement that the energy action plans should cover energy efficiency, diversification of energy sources and research and development. The UK noted that the EU budget should reflect the 2020 priorities.
The presidency briefly updated the Council on the outcome of the informal Energy Council in Seville in January; on Russia-Ukraine energy relations; and on the latest report on the status of the EU electricity and gas markets. The Hungarian delegation reported on the energy security summit attended by representatives from Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe in Budapest on 24 February.
The Council ended with a working lunch where Commissioner Oettinger outlined his views on the Commission Work Programme on energy, focusing on policies to meet the 20/20/20 objectives, the need for proper implementation of the internal market package, and energy efficiency. He also emphasised his intention that the energy action plan should look beyond the short-term and set out a route map towards 2020 and 2050.