I represented the UK at the Energy Council in Brussels on 28 February.
The Council began with a report by the Commission on the progress of negotiations in the Council working group on the proposed regulation on energy market integrity and transparency. The European Council had given a mandate for rapid completion of the dossier, which is essential for setting the rules of energy commodity trading in the EU.
The Council then adopted Council conclusions on the “Energy 2020” strategy and the communication on energy infrastructure priorities. Commissioner Oettinger summarised the content of the conclusions and highlighted the need for specific actions on 2050 work, including in particular support for infrastructure investment, energy efficiency, and the need to consider how the next financial perspective can best support the transition to 2050.
The main focus of the Council was a discussion of energy efficiency and renewables to contribute to the EU semester exercise (a new EU initiative to improve economic policy co-ordination). The EU semester process will be considered by the spring European Council later this month. Commissioner Oettinger noted the positive impact that energy efficiency and renewables could have on EU industry. Most Ministers supported the Commission’s approach and agreed on the importance of energy efficiency. I noted that the forthcoming energy efficiency action plan should focus on those areas where action is best taken at EU level or where there is direct added-value in co-operative efforts.
The Commissioner also updated the Council on the recent communication on the implementation of the renewables directive and on the southern corridor, where he said that he would present a long-term strategy to the Council in the second half of 2011. I noted the UK’s support for the idea of the southern corridor but the importance that any strategic work should not delay the commercial development of Azeri gas.
Over lunch, there was a discussion of north Africa and oil prices, and the internal energy market.
The Energy Council, as the formation of the Council in session, adopted a decision implementing the UN Security Council Resolution imposing sanctions on Libya.