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Energy Council

Volume 564: debated on Thursday 13 June 2013

The United Kingdom was represented by Shan Morgan, Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU, at the EU Energy Council in Luxembourg on 7 June 2013. Discussion centred on the internal energy market, energy technology and innovation, biofuels and external energy relations.

The presidency reported on progress on the proposed directive relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and on the promotion of renewable energy. The Energy Commissioner noted that the Commission was flexible on its proposal to cap at 5% the contribution of so-called first generation—or land-based—biofuels to the 10% renewable fuel target for 2020. The Irish presidency concluded that discussions would continue in a final meeting of the indirect land use change ad hoc group under its presidency.

Responding to the Commission’s 2012 communication and taking account of the outcome of the 22 May European Council, the Council adopted conclusions on “Making the internal energy market work”. The Commission set out some concerns over capacity mechanisms, arguing that if 28 member states each put in place expensive arrangements to have reserve generating capacity in times of shortage, then this would both be expensive and undermine the single market.

In a debate on the Commission communication on “Energy technologies and innovation”, Ministers agreed on the need to prioritise research and innovation, in order to bring down the cost of new technologies and accelerate their entry to the market; and endorsed Commission proposals to update the strategy energy technology plan and develop an integrated road map by the end of 2013. A number of member states, including the UK, called for more detail on how national and EU funding mechanisms would be integrated. Other member states underlined that any new reporting system should avoid the excessive administrative burdens associated with the strategic energy technologies information system (SETIS).

On energy external relations, the Energy Commissioner reported on developments on gas import pipelines, underlining that the EU’s energy single market rules would apply to all import pipelines into the EU and that member states’ bilateral contracts with neighbouring third countries should embody the principles of transparency and fair competition. On the southern corridor, it was noted that Georgia may soon join the energy community treaty and that Azerbaijan’s President would visit Brussels on 21 June for discussions concerning the preferred pipeline option. The Commission announced two conferences towards the end of the year, including one on eastern Mediterranean gas.

Finally, Lithuania gave a presentation of its presidency priorities: completing the internal market and strengthening the external dimension. Lithuania also hoped to make progress with the European Parliament towards an agreement on biofuels, on notification of infrastructure investments and on an expected Commission proposal on sustainability criteria for biomass.