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EU Energy Council

Volume 572: debated on Wednesday 11 December 2013

In advance of the forthcoming Energy Council in Brussels on 12 December, I am writing to outline the agenda items to be discussed.

We expect the Council to reach political agreement on the proposal to amend the renewable energy directive and the directive relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels. The proposal is intended to address indirect land use change (ILUC), which occurs when production of biofuels from crops grown on existing agricultural land results in the displacement of production on to previously uncultivated land.

The UK continue to believe the most appropriate way to address ILUC is through the introduction of ILUC factors and a cap of 5% on biofuels from food crops. However, the majority of member states favour a high cap on biofuels from food crops. The current proposal is for a 7% cap, which represents a compromise between member states. The proposal also includes incentives for advanced biofuels, which seek to support them in a cost-effective way.

However, a number of member states still have significant concerns about the proposed political agreement and discussions will continue at the Council to try to resolve these issues. The UK will seek to ensure that any political agreement includes the best possible outcome for the UK.

Following the identification of five priorities in the area of energy policy at the May 2013 European Council, the Lithuanian presidency will report on progress towards completing the internal energy market and invite Ministers to endorse a Council report to go to the European Council in March 2014.

The presidency will then present a report on the progress and achievements in EU external energy policy since the November 2011 European Council conclusions, and set out further measures to strengthen and improve EU external energy policy. Ministers will be asked to endorse the report. The presidency will also present a round-up of recent and upcoming events and developments in international energy relations.

The presidency will provide information on the agreement reached with the European Parliament on the recast regulation concerning the notification to the Commission of investment projects in energy infrastructure in the EU, which requires member states to report biennially on their planned new energy infrastructure investment projects or those to be decommissioned. The previous regulation was annulled after successful European Parliament action to change the legal base (to an energy base, which requires co-decision). The EP also proposed a number of substantive amendments. The UK with other member states and the Commission successfully resisted most of these, mainly on the grounds of the need to avoid increasing the reporting burden on member states. The limited changes which have been agreed would not substantially increase the reporting burden.

We expect the presidency to provide an update on negotiations of the nuclear safety directive, which is currently being discussed at official level in Brussels.

The Greek delegation will outline priorities for its forthcoming presidency: advancing the internal energy market, energy security and infrastructure, energy pricing and costs, external energy policy, the 2030 framework and energy efficiency.

Over lunch, Ministers will discuss energy prices and competitiveness.