In advance of the forthcoming Energy Council in Luxembourg on 13 June, I am writing to outline the agenda items to be discussed.
Under the first item on the agenda, the Greek presidency will seek political agreement to 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 welcomes the Greek efforts to find a compromise. The UK has always wanted strong, effective action on ILUC so that we support only the most sustainable biofuels. We have consistently argued for a 5% cap on the contribution from food-based biofuels and the introduction of ILUC factors. In this respect, it is very regrettable that the cap on food crops in the Council proposal is as high as 7%. However, given the divergent views in the Council, we can support the compromise package as it stands. We consider that it represents the best compromise possible and is preferable to the status quo that would place no restriction on the expansion of food-based fuels.
This will be followed by the main item on the agenda, a policy debate on the follow-up to the March European Council. The debate will cover the three linked issues of European energy security, the internal energy market and the 2030 climate and energy framework. The debate will be structured around questions from the Greek presidency, focusing on priorities for achieving energy security in Europe in the short and medium term and on securing adequate interconnections within the EU and with the EU’s neighbours. There will be an update by the Commission on progress towards the internal energy market. The debate will feed into preparations for the June European Council.
I welcome the debate, and particularly the recognition in the Commission’s recent communication on European energy security that energy security and the EU’s overall 2030 framework are fundamentally linked. The UK is committed to both of these agendas and considers that the best way to ensure that we take both energy security and climate policy seriously in the EU is to build a comprehensive framework for climate policy and energy security.
In the afternoon session of the Energy Council, Ministers will adopt conclusions on energy prices, competitiveness and vulnerable consumers. The conclusions cover the key policies and structures required to moderate energy prices—for example, a well-functioning internal energy market, member state policies to assist vulnerable consumers, enhanced energy efficiency, supply diversification, and measures to address carbon leakage. The UK is content with the conclusions, which reflect our position.
The Commission and presidency will then report on developments in external energy relations. This will be followed by a second debate on the value of multilateral energy frameworks—such as the energy charter treaty, the energy community treaty and the International Energy Agency. The Greek presidency has provided questions to focus the discussion on considering how they can be improved and developed.
We expect the Commission to report on negotiations of the amended nuclear safety directive. The UK supports the amendment as a proportionate and effective response to the need to learn the lessons from the accident at Fukushima and welcomes agreement of the amended directive.
Finally, the Italian delegation will inform the Council of the priorities for their presidency in the second half of 2014. They intend to focus on the 2030 climate and energy framework, energy security, completion of the internal energy market and external energy policy.
Over lunch, Commissioner Oettinger will update Ministers on the energy situation in Ukraine and Ministers will have the opportunity to give their assessment.