Monday 18 June 2018
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
The Energy Council took place on 11 June in Luxembourg. The UK was represented by the Deputy Permanent Representative, UKREP.
The Council adopted a general approach on the regulation on the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators. There were no formal objections to the text but a number of member states, including the UK, expressed the view that the role of the director of the agency should not be weakened.
The presidency updated Council on progress on the regulation, on all of which it hoped to reach deals with the European Parliament by the end of its presidency. Some member states called for higher ambition on the level of the 2030 EU targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Others indicated that they would consider raising the targets beyond the existing Council position but only in exchange for remaining very close to the Council position on other, sector-specific measures within the directives. Other member states expressed reluctance to move above the original Council agreed position of 27% on renewables and 30% on energy efficiency. The UK stressed that it was highly ambitious on climate mitigation but thought it essential member states be given enough flexibility to deliver this cost-effectively. The presidency concluded that the Council had taken note of the state of play.
The Commission provided Council with an update on its activities in relation to external energy policy, focusing on its discussions with Iran. Some member states, including the UK, expressed their desire to see quicker progress on the gas directive and to start discussions at the political level, though others disagreed.
The Council concluded after the Austrian delegation presented the priorities for their forthcoming presidency. These would include progressing negotiations with the Parliament on the remaining parts of the clean energy package, a focus on innovative energy technologies, and their plans to bring together international organisations to strengthen dialogue on energy security.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of State in the House of Lords (The right hon. The Earl Howe PC) has made the following written ministerial statement.
I am today laying a departmental minute to advise that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has received approval from Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) to recognise a new contingent liability which will come into force following the award of the defence fire and rescue project contract.
The defence fire and rescue project contract will provide significantly improved safety for the MOD and its firefighters through investment in modern firefighting vehicles and improved fire risk management systems. It will also deliver significant financial savings which can be reinvested in defence. The selected bidder for this contract is Capita Business Services.
The contract duration is 12 years. The contingent liability will commence on contract award and reach a maximum value of £37 million in financial year 2020-21 and will reduce thereafter as the contract progresses until it ceases in financial year 2025-26. It reflects a commercial arrangement that represents optimum value for money to the Department.
It is usual to allow a period of 14 sitting days prior to accepting a contingent liability, to provide Members of Parliament an opportunity to raise any objections.
Work and Pensions
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council
The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) will take place on 21 June 2018 in Luxembourg.
The Council will first be invited to agree a general approach on directives on work-life balance for parents and carers, and transparent and predictable working conditions. The presidency will also pursue a general approach on the revision of regulations governing the co-ordination of EU social security systems.
The Council will then receive progress reports on a proposal to create a European labour authority, and a directive related to equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.
Under non-legislative items, there will first be a policy debate on the European semester. As part of this agenda item, the Council will be asked to approve draft Council recommendations on the national reform programmes 2018 of each member state; endorse the opinions of the Employment Committee (EMCO) and the Social Protection Committee (SPC) on the 2018 country-specific recommendations (CSRs) and the implementation of the 2017 CSRs; and adopt a proposal on guidelines for the employment policies of the member states.
Following this, the Council will be asked to adopt a number of draft Council conclusions on the future of work, early childhood development and free frameworks.
Under any other business, the Commission will provide information on plans for a new European social fund plus (ESF+) programme and an update on recent international developments in the field of social policy. To close the meeting the Austrian delegation will outline the work programme of the incoming presidency.