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Energy Council, March 2019

Volume 656: debated on Thursday 14 March 2019

The Energy Council took place on 4 March 2019.

Tyre labelling regulation

The presidency sought a general approach on the updated regulation on tyre labelling. The Commission, represented by Carlos Moedas (Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation), stressed the importance of this file, citing that road transport was responsible for 27% of final energy consumption and 22% of emissions in the EU.

Some member states raised concern about the proposed label not including consumer information on tyre abrasion. In its intervention, the UK supported the text, highlighting that the proposed tyre label will be more effective and overall provide better information for consumers. The UK also noted the seriousness of the environmental and health impacts from tyre particulates caused by abrasion which the UK Government are actively reviewing and considering options to reduce. However, as suitable testing methodologies were not yet in place that could accurately and fairly measure abrasion rates, the UK agreed that the information on tyre abrasion should not yet be included on the label. The presidency concluded it had reached a general approach.

Clean planet for all: strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral economy

The Ministers discussed the Commission’s long-term strategy for a climate neutral economy, for which the presidency had asked member states to provide views on three questions, relating to the structural changes needed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the impact of new technologies and how to facilitate a “fair transition”.

The Commission highlighted that the strategy was necessary to ensure compliance with the Paris agreement while also focusing on the social dimension and job creation.

In its intervention, the UK welcomed the publication of the strategy, highlighting the UK clean growth strategy and its role in increasing the use of renewables. It also noted the importance of international partnerships in achieving the stated goals, in addition to the importance of North seas energy co-operation. Some other member states echoed this point.

While all member states spoke to welcome the proposals, there was a wide variety of responses, both in terms of EU priorities and the level of ambition needed. While some member states called for the Commission to work on an additional scenario of 100% renewable energy by 2050, other member states raised concern over any 100% net-zero target by 2050. Member states also highlighted the importance of involving the public in the “just transition”, and ensuring that growth and wellbeing of citizens was addressed alongside environmental transition. All member states raised the need for improved research and development, in particular with regard to hydrogen and energy storage.

Any other business items

The Council discussed the recently agreed revision to the gas directive. The UK, alongside a number of member states, welcomed the agreement.

The presidency updated member states on ongoing negotiations on the Connecting Europe Facility, for which it hoped to reach a deal with the European Parliament on 7 March.

Additional activities

The Minister also met with multiple other counterparts in the margins of the Council to give reassurances regarding EU exit, discuss our ambitions on energy co-operation and highlight the UK’s bid to host the COP26 climate summit in 2020.