I represented the United Kingdom at the EU Energy Council in Brussels on 7 December 2009.
The first item on the agenda was an update from the Swedish presidency on the energy efficiency package (made up of separate directives on the energy performance of buildings; the indication by labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products; and the labelling of tyres with respect to fuel efficiency). The presidency noted that the package was close to final agreement. The UK is happy with the progress made on these directives.
The Commission reported on progress on the proposal for a Regulation on the Security of Gas Supply. This was followed by a policy debate in which member states commented on the current draft of the proposal, in particular responding to questions about the roles and responsibilities of different actors in preparing for and during an emergency, of the need for mandatory infrastructure and supply standards, and the definition of protected customers. The UK raised concerns over some of the powers envisaged for the Commission.
There was also an exchange of views on the recent Commission Communication on investing in the development of low-carbon technologies under the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan. The UK indicated that it shared its support for the SET Plan but raised concerns over the sources of funding for the programme in the current financial climate.
In addition, the Commission updated Ministers on progress in a number of other areas, including implementation of the European Economic Recovery Package, the Baltic Energy Market Integration Programme and the regulation on the notification of investment projects in energy infrastructure within the European Community. Some delegations used the opportunity to raise concerns about Biomass Sustainability Criteria. Finally, the Spanish Minister outlined the energy priorities for Spain’s forthcoming presidency. These included a new Energy Action Plan for 2010-14, a focus on renewables, energy efficiency, low-carbon technologies, relations with external energy suppliers and further progress on current legislation.
Over lunch, Ministers discussed a number of items on international relations in the field of energy including relations between Ukraine and Russia.
Separately, Ljubljana was selected as the seat for the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, following a vote.