I am writing to report discussions at the Energy Council on 12 December, where I represented the UK.
The Council discussed the Proposal to amend the Renewable Energy Directive and the Directive relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels with the aim of reaching political agreement. 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 Council was unable to reach agreement on the proposal as Ministers could not find a compromise between those who wanted high ambition on ILUC (including the UK) and those who wanted to protect the interests of their biofuels industries. It is hoped that this dossier will be taken forward under the Greek Presidency.
The Council report on the Internal Energy Market was approved by the Council with one amendment relating to the need to prioritise interconnection between Member States that were below the 10% electricity interconnection target, endorsed by the European Council in 2002. A number of Ministers emphasised that Member States should protect the internal energy market by adopting EU solutions to address security of supply concerns rather than national measures.
The Council agreed the progress report on EU external energy policy with no changes. The Commissioner presented a round-up of recent and upcoming events and developments in international energy relations. He welcomed the decision to extend the Energy Community for another ten years and suggested that there was a need for stronger interconnections in South-East Europe, in particular a new interconnector between Bulgaria and Greece.
The incoming Greek Presidency outlined their priorities for the next six months. They will focus on the internal energy market, particularly ending energy isolation for the EU’s peripheral regions and funding options for infrastructure projects; energy costs and vulnerable consumers; and the Nuclear Safety Directive.
The Presidency gave an update on nuclear energy. A number of Member States noted that they considered the proposal for the Nuclear Safety Directive to be premature.
Over lunch, Ministers discussed energy prices and competitiveness.