The Council of Energy Ministers, chaired by the Greek Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Yannis Maniatis, took place in Brussels today (4.3.2014), with the participation of the Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger.
The Council held a public policy debate on the Commission communication on energy prices and costs in Europe. Ministers again recalled in particular the importance of completing the internal energy market by 2014 and the need to further develop new energy infrastructure to secure the uninterrupted supply of energy throughout the EU at affordable prices. Ministers also highlighted the continued need for households and industry to reduce their energy consumption by improving energy efficiency and energy savings. Furthermore, ministers stressed the importance of creating a level playing field on the world energy market to strengthen the competitiveness of European industry and to mitigate the increasing price differential with third-country competitors.
"We cannot enhance competitiveness with a more costly energy sector than other international competitors, with non economically efficient and unsustainable energy technologies, as well as with fragmented markets. This is why we need to further invest on research and technological development and on necessary energy infrastructure, including interconnections of isolated and island regions of the European Union. By strengthening the competitiveness of the European Industry through reducing energy costs, we will decisively contribute to our social cohesion, by maintaining the existing labour posts and fighting unemployment" said the Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Yannis Maniatis.
The discussion will be part of the preparations for the European Council of 20-21 March 2014 and will also feed into the draft Council conclusions to be presented for adoption at the TTE (Energy) Council on 13 June 2014.
The Council also held a public policy debate on a Commission communication for a 2030 framework for climate and energy policy from the energy policy perspective so as to ensure complementarity with the policy debate in the Environment Council the previous day. Ministers stressed in particular that future climate and energy policies should aim at balancing different objectives: sustainability and credible pathways towards a low-carbon economy, with affordable energy prices, safe and secure energy systems and European competitiveness. They also expressed support for the Commission's drive to attain future climate and energy objectives in the most cost-efficient way.
"As you know, the EU is engaged in a reflection to define a policy framework for climate and energy over the 2020-2030 period. This is why I have convened the Council of Environment Ministers yesterday and Energy Ministers today, in order to develop a comprehensive view for the 2030 framework. This framework should allow us to maintain the EU's leading role in international negotiations, especially with a view to the Conference on Climate in 2015. It should also provide the predictability that investors need for the transition to a low carbon economy and ensure a proper balance between our climate ambitions and competitiveness, at a time when economic recovery is being consolidated in Europe" said minister Maniatis.
The presidency will report on the outcome of the ministerial discussion to the President of the European Council with a view to the European Council meeting of 20-21 March 2014.
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