Α two-day Informal Council of Energy Ministers, chaired by the Greek Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Yannis Maniatis, took place at Zappeion Megaron in Athens, on 15-16 May, with the participation of the Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger and the competent EU Ministers.
The main topics that were discussed during the meeting included energy security, the financing of energy efficiency measures and the financing of projects of common interest (PCIs) in the field of energy. During a working lunch, the Governance for a 2030 framework for climate change and energy was discussed.
Greek Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Yiannis Maniatis, evaluated the meeting as fruitful and constructive. "We discussed the issue of EU energy security as well as the challenges and perspectives at a time when the Ukrainian crisis is still going on. In that framework, we examined a number of important options, measures and guidelines," he said. According to the Greek Minister, these policies concern the enhancement of coherence between the European strategy for security of supply with the 2030 Framework for energy and climate, measures to reduce energy demand, the development of EU renewable and conventional endogenous sources according to the experience gained by the successful research in the Eastern Mediterranean. Additionally, participants also discussed the diversity of external suppliers and gas routes, the fulfillment of an operational and fully integrated energy market, the systematic effort for a single and powerful EU voice and strategy in the EU external energy policy, especially with third countries, the revision of solidarity and emergency response mechanisms in order to achieve efficiency and faster response.
With regard to the energy efficiency issue, the Greek Minister said: "For me, as a President of the EU Council of Energy Ministers, for the European Commission and for all of us, the issue of energy efficiency is one of the most important but simultaneously the least utilized energy capital that the Union has at its disposal". In this framework, the Council confirmed that while there are EU financial tools available, there is still a lot to be done at national and regional level. It was also agreed that there is a need for more information to investors, simplification of administrative procedures and an exemplary way of implementation of energy efficiency programmes in public buildings. Especially on issues of major energy infrastructure projects, the Council agreed that there is a necessity, as the Commissioner highlighted, to promote the establishment of competent "one stop shops" in order to ensure express project licensing.
Finally, regarding the issue of a new energy and climate change governance, the Council emphasized that the key words are "flexibility" for the definition of objectives in accordance with national needs and opportunities and "compatibility" of the roadmap with the common EU objectives. According to Minister Maniatis, "we have already invested in regional cooperation for infrastructure development and regulation of markets. These principles will be part of the European Council preparation during June and October and will be part of the council conclusions for the 2030 framework."