Speak Up Energy

The incoming French EU Presidency is confident that it will be able to shepherd a deal on the EU’s climate and energy package through to adoption before the end of the year. But the ‘weight’ of the legislative agenda is unprecedented, and member states’ views diverge on a number of key points.

France, which will take over the EU’s six-month rotating presidency from Slovenia on 1 July, is preparing what some are calling the “heaviest” presidency in EU history.

Climate and energy policy will make up the major part of the presidency’s work. Paris’ ministers and diplomats will need to broker compromises between 27 EU member states on a number of key dossiers:

  • A review of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme for the period beyond 2012;
  • Sharing between member states the ‘effort’ of reducing EU CO2 emissions by 20% (possibly 30%) by 2020 in sectors not covered by the EU ETS;
  • A new framework for the promotion and trade of renewable energies including biofuels;
  • A mechanism to finance 12 carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration plants by 2015, as well as a legal framework for CO2 storage.

Although not directly part of the climate and energy package, the presidency will also be required to tackle controversial proposals on reducing vehicle CO2 emissions and on further liberalising the EU’s gas and electricity markets.

Where there’s a will…

EU leaders have repeatedly stressed that enough political will exists to push through the package before the end of the year.
Slovenia’s outgoing EU Presidency, for example, “has all reasons to believe” the French can pull it off, a presidency source said on Monday (2 June). The “general political will” is there, and there is a “strong incentive for all member states” to come to Copenhagen with a solid deal in their hands, the source said.

In addition to political will, France’s own diplomats may also be motivated by sheer obligation, with the EU’s international reputation on climate change resting to some extent on the shoulders of the presidency. “We don’t have a choice on the energy-climate package because of the international calendar,” according to a senior French diplomat in
Brussels. “If we sacrifice Europe’s position, we sacrifice a lot of the international negotiation because it is Europe which is holding it together,” the diplomat said.Meanwhile French Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo has the official support of his ministerial colleagues in the future Czech and Swedish EU Presidencies respectively, which will take over after France’s mandate expires on 31 December. “The three ministers agreed to further the EU internal negotiations on the climate and energy legislative package with the aim to finalise the negotiations before next year’s elections to the European Parliament and in the perspective of facilitating the conclusion of international negotiations on the post-Kyoto protocol in Copenhagen in December 2009,” said a 30 May Czech government press statement.

But despite the confidence and apparent goodwill of EU leaders, a number of key files in the package remain contentious.

From EurActiv

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