Focus on new Energy framework must also take current economic difficulties into account.
Energy Ministers met in Dublin over two days to discuss the way forward for European energy policy.
The deliberations commenced with the unique occasion of a joint discussion with Environment Ministers to help identify key priority issues which will be needed to ensure a coherent post 2020 energy and climate policy framework facilitating a transition to a competitive low-carbon economy.
Minister Rabbitte said “This joint discussion was timely and Ministers recognise the need for greater certainty on targets, in mutually supporting the achievement of cost effective and cost efficient climate and energy policies. There is potential for maximising synergies while addressing the possible trade-offs between competitiveness, security of supply and sustainability”.
The Minister shares Commissioner’s Oettinger’s concern that the new framework must take into account current economic difficulties whilst remaining ambitious on the long-term low carbon objective.
Minister Rabbitte - "The challenge that faces Energy Ministers is to find the necessary finance to underpin the energy retrofit renovation that is required as part of the 2020 energy and climate goals
Energy Ministers also discussed the effects of unconventional oil and gas on energy supply, competitiveness and prices. In relation to the work currently underway by the European Commission on unconventional hydrocarbon extraction, the Irish Presidency requested that the Commission reflect on the debate among Ministers in Dublin, particularly on the global competitiveness and security of supply aspects, and to take those views into consideration in their work on the matter, having regard to legitimate environmental and safety considerations.
The two days of discussions were informed by the goal of full implementation of the internal energy market. Ministers agreed that this is not an end in itself, but rather, it must bring tangible benefits to all energy consumers.
On the issue of the links between smart technology, innovation and energy policy, Minister Rabbitte concluded that “the ultimate objective in rolling out standardised smart meters and smart grids across Europe must be value and benefit driven, with a specific consumer focus. In so doing, we must recognise the energy needs, circumstances and IT capabilities of all categories of consumers. Data protection concerns are also paramount”. The need for public awareness campaigns on the potential advantages was acknowledged and the Minister added “the benefits must be clear to all individual energy customers and management of energy consumption and product and price analysis must not become a full-time job. Suppliers also have a responsibility to build consumer trust given the huge volume on data in question”.
Day two commenced with a discussion on the financing of energy efficiency measures. Minister Rabbitte said “realising the energy efficiency potential of buildings is central to the EU's energy efficiency policy. Nearly 40% of final energy is consumed in homes, offices and shops. The challenge that faces Energy Ministers is to find the necessary finance to underpin the energy retrofit renovation that is required as part of the 2020 energy and climate goals”.
Ministers considered the potential for jobs and growth that a sustained campaign of energy efficiency in buildings would realise.
At a thought provoking final session which considered the integration of variable renewable sources, in particular wind and solar energy, the Ministers agreed that the proper development of energy policy must adequately recognise the numerous challenges, including cost considerations, in the incremental transition to a low carbon economy.
The Minister concluded the two day session by stating that in relation to all the energy matters considered by the Ministers, “Our level of ambition must be underpinned by a rigorous analysis of the costs and benefits associated with the different possible approaches to new and existing policies, especially in exploiting new opportunities. National energy circumstances are also important, as we strive to reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels.
Minister Rabbitte said “I look forward to continuing discussions on identifying a robust 2030 framework which will facilitate long term European competitiveness and security of supply. Europe must maintain its front-runner position in energy efficient and clean technology, products and services.