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At the end of these extremely busy first six months of 2005, Jeannot Krecké, Minister for the Economy and Foreign Trade, first stated that he had the honour of closing the Luxembourg Presidency’s Council of the European Union with this session of the "Energy" Council, held on 28 June in Luxembourg.
He noted the work completed over the past six months, including the rule on access to natural gas networks, the directive on the safety of the supply of electricity, and the directive on the eco-design of products that use energy.
The "Energy" Council has reached a policy agreement on its common position on the proposed decision on trans-European networks. The purpose is to adapt the guidelines for the trans-European energy networks, primarily in regards to the Union’s enlargement. This will be used, among other things, to fund infrastructure projects of common interest in order to facilitate the integration of the new Member States into the internal electricity and gas market.
Jeannot Krecké pointed out that divergences persisted between the Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament over the role to be played by the European coordinator, proposed for managing these networks as well as projects of European interest. Therefore, it will be necessary to wait for the second reading in the European Parliament in order to arrive at a final agreement.
A second reading will also be necessary on the proposed energy end-use efficiency and energy services directive. The ministers, however, did agree on this directive, the purpose of which is to promote measures and technologies that bolster energy efficiency. The Presidency’s compromise gives an incentive to Member States to realise energy savings of 6% over a six-year period, with emphasis on public services.
"This is a very important issue that is a priority for the Union and, from this standpoint, there are no divergences with the Commission and Parliament. All of us have commitments in the context of Kyoto and in terms of supply safety and improvements in competitiveness. All of us must make a firm commitment in the same direction," Jeannot Krecké stressed.
The Council warmly welcomed the Green Paper on energy efficiency introduced by Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. "This is a sector in which environmental protection, lower costs and job creation converge in the best way," Jeannot Krecké noted.
The Green Paper seeks to identify the obstacles to greater energy efficiency and proposes actions to eliminate them and to improve energy efficiency by roughly 20% by 2020.
Furthermore, the Presidency informed the ministers of the first meeting between the European Union’s representatives and the Organisation of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC), held on 9 June in Brussels. The Minister stated: "The increase in the price of oil and the ensuing competitiveness problems are major concerns. Therefore, we should be satisfied that the European Union and OPEC have finally embarked on a dialogue. We have noted that we will continue this dialogue regardless of the price of oil. An open and transparent dialogue helps ensure a better understanding of each other’s policy."
Following this positive experience with OPEC, the Council encouraged the Member States and the Commission to pursue the dialogue with Russia and to implement the energy-related actions listed on the roadmap for the Common Economic Area.
Finally, the outgoing President underscored the importance of coordinating regional initiatives with the Council’s discussions on Regional Energy Cooperation of the Baltic Sea Region (BASREC), and with a view to the future signing of the treaty establishing an Energy Community between the European Community and south-eastern Europe.
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