The EU Energy Council took place on 25 June 2019 in Luxembourg. The UK was represented by the Deputy Permanent Representative to the European Union, Katrina Williams.
Council Conclusions on the Future of the Energy Systems in the Energy Union
The Presidency put the Council Conclusions to Member States for adoption. The aim of the Conclusions was to identify priorities for the next decade of the energy transition, following on from the recently adopted Clean Energy For All Europeans Package and the Commission’s Long-Term Strategy for decarbonising the European economy.
Member States exchanged views, with comments largely focusing on language which reflected their varying positions on the role of nuclear, gas and carbon capture usage and storage in the future energy system. Many Member States also recommended that the text reflected greater ambition in line with the Paris Agreement, and some expressed disappointment that the EU had not agreed a 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emissions target at the 20 June European Council. Other Member States highlighted the importance of a just transition, and the need to integrate concerns about security of supply.
The UK intervention reinforced the importance of ensuring the transition to a safe and sustainable low carbon energy system to meet emissions reductions targets, highlighting the UK’s revised target of 2050 to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The UK joined other Member States in highlighting the need for a technology neutral approach to maximise Member States’ abilities to deliver these targets. The UK also stressed the negative signal that not agreeing conclusions would send.
Following small amendments to the conclusions, Member States adopted the text.
EU External Energy Relations
The Commission provided information regarding the EU’s external energy relations, setting out context of the EU’s current relationships with Africa, the US, China and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Member States generally highlighted the importance of ensuring that the EU’s relationships with these groups were in line with shared objectives of ensuring European energy security and facilitating the transition towards a decarbonised energy system.
The UK’s intervention highlighted the importance of de-risking investment in Africa, noting the potential role which international climate finance may play in unlocking greater flows of private finance toward clean growth. The EU-US relationship was noted to be important for increasing access to liquid natural gas, which would help to increase regional energy security, diversity of supply and competition. Regarding China, the UK highlighted the importance of focusing on practical cooperation and applying international standards, with a view to encouraging China to shift domestic and regional investment to low carbon alternatives to coal.
Any Other Business Items
The Commission gave an overview following on from its recent assessment of the draft National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs), which Member States had been required to submit under the Governance Regulation. It noted some of the collective challenges which Member States faced to achieve their existing renewable energy and energy efficiency targets.
The Finnish Delegation updated Member States on the work programme for their incoming Presidency. They highlighted that their Presidency would be used to further enhance the EU’s Energy Union and its objectives, and would promote dialogue amongst Member States about their draft NECPs.
Ministers had an informal discussion over lunch on the role of the Euro in the field of energy.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: