Common Energy Policy to Tackle EU Single Market Failures and Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions
UK Ministers have strongly welcomed the publication by the European Commission of a package of groundbreaking and farsighted proposals on energy strategy and climate change.
The proposals build on the initiative taken by Prime Minister Tony Blair at Gleneagles and Hampton Court in 2005 when he put energy and climate change at the top of the international agenda for the first time, and since then in his discussions with world leaders. They mark the opening of an intense six month window of opportunity that could lead to radical EU policies being agreed at the EU Spring Council in March and agreement by the G8 plus 5 of the elements of a future post Kyoto framework.
Commenting following the adoption by the Commission of its Strategic Energy Review; its Energy Sector Inquiry; and its Communication on Climate Change, Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling said:
"The link between energy strategy and climate change is now incontrovertible and the need for concerted action is clear. These latest formative steps in the creation of a common energy policy for the EU will benefit consumers and businesses right across the continent and build on the developing international response to climate change.
"The UK has long argued for Europe's energy markets to be opened up to the sort of fair competition that we take for granted here in the UK. We kick started this process during our Presidency of the EU in 2005 and the Commission should be credited with the hard work that has gone into bringing forward this concrete package of proposals.
"The Commission today places centre stage the need for competitive, transparent and integrated energy markets based on a stable and clear regulatory framework. The Sector Inquiry identifies serious problems with the EU's energy market. Effective unbundling, further transparency and actions on powers of regulators are all part of the same package to ensure that the market functions effectively to bring the best deal to Europe's energy consumers."
Environment Secretary David Miliband said:
"Climate change is the greatest challenge that we face which is why it is right that the EU puts climate change at the heart of its energy strategy. As the Stern Review and the EU Commission now make clear, getting to grips with this challenge is achievable and affordable.
"The EU and other developed nations need to show leadership if we are to reach an international agreement on climate change. That's why we welcome the Commission's proposal for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by industrialised countries by 2020 - a target we have already proposed that the EU should itself adopt as part of an international agreement.
"In the meantime, we support the Commisson's proposal for the EU to commit unilaterally to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 - as a springboard to catalyse the more ambitious international action necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. This will also send a strong signal to business thereby encouraging the investment necessary to put the EU on track to a low carbon energy future."