08 March 2013

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Energy Council

The first Energy Council under the Irish Presidency took place on 22nd February in Brussels. It started with an orientation debate on how to deal with possible Indirect Land Use Changes caused by the production of biofuels. Following that, the Council discussed the steps to be taken to complete the Internal Energy Market by 2014, as requested by the Heads of State or Government in 2011. This discussion was followed by an exchange of views on the Europe 2020 strategy. Under AOB, the Presidency informed participants about the state of play of negotiations with the Parliament on the proposal for a directive on safety of offshore oil and gas prospection, exploration and production activities.

 During the discussion on the Internal Energy Market communication, Commissioner Oettinger stated: “There is a strong need for security of investment in the energy sector, for increased market integration of renewables and for better coordination at European level of national interventions in the electricity market. Member States and market players are equally involved, and I encourage them to create the conditions enabling consumers to benefit fully from liberalised and competitive energy markets”.

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Commissioner Oettinger welcomes political agreement on offshore legislation

Brussels, 21 February - Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Energy said: "I welcome this major step enhancing the safety of offshore oil and gas production in the EU. Past accidents have shown the devastating consequences when things go badly wrong offshore. Recent 'near-misses' in EU waters reminded us of the need for a stringent safety regime. These rules will make sure that the highest safety standards already mostly in place in some Member States will be followed at every oil and gas platform across Europe. Furthermore, the new law will ensure that we react effectively and promptly in the event of an accident and minimise the possible damage to the environment and the livelihoods of coastal communities."

In the aftermath of the "Deepwater Horizon" accident in the US Gulf of Mexico in May 2010 the Commission reviewed the existing Member States' safety frameworks for offshore operations and proposed new legislation to guarantee that world's highest safety, health and environmental standards apply everywhere in the EU.

Today, the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on the Commission's legislative proposal on the safety of oil and gas operations in the EU. The European Parliament and Council are expected to formally approve the legislation in the coming months.

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Internal energy market: Lithuania called upon to comply with EU internal market rules

On 21 February the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Lithuania urging it to fully transpose the Electricity as well as the Gas Directive of the third energy package. This legislation had to be fully transposed by the Member States by 3 March 2011. The package includes key provisions for a proper functioning of the energy markets, including new rules on unbundling of networks, rules strengthening the independence and the powers of national regulators and rules on the improvement of the functioning of retail markets to the benefit of consumers. Lithuania now has two months to respond. If it fails to comply, the Commission may refer it to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

During 2012, the Commission already sent reasoned opinions for failing to transpose the electricity and/or gas directives to a number of Member States in particular to Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Austria, Poland, Ireland and Slovenia. Subsequently, the Commission decided to refer Poland, Finland, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria and Estonia to the European Court of Justice whereas it closed the cases against Spain, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden and Austria.

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EU-Ukraine Energy cooperation. 7th joint progress report

In 2005 a Memorandum of Understanding on the cooperation in the field of energy was signed between the EU and Ukraine. It establishes a joint strategy towards the progressive integration of the Ukranian energy market with that of the EU. It consists of roadmaps covering nuclear safety, the integration of electricity and gas markets, coal sector and the security of energy supplies and gas transits.

Read the 7th Joint Progress Report on the EU-Ukraine Memorandum of Understanding on energy

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