Thursday

19th Sep 2019

Tillerson sacking to delay restart of EU-US energy summits

  • Rex Tillerson (l) met Federica Mogherini in Brussels last December (Photo: Council of the European Union)

US president Donald Trump's firing of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state on Tuesday (13 March) will mean EU diplomacy chief Federica Mogherini will have to restart her attempts to dust off a transatlantic forum: the EU-US energy summit.

Trump announced on Tuesday that Tillerson had been replaced by Mike Pompeo, who until then had been director of the CIA.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

It means that Mogherini will now need to convince Pompeo of the need to continue EU-US cooperation on energy issues, something which she had been trying to do with Tillerson last year.

Under Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, the US and the EU had in 2009 set up the EU-US energy council.

The aim of the forum was for the two sides to cooperate on energy policies, increasing energy security, and clean energy technologies.

They agreed to meet annually, but have not yet done so since the election of Trump in November 2016. The last EU-US energy summit was held on 4 May 2016 in Washington.

A year ago, the EU said it still assumed the annual summits would continue.

Mogherini sent Tillerson two letters, which were made public by the European External Action Service last week at this website's request.

On 22 February 2017, Mogherini wrote Tillerson that the EU-US energy council was a "vital forum for transatlantic cooperation".

"On our end, we have found the EU-US energy council to be an excellent platform for coordinating transatlantic actions on energy policy, and security and low carbon transition," she wrote.

The Italian suggested that a new summit would be held "at a mutually convenient time during 2017".

However, the two sides apparently did not manage to find a date.

On 23 November 2017, Mogherini wrote Tillerson again. In the second letter, she implied that Tillerson had expressed a positive approach to the EU-US energy summits.

"I know from our previous correspondence how much importance we both attach to transatlantic cooperation in the area of energy and energy security and to the EU-US energy council as the framework in which we can discuss these issues," she wrote.

"Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to propose dates when you and US secretary of energy [Rick] Perry would be available for a meeting of the EU-US energy council in the early part of next year," she added.

Climate change

The second letter did not mention climate change, which could be explained by the Trump administration's disinterest on cooperating on reducing greenhouse gases.

While Tillerson has said that the US may remain a party to the Paris agreement "under the right conditions", Pompeo has said that the climate treaty was a "costly burden" to the US.

Greenpeace USA on Tuesday called Pompeo a climate denier, saying that Pompeo was "even worse" than Tillerson, a former Exxon chairman.

Mogherini will have to redouble her diplomatic efforts to convince Pompeo of the value of the EU-US energy council.

Trump starts countdown to EU trade war

EU sales of steel to US to face 25 percent tariff from 23 March, with Europe to hit back on motorbikes and bourbon in looming trade war.

Investigation

US in denial on EU climate forum

An Obama-era climate change working group has been in limbo since Trump came into office. Other areas of transatlantic energy cooperation also face uncertainty.

Analysis

The controversy behind the Energy Charter Treaty reforms

Experts from several organisations say that reform of the Energy Charter Treaty, proposed by the EU Commission, will make it difficult to meet the targets agreed in the Paris Agreement - making it an obstacle to the clean-energy transition.

News in Brief

  1. Austria to veto EU trade deal with South America
  2. Brexit minister asks EU for 'flexibility' to secure a deal
  3. Kovesi has 'sufficient majority' for prosecutor post
  4. France, Finland give UK ultimatum for Brexit plan
  5. Minsk talks bode ill for EU's peace summit on Ukraine
  6. Poll: Poland's nationalist rulers to win October election
  7. Irish lawyers clash with EU commission in Apple case
  8. NGOs take aim at EU smartphone pollution

Planned German coal exit boosts case for Nord Stream 2

German commission recommends phasing out coal power over the next 19 years - which will provide additional arguments to build the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia, which both the European Commission and the US have reservations about.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  2. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  3. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  4. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  5. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants
  6. Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'
  7. A new Commission for the one percent
  8. Juncker: No-deal Brexit 'palpable'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us