Sunday

1st May 2016

New EU-US energy council to be set up early November

  • Green technologies are set to be better funded and promoted on both sides of the Atlantic (Photo: Tom Jensen/norden.org)

The EU and the US will set up a joint energy council at ministerial and commissioner level to streamline policy initiatives relating to green technologies, research and energy security on both sides of the Atlantic, a US official told this website.

"Energy is an important foreign policy priority for the US and a very important component of our bilateral relationship with the EU. We wanted to have a form of engagement with the Europeans to reflect that and to raise it to the policy level, to the cabinet level," the US official said in a phone interview, under condition of anonymity, as the final details of the plan are still being worked on.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The body will most likely have its constitutive meeting on 4 November, one day after being formally announced by President Barack Obama and Jose Manuel Barroso during the EU-US summit due to take place in Washington.

From the EU commission side, the energy council is set to include the commissioner for energy, Andris Piebalgs, the commissioner for external relations, Benita Fererro-Waldner, and the commissioner for science and research, Janez Potocnik. The EU's top diplomat, Javier Solana, as well as Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt and energy minister Maud Olofsson on behalf of the EU presidency will round up the European delegation.

The US side will be represented by secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the secretary for energy, who also has science and research in his portfolio, Steven Chu.

"It will be a mechanism enabling officials on both sides to meet and discuss ideas and issues and ways how to promote energy security, energy markets, the development and deployment of green technology, even the development of common policies and standards," the official explained.

The so-called transatlantic economic council (TEC), a looser body comprising various commissioners, depending on the agenda of the meeting, will be kept on. Set up in 2007 at the initiative of German chancellor Angela Merkel and with German industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen as chair, the TEC needs to be "re-energised", said Ms Fererro-Waldner during the plenary session in Strasbourg.

The next TEC meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday (27 October) in Washington, in preparation for the EU-US summit, with Ms Fererro-Waldner participating, as well as the chair of the EU-US delegation in the European Parliament, German Christian-Democrat MEP Elmar Brok, tipped to be Berlin's next commissioner.

The only way the EU-US energy council will avoid the fate of the TEC, which is seen as a mere discussion forum, will be to focus on "binding agreements" in research and the development of new sources of energy, German Liberal MEP Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a member of the foreign affairs committee, told EUobserver.

"One could imagine common funding for energy research, so that you don't spend the taxpayer's money separately on each side of the Atlantic, but set out common research projects," he said.

Another sticking point is the lack of co-operation with Congress, where all regulation in the field of energy and research needs to be approved, Mr Lambsdorff pointed out.

For now, Congress will not be included in the works of the EU-US energy council, but if legislative projects come about, this could change, the US official said.

Possible frictions could emerge with another joint body – the US-Russia commission, co-chaired by the countries' respective foreign ministers, which includes a working group on energy co-operation.

Since the EU-US energy council deals with energy security and pipeline projects for instance in the Caspian and Caucasus region, where Russia also has an interest, the US official admitted that "there certainly may be issues addressed by both bodies, but that's not to say that Europe does not have its own bilateral discussions with Russia as well."

News in Brief

  1. Netherlands funds €1.3mn Russian media project
  2. Fake euros network dismantled in Bulgaria
  3. Inflation negative in eurozone in April
  4. EU economy registers 0.5% growth in first quarter
  5. Eurovision says No to Kosovo, Palestine, IS flags
  6. EU to decide on future of tobacco agreement 'soon'
  7. Russia blames Sweden for frosty relations
  8. UN chief warns of 'growing xenophobia' in Europe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Roundtable of IndustrialistsDigitising European Industry
  2. Counter BalanceParliament Gets Tough on Control EU Bank's Funds
  3. ICRCSyria: Aleppo on the Brink of Humanitarian Disaster
  4. CESIWorld Day For Health and Safety at Work: Public Sector Workers in The Focus
  5. EFABasque Peace Process-Arnaldo Otegi Visits the European Parliament
  6. EscardioChina Pays Price of Western Lifestyle With Soaring Childhood Obesity
  7. Centre Maurits CoppetiersThe Existence of a State is a Question of Fact, Not a Question of Law
  8. Martens CentreJoin Us at The Event: Prospects For EU Enlargement After 2019
  9. ICRCSyria: Aid for Over 120,000 People Arrives in Besieged Town Near Homs
  10. Counter BalanceHighway to Hell: European Money Fuelling Controversial Infrastructure Projects
  11. EPSUResponds To Reported €300 Million McDonald’s Tax Bill in France
  12. Access NowAcademics and Privacy Groups Ask Obama to Reject Anti-encryption Law

Latest News

  1. EU roaming charge cut enters UK referendum campaign
  2. EU fiscal rules, migrants and Belgium's trick
  3. EU should call out Bangladesh on workers' rights
  4. Kosovo: Living in a ghetto on the EU fringe
  5. War crimes law poisons Serbia accession talks
  6. Italy and Austria try to calm tensions on Alpine pass
  7. French MPs call to lift Russia sanctions
  8. EU sides with embattled Greek PM in bailout talks