#eu2016sk agendas

bratislava-castle-day

Slovakia will chair Council meetings during the second half of 2016. Here at-a-glance are the dates and draft agendas for the ministerial sessions.

Environment Council

  • 17 October: Luxembourg
    • Non-ETS legislative proposals: policy debate (web-streamed)
    • UN climate meetings, Marrakech: conclusions
    • UN biodiversity meetings, Cancun: conclusions
    • Water policy: conclusions
    • A.O.B: CITIES, nature law, transport
  • 19 December: Brussels
    • ETS legislative proposal: poss. general approach
    • Waste package (4-parts): progress report
    • Updates on international meetings x4

Energy Council

  • 5 December: Brussels
    • Energy efficiency package (two proposals): policy debate
    • External relations: exchange of views
    • AOB: Updates on other matters (see list in source doc)

Source document: Provisional Council agendas during the Slovak presidency.

Informal meetings

Environment and energy ministers will also hold back-to-back informal meetings in Bratislava on 11-13 July. eu2016.sk/en

Outline agenda

  • Monday 11 July : Water
  • Tuesday 12 July (morning): Climate international
  • Tuesday 12 July (afternoon): Joint session with energy ministers
    • financing
    • governance
  • Wednesday 13 July: Energy only

Documents (environment part)

 

Draft planning template

plan

The Commission met today with member states to discuss a first draft template for prospective “national energy and climate plans” for the period after 2020. A copy of the document can be found here. Depending on the outcome of the ongoing discussions, the template could form part of an EC legislative proposal by the end of this year. Parliament, the Commission said last week, would be consulted later. ❧

What energy union isn’t

EU flag held aloft

Perhaps it helps to remind ourselves what energy union isn’t? Energy union isn’t a new thing, such a new European treaty or agency. It isn’t a new single legal framework, or a new single package of laws or a new single structure of any kind. For these reasons I prefer to avoid to writing energy union with Capital Initials, as Donald Tusk did last year in the FT (cf pic).

FT Tusk

So what is energy union then?

In a single sentence, I see energy union as Europe doing more of the same things as we did before only (hopefully) better.

For me this means continuing to apply the EU treaties in general and the energy chapter objectives in particular. We should modify existing framework rules (EU laws etc) where there is a good case to do so.

The fields of energy, environment and internal market all remain shared competences under EU basic law. Based on the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity in Article 5, this means there are natural limits to Union-level actions towards other levels. There is e.g. no EU plan to harmonise mains plug sockets.

To do more of the same only better relies, as one would expect, on the same European institutions, the same rules of procedure and the same or similar framework conditions that, in turn, shape how people and companies obtain, use and conserve various forms of energy.

The energy union work programme that the Commission set out in February comprises 43 initiatives to be undertaken over the next four years or so. Some are big, some small, some will be binding, some not, some may be dropped, others may emerge. Parliament and Council got their hands of the first two bills in July.

The quality of the outcomes as a whole (affordable, clean, reliable energy systems) relies on the quality of each of the component parts, before, during and after the present activities. We need to ensure our objectives are met today as well as in the future. Moreover, the foreseen energy union legislation will for the most part only amend existing rules rather than create new ones.

Lastly, one could see energy union also in communications terms as a slogan! or a #tag or both. This helps unify the many initiatives, including e.g. 2030-framework actions, into a more cohesive policy narrative, in Brussels at least.

Scope

The scope of energy union risks being confusing as the formal work programme excludes much environmental rule-making and most competition matters. However due the significance of these later two policy areas, it helps to see them as at least overlapping with the energy union‘s work programme, for example as regards pollution from large combustion plants and the situation of Gazprom operations in the EU market. The key Commissioners certainly see these areas as relevant to or even a part of energy union based on public statements they have made.

Is energy union transformational?

It should be transformational but it isn’t so far. The global climate crisis and the linked need for our societies to exit fossil fuels over 1-2 generations, starting with coal, ought to make it a radical programme for change. However under its present leadership – not just the two EC principals, but the fractious debates and outcomes in all institutions, it’s far from there today.

More of the same only better. Hopefully.

Existing governance

Berlaymont flags outside

The Commission has released four working papers that list “existing reporting obligations” in energy and related EU policy fields. “Two hundred” such obligations were first cited by VP Šefčovič on 18 May, when he suggested some or all could be merged.

The obligations include both those upon member states to report to the Commission as well as obligations on the Commission to report to other EU institutions.

Access to these tables now presents a chance for interested parties, alongside officials, to consider which of the legal provisions listed may be candidates for “simplification” as the “energy union” work programme and related rule-making moves forward.

The EC’s cover letter stresses ~ and readers should be aware ~ that the tables are only work-in-progress and in themselves say nothing about any particular new policy.

I will only make my own analysis of the tables’ content after the summer break, which for me starts tomorrow. 🙂

-oo0oo–

Correlation Table 2.0

MS nervous smile

Last month I posted a first version of a ‘correlation table’ aiming to show how the elements (or priorities) of a proposed “energy union” fit with basic EU treaty provisions and with other EU policies and laws.

See 15 Nov: Energy policy contains 4 objectives, not 3 or 5.

Since then, incorporating feedback from a variety of people – for which thanks! – I’ve made a new clarified and expanded version of the same table, available in three formats below.

My basic point is that the Union institutions can only act in so far as they are empowered by the EU treaties and therefore that proposed actions must fit with the treaties. Moreover, with “energy union”, we are not starting with a blank page; we must take account of what has already been done over past years, which is substantial.

Further feedback, discussion and sharing as ever welcome.

Corellation Table v2

Click on image to enlarge * PDF VERSIONGoogle Doc

–oo0oo–