France aims for quick deal on EU renewables

Jospin says directive will be adopted under French presidency; energy council meets in Brussels

The draft EU renewable energy directive will be agreed by the end of the year, French prime minister Lionel Jospin has claimed. Mr Jospin said on Monday that he was "resolute" that the directive would be successfully negotiated during France's presidency of the EU, which starts in July. Ministerial discussions on the plans began yesterday when the European Commission presented its proposals to energy ministers in Brussels.

The proposals were unveiled only last month after many previous drafts, two of which were abandoned on the point of proposal by the Commission due to industry and member state pressure (ENDS Daily 10 May). A source at yesterday's meeting told ENDS Daily that few matters of substance were tackled, but that already several member states had raised concerns over the indicative targets for renewable electricity generation suggested by the Commission.

Also at yesterday's energy council, ministers reached political agreement on a directive aimed at phasing out inefficient fluorescent light bulbs equipped with magnetic rather than electronic "ballasts" (ENDS Daily 30 June). Under the agreement, the two least efficient types of magnetic ballast types will be phased out within five years. A date for the phase-out of the third type will be set only if the market share of more efficient electronic ballasts has not reached 55% by that time.

The accord came after the European Parliament's rapporteur on the directive, MEP Claude Turmes, agreed to the plan before the meeting. The dossier now returns to the parliament for a second reading, but Mr Turmes' blessing means the parliament is now likely to drop its previous insistence that a date of 2008 be fixed now for the phase-out of all magnetic ballasts.

Finally, ministers approved a Commission energy efficiency strategy aimed at improving energy use by 1% annually over the next decade (ENDS Daily 27 April). They endorsed the Commission's plan to achieve much of the improvement through negotiated agreements with industry, but called for draft guidelines on state aids for the environment to be changed to encourage greater energy efficiency.

Follow Up:
Council of Ministers, tel: +32 2 285 6111, and energy council minutes.

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