UK calls for EU renewable energy task force

EU energy ministers say renewables should be a high priority, agree integration report

UK energy minister John Battle has called on the EU to set up a new task force to help increase the use of renewable energy. Speaking at the quarterly meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels today, Mr Battle made a strong appeal for renewable energy to remain a high priority for the EU.

He said a task force - made up of experts and senior officials from EU countries - was needed to monitor the EU's progress in increasing the use of renewables. The group would also look at what new EU measures were necessary to stimulate growth in the sector and would serve as a forum for member states to exchange information on national schemes to promote renewables. The creation of a task force, he said, would be a "clear signal that member states are serious" about increasing the importance of alternative fuels.

A number of other ministers agreed that renewables should be a priority for energy ministers. Johann Farnleitner of Austria, who chaired the meeting, agreed with Mr Battle's idea of a task force. German foreign minister, Lorenz Schomerus, promised to "keep up the momentum" of promoting renewables during Germany's presidency of the EU in the first half of next year.

The wave of support for renewables from the energy ministers will be welcomed by their counterparts in the environment ministries, who recently criticised their energy colleagues for lacking commitment to alternative sources of power. Earlier this year, environment ministers expressed disappointment that the energy ministers had not formally accepted any targets or timetables such as the Commission's suggestion to double the proportion of energy from renewables to 12% by 2010 (ENDS Daily 20 July).

At today's meeting, energy ministers were also due to finalise a report on how environmental concerns could be integrated into energy policy. The report - to be presented to an EU summit next month - is a response to a request made by heads of state for the energy, transport and agriculture sectors to examine the integration issue (ENDS Daily 17 June).

A draft seen by ENDS Daily lists policy areas where further integration of energy and environment considerations will be needed, including the development of renewables, energy efficiency, sectoral indicators and the use of "flexible mechanisms" such as greenhouse gas emissions trading. The report also states that energy ministers will present a more detailed integration strategy during 1999.

Follow Up:
EU Council of Ministers, tel: + 32 2 285 6111.

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