Energy takes centre stage in EU growth plan

A common EU energy policy reconciling market, security and environmental challenges has emerged as a central priority in the European commission's latest annual report on the bloc's Lisbon strategy, issued on Wednesday. The EU executive promised to release a green paper on energy this spring.

Energy is cited by the commission as one of four top priorities for advancing the Lisbon strategy's aims of more growth and jobs. Alongside more open markets, stronger energy grids and a more united front in talks with suppliers, it calls for more actions to advance energy efficiency, renewable energy and "clean energy technologies".

EU leaders are being asked to endorse this and other priority actions at their spring summit in March. In a press release, the commission called specifically for "more tax and other incentives to promote sustainable energy and boost research". Environmental group EEB complained that there was no mention of tax and other incentives in the Lisbon progress report itself.

A second of the commission's priorities was "unlocking business potential," essentially reaffirming the EU's existing better regulation project. All member states should start measuring the administrative burdens that regulations impose on businesses by the end of 2007, it said.

Alongside this, the commission pledged to launch its own "major exercise" to measure administrative costs arising from EU rules and then to propose ways of reducing them "where appropriate". It will identify the share of costs due to EU rules themselves and the share due to how member states have implemented them.

This is the first Lisbon progress report since the strategy was pared back last year to focus more strongly on its core goals of more growth and jobs (ED 02/02/05). Broad sustainability considerations are therefore virtually absent from the document, though in an accompanying memo the commission insists that the goal is not to promote growth at the expense of the environment.

Republished with permission of Environment Daily.



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