EU summit highlights need to further diversify regions energy supply
EU leaders have agreed it is crucial to further intensify the diversification of Europe's energy supply and develop indigenous energy resources to ensure security of supply, reduce the EU's external energy dependency and stimulate economic growth.
During the EU Summit in Brussels this week, EU leaders discussed energy issues, including energy security and upgrading the EU's energy infrastructure.
The discussions also tackled issues such as energy efficiency in the EU and the need for climate and energy policies that go "hand in hand".
Energy security was a strong focus of the talks, with EU leaders agreeing that deployment of renewable energy sources must, while ensuring their cost-effectiveness, further market integration and grid stability.
Leaders also said that the EU would build on the experience of those Member States that have invested heavily in renewable energy technologies.
The European Council says that significant investments in new and intelligent energy infrastructure are needed to secure the uninterrupted supply of energy at "affordable prices". It added that these investments are vital for jobs and sustainable growth and will help enhance competitiveness.
However, it also made clear that the financing should primarily come from the market, adding that this makes it "all the more important to have a well-functioning carbon market and a predictable climate and energy policy framework post-2020".
Turning to energy efficiency, the Council said that the implementation of the Directives on energy efficiency and on energy performance of buildings is of crucial importance.
The Commission will review the Directives on eco-design and energy labelling before the end of 2014, in line with technological developments, while energy efficiency measures and programmes should be promoted at all levels.
In a report on the summit's outcomes, the European Council said it welcomes the Commission's Green Paper on a 2030 framework for climate and energy policies and will return to this issue in March 2014.
EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard said: "It is very encouraging for climate policies in Europe that the EU leaders welcomed the Commission's Green Paper on a 2030 framework for climate and energy policies. It shows that the EU Member States are now willing to take the next major steps forward. The Commission has now also got the green light to present concrete proposals before the end of this year, so that the European Council can return to this issue in March 2014.
According to Hedegaard, this also shows that while it is extremely important to address the issues of competitiveness and energy costs, Europe's leaders also realise that the climate challenge remains urgent and that the way forward for Europe is to have climate and energy policies that go hand in hand.
"In today's Council conclusions, EU leaders also call for a boost in energy efficiency and a completed single energy market with more domestically-produced renewables and new and intelligent energy infrastructure," she said.
"And as we need investments to achieve these goals, EU leaders pledged to phase out harmful fossil fuels subsidies and strengthen our market mechanisms, in particular the EU's carbon market. Now governments must show that they mean it and support the Commission's backloading proposal," added Hedegaard.