Czech EU Presidency - Energy Environment Priorities


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How will the Czechs manage their priorities in the field of energy and environment during thier EU Presidency?

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Czech EU Presidency - Energy Environment Priorities

  1. 1. EU Information Note The Czech Presidency Priorities (January-June 2009) Opportunity and threats for businesses: Specificities of the Czech Presidency The Czech Republic will take over the presidency of the EU in January 2009. The country is currently managed by a fragile political coalition which can make for a slower and more unpredictable decision making process: This internal situation could weaken the Czech Presidency. o Some new Member States are hoping that the Czech Presidency will be more favourable o to their cause against some proposed pieces of EU legislation in the field of energy and environment such as climate change. The presidency will undoubtedly give them more opportunities and time in the Council debates to allow them to be more vocal. In this context, it is probably more efficient for businesses to have direct exchanges with o the Czech civil servants in charge of specific issues rather than politicians themselves. However, the communication with these civil servants could be difficult because of language barriers. The Czech Presidency also comes at a crucial time for the European Union as the o European elections (and the campaign which shall preceed) will take place at the Summer 2009. Discussions surrounding the renewal of the College of Commissioners will also start at that time. With regards to the elections for the European Parliament (EP) in the first half • 2009, the European body will be working in effect only until March or April. Therefore, all priority issues have to be discussed with the Parliament by then. Consequently, the bulk of legislative work will have to be dealt with in the first half of the Czech presidency. From a business point of view, the Czech Presidency may appear to be difficult to o manage, however it may also offer real opportunities. Motivated by a liberal approach (for a Europe without any barriers), the Czech • Presidency is expected to be very open to businesses’ concerns. As the Czech Presidency would like to promote businesses, it is also more likely to • be open to the integration of events sponsored or organised by companies or groups into its official EU calendar.
  2. 2. “Competitive and open Europe“ The main slogan of the Czech presidency is “Europe without barriers”. In connection o with this slogan, the Czech Republic has set five priority areas: Competitive and open Europe; • Sustainable and safe energy industry; • Budget for the future Europe; • Europe as the global partner; • Safe and free Europe. • In the last decade, the Czech Republic has benefited from an important economic o growth. However, the gradual loss of the competitive strength of the Czech Republic, due to low cost and an undervalued exchange rate are of great concerns to the Czechs. Czechs want to use their presidency to point out the need of competitive strength, the full o realisation of the four freedoms of movement (goods, persons, services and capital) and the need for a liberal trade policy. The Czech Presidency wants to put in place an ambitious agenda to reach these objectives. The Czech Presidency would like to make significant steps in the following areas: o Free movement of labour; • Obstacles for free circulation of goods, services, persons and capital; • Problematic operation of the internal market in the energy sector; • Preventing higher investments into growth-oriented policies; • Simplifying the EU regulatory environment; • Intensifying cooperation of the EU member states in the area of interior justice • On external matters, the Czech Republic sees an obstacle in the current low level of o liberalisation of trade with third countries, insufficient energy policy of the Union, slow dynamics of EU enlargement and the current obstacles of the trans-Atlantic economic cooperation. 2
  3. 3. How will the Czechs manage their priorities in the field of energy and environment ? The Czech priorities, in the environment and energy fields, are the following: Energy Environment Energy Policy Climate protection • • Energy security and foreign relations Protection of human health and environment • • Internal power and gas market Sustainable consumption and production • • Energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies Biodiversity protection • • In comparison with the French and the Swedish, the Czech Presidency has a much more • sceptical position on strict CO2 emission reduction targets. However, from January 2009 onwards, the Czechs will be less vocal than in the past months on the issue as their role of President of the Council will require them to reach a consensus amongst the 27 Member States. In this context, the Czechs will use the Presidency to: • push the Commission to make a robust analysis on “carbon leakage” risks and to o give clear answers on the potential increase in electricity prices due to the measures included in the climate change package. allow Member States which refuse the full auctioning of the emission allowances o to the power industry or express concerns about the energy dependence on Russia (such as Poland) to voice their concerns louder in the Council debate. Some Member States are hoping that the Czechs will delay the decision making process and that the debates would reopen after the autumn 2009, with a new European Parliament and a new Commission. Clean coal technologies, CCS As a high share of the electricity production comes from coal in the Czech Republic, the • Czechs see clean coal technologies as an important topic. In this context, the Czechs will use the Presidency: • to promote massive financial support from the EU budget to CCS pilot projects o to establish one CCS pilot project in the Czech Republic o At this stage, the Czechs do not see positively the binding targets for the CCS such as • deadlines, standards for the CO2 emissions per kWh, etc. 3
  4. 4. Renewable energies The Czech government is sceptical about the international trading scheme for the • guarantees of origin proposed by the EC. The country has a low technical potential for further development of renewable energies. In this context, the Czechs will use the Presidency to advocate (like on the climate • change debate) for targets for countries with unfavourable natural conditions and to give more space to the Member States opposed to the legislation. Liberalisation of the EU electricity and gas markets The Czech Presidency will have to close the legislative process on the liberalisation of the • energy market. The Czech government is supporting further liberalisation of the EU energy market and • different approaches to the power and gas industry as the national electricity TSO is unbundled and the main gas group vertically integrated. The Czechs support ITO for both the power and gas industry as the only achievable • compromise for the EU. Access to cross-border transport capacities This subject is an important priority for the Czech Presidency as a significant transit • country for both electricity and gas. The Czechs believe that the physical interconnection between the EU-15 and EU-10 is insufficient. The Czechs would like to propose a new single tariff for international electricity • transmission and an effective EU initiative on building new cross-border transmission lines. The presidency would like to see the EU develop closer contacts and collaboration with • the Western Balkans, Central Asia and Turkey as crucial partners for establishment of new energy routes and alternative energy supply bases. EU-Russia energy cooperation Due to the historic situation and the current political coalition, the Czech government is • very reserved towards Russia. The Czechs will advocate against further increases of Russian energy imports. The • Czech government is always referring to the idea that “no signed paper has the power to ensure the physical delivery of the energy”. In this context, the Czech Presidency would like to take some initiatives on the issue of • security of supply, “energy “ solidarity between Member States and continue to support the Nabucco project. 4
  5. 5. European investments in Russia, Russian investments in the EU The Czech Presidency will continue to advocate for the same “level playing field” for • Russian investments in the EU as well as European investments in Russia. Criticising bilateral high-level contacts between some of the EU-15 states and Russia, • e.g. Germany, Italy and France. Nuclear policy The Czechs are long-term and most active supporters of the nuclear energy in the EU. • The Czech Republic has a long tradition in nuclear engineering, nowadays controlled by Russian investors. Temporally, the political situation at the national level is complicated by the presence in • the government of the Green party, refusing the construction of new nuclear power plants. Nevertheless, unofficial preparations of new nuclear projects have already been launched. As the co-founder of the EU Nuclear Forum together with Slovakia, the Czech Republic • will continue to advocate for an energy mix which will include all energy sources. Energy taxation The debate on energy taxation is not closed at national level. • The Presidency is unlikely to take any major initiatives in this field. • 5