What to expect from the Latvian EU Presidency?

This briefing identifies the indispensable role clean energy solutions play in rapidly ending the EU’s reliance on fossil gas imports from Russia.

Publish date: January 12, 2015

Latvia, one of the smallest EU Member States with the fastest growing economy in the Eurozone, took over the rotating EU Presidency on 1 January 2015. “Competitive, Digital and Engaged Europe” is the Presidency’s slogan; however, energy, climate and environmental policy will also be among its key priorities. Bellona welcomes these and looks forward to engaging with the Latvian Presidency in strengthening EU energy independence and retaining the EU’s leadership position in climate action to facilitate a successful outcome at the upcoming United Nations Climate Summit in Paris.

Ever since the establishment of its office in Brussels in 1994, Bellona Europa has sought to influence the processes of EU law-making by engaging with key stakeholders in the EU institutions. In 2014 alone Bellona has worked on key EU legislative outcomes, including the European Commission (EC)’s Energy Security Communication and the Council’s conclusions on the Union’s 2030 Climate and Energy Package, and has provided responses to the EC-conducted consultations on revising the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Directive and the EU’s Emission Trading System (ETS) post-2020 carbon leakage provisions. Read more on Bellona’s achievements and contributions specifically in advancing the deployment of CCS throughout the past year here.

Energy policy – high on the EU agenda

Strengthening energy independence to enable the completion of the internal energy market, with a focus on connectivity and regional governance, will be a key priority of the Latvian Presidency. The Presidency also aims to initiate early Council discussions so as to provide timely input to the EC on the legislative proposal for the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policy.

With regards to climate policy, the Presidency will be concentrating its efforts in particular on the revision of the EU ETS and the preparatory work for the decisive UN Climate Summit, COP-21, in Paris at the end of this year, where world leaders will be agreeing on a global climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. In both of these processes, the challenge will be to tailor a policy which will render the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the stimulation of economic growth compatible.

A key role the Presidency is expected to play is to facilitate an agreement between the institutions on a legislative proposal to establish a market stability reserve (MSR) to reduce the surplus of emission allowances in the ETS and thus cure the low and volatile carbon price which has prevailed in the system. Bellona recognises the importance of a comprehensive reform of the ETS to send a strong price signal to investors and incentivise deep emission reductions. To read Bellona’s position with regards to the MSR proposal see the brief entitled Comprehensive ETS Reform. Bellona will also provide further input to the recently opened public consultation on the ETS Directive reform for the post-2020 period.

Similarly, the Latvian Presidency will be tasked with stirring preparations and catalysing a common position within the EU prior to the UN Climate Summit in Paris. Bellona provided input to several UN processes in 2014. In fact, Bellona’s active engagement in consultation processes and conferences in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) contributed to these UN bodies shining a spotlight on the CCS technology, which Bellona sees as indispensable in the fight against climate change. The European UNECE countries along with the USA and Canada have now called for strong incentives for CCS to be provided in the global post-2015 climate deal. Bellona will continue its efforts in these processes to ensure an ambitious and legally-binding agreement is achieved.

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