Energy Council - 11 May 1998
The EU's Energy Ministers met in Brussels on 11 May 1998 and held discussions on a number of issues related to energy policy in the EU. During the meeting the Directive on common rules for the internal market on natural gas was adopted, following the Parliament's acceptance of the Council's common position at second reading. This Directive can be expected to enter into force within the next few weeks, 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities. Political agreement was reached on the structure and components of the Multiannual Framework Programme for Energy (1998-2002). This would bring together within a single structure the existing energy programmes, such as SAVE II, ALTENER and SYNERGY, creating a framework for a more focused and integrated Community energy policy. Ministers did not address the budget for the proposed programme, preferring to wait until the Parliament has adopted its opinion before engaging discussions on this aspect. An open debate on energy and the environment concluded that there was a clear consensus on the mutual relationship between energy and environmental policy and on the increasing role of renewable energy sources for supply. The importance of adopting and implementing common and coordinated policies in the energy sector and the need for specific measures to implement the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol were also underlined. The ALTENER II programme for the promotion of renewable energy sources was approved, following the second reading by Parliament on 30 April 1998. An indicative budget of ECU 22 million was agreed and formal adoption of this programme is expected in the coming weeks. The Council adopted a Ministerial Declaration which agreed that the Euro-Mediterranean energy partnership should be based on objectives including the security of supply, competitiveness of the energy industry and protection of the environment. The medium-term Action Plan for the Euro-Mediterranean Energy Forum (1998-2002), which puts forward specific measures for the future development of cooperation between the EU and the Mediterranean partners in the energy sector was also agreed. In addition, the European Commissioner for Energy, Mr. Chris Papoutsis, presented reports concerning the internal market in electricity, the review of coal state aids and progress on the European Energy Charter Treaty.