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Commission proposes EU Energy Framework Programme

At the initiative of Mr. Christos Papoutsis, Commissioner responsible for energy policy, the European Commission has adopted a proposal for an Energy Framework Programme which would regroup all the actions undertaken by the European Union in the energy sector. The Framework P...

At the initiative of Mr. Christos Papoutsis, Commissioner responsible for energy policy, the European Commission has adopted a proposal for an Energy Framework Programme which would regroup all the actions undertaken by the European Union in the energy sector. The Framework Programme, which would run from 1998 to 2002, is intended to respond to the need, identified by the European Commission as well as Member States and the European Parliament, to ensure greater transparency, coordination, simplification and efficiency of all actions under energy policy or other policy areas. The Energy Framework Programme also aims to identify the necessary reinforcement required having regard to the three priority objectives of security of supply, competitiveness and environment. The proposed budget for the initial five-year period is ECU 200.4 million. Commenting on the Commission's proposal, Mr. Papoutsis noted that "Energy is an essential factor of economic development, social welfare and employment. It also has a major impact on the environment. Furthermore, the European Union will face in the years to come strategic challenges. It is therefore important that the Union's policy and actions are adapted to respond to these needs in a coherent, simple, efficient and coordinated way". The proposed Energy Framework Programme will be based on a combination of horizontal actions (e.g. prospective analyses, market monitoring and international energy cooperation) and thematic programmes. The thematic programmes concern essentially: - Promotion of renewable energy sources and implementation of a European Union strategy and action plan; - Encouragement of energy efficiency; - Promotion of clean and efficient use of coal; - Support to the nuclear sector, in particular with regard to cooperation on safety, the transport of radioactive materials and measures to combat illegal trafficking. Commissioner Papoutsis emphasized that "Amongst our actions, energy saving and promotion of renewable energy sources are of the highest priority for the European Commission. They are linked with the protection of the environment and the efficient use of our resources, both major challenges in the future for the whole world. And the actions for clean coal technology are of particular importance for the future enlargement of the Union. We must not forget that the energy production of the Central and Eastern European countries is based mainly on coal". The Energy Framework Programme will be based on a basic Council Decision setting out the general framework, its duration and its main financial elements. This will be complemented by specific decisions specifying the objectives, contents and details of each of the actions. It is also proposed to establish a single Coordinating Committee for the Framework Programme, which will manage the specific energy actions and ensure coordination with measures undertaken in the context of other Community policies.

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