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Irish Presidency's priorities in the energy sector

At a meeting of the European Parliament's Committee for Research, Technological Development and Energy, in Brussels on 8 July 1996, the Irish Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications, and President-in-Office of the EU Council of Energy Ministers, Mr. Michael Lowry, ou...
At a meeting of the European Parliament's Committee for Research, Technological Development and Energy, in Brussels on 8 July 1996, the Irish Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications, and President-in-Office of the EU Council of Energy Ministers, Mr. Michael Lowry, outlined the Irish Presidency's priorities in the energy sector.

After paying tribute to the work of the Italian Presidency, particularly in reaching a compromise on a common position on the Directive on liberalizing the electricity markets, Mr. Lowry said that the Irish Presidency intended to build on these achievements, and continue with the work under way.

As well as working towards the electricity liberalization Directive's second reading and adoption, the Irish Presidency will take up work on the proposed Directive for liberalization in the gas sector, which was tabled by the Commission in 1993. Work on this will be started during July, with the Member States, the industry and consumers being given a chance to give their views. The Presidency plans to have a compromise text prepared in September, following consultations.

The second major priority of the Irish Presidency will be to make progress on a Community strategy on renewable energy resources, and a proposal for a Decision on analysis and forecasts in the energy sector. The Minister will be pressing the Commission to put forward proposals for these early in the Presidency. Promoting the use of renewable energy resources will reinforce the control of future energy policy, since dependence on external energy sources will be reduced. Mr. Lowry recalled the Commission's commitment to produce a proposal for a renewed ALTENER programme during 1996, and welcomed the Committee's recent report on renewable energy sources. Finally, he announced that he would hold an open debate on renewable energy sources during the Energy Council, to be held on 3 December 1996.

Other subjects which the Presidency intends to make progress on include the proposed Directive on integrated resource planning, and the Commission's proposal for a THERMIE II programme, although the Minister anticipates difficulties in reaching agreement in the Council on these subjects.

Finally, replying to MEPs' questions relating to the difficulty in reaching agreement on indicative budgets for programmes which would implement these objectives, Mr. Lowry made reference to the recent Council Decision on a common position for the SAVE II programme, in which the ECU 45 million amount was judged by several Ministers, including the Irish, to be unacceptably low. The opportunity to review this figure was available in 1997, and he would be pushing for this to be increased at that stage.
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