With climate change high on the agenda, the Portuguese Presidency will take a first stab at the Commission’s package of legislative proposals on energy, scheduled for release in September.
- Germany’s mixed green credentials
German Chancellor Angel Merkel is widely credited for facilitating a concensus among EU leaders at the March 2007 European Council, which led to commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020. Mrs Merkel is also given credit for creating wider international consensus on climate change during the G8 Summit in June (EURACTIV 08/06/07).
Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s minister for environment, was also highly visible and outspoken during the presidency, using the occasion as an opportunity to push for an EU “eco-industrial” policy that favours, among other things, the market development of renewable energy technologies.
But despite achievements at international level, Germany’s performance in more technical environment issues has been criticised by NGOs and the Greens in the Parliament (please see the “positions” section below).
- Portugal changes tone
Official statements made by Portugues Prime Minister Jose Socrates emphasise Portugal’s interest in finalising negotiations on the reform treaty, on improving relations with Africa in particular, and on reviving the Lisbon Agenda for growth and jobs.
But Portugal will need to play a key role at the UN Climate Convention in December in Bali, when world leaders will discuss an international post-Kyoto agreement on climate change.
The provisional Council agenda for the next 6 months also features a number of important environment related points, including soils, water scarcity, pesticides and the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.
Finally, the Commission’s forthcoming “energy package” proposals are the main agenda point of a 30 December Energy Council.