EU to aim for energy-savings agreement at G8

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Commission President Barroso outlined the EU’s objectives on energy-efficiency and climate change for the G8 Summit on 6-8 June and commented on increasingly tense relations with Russia after a chilly bilateral summit in May.

Speaking on 24 May, Barroso said he hoped to convince the United States, Russia, and other major industrialised nations to endorse EU proposals for an international agreement on energy efficiency at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm.

“On energy, I want the G8 summit declaration to endorse the EU’s proposal for an international agreement on energy efficiency [and] to include the introduction of energy efficiency labels for new cars,” Barroso told a conference by the French institute for international relations (IFRI) in Brussels.

He said the EU will “support national and international efforts” on CO2 capture and geological storage technology, “notably with a view to ensuring security of storage and the provision of the necessary legal framework”.

  • Post-Kyoto agreement

Barroso said he hoped that the Heiligendamm meeting will also pave the way for “a global and comprehensive” post-Kyoto climate agreement, saying that “a signal” at the G8 meeting “could be the key that unlocks further progress” at the December UN climate conference in Bali, Indonesia.

“I hope Bali will be the moment to launch negotiations on a global and comprehensive, post-2012 agreement. We must reach international agreement on further action soon, preferably by 2009,” Barroso said in reference to the December UN climate meeting to take place in Copenhagen that year.

He said the international response to climate change would require “a ‘grand bargain'” that could contain the following key elements: “The use of market mechanisms, with connections between different markets; technology, including its transfer; public investment; research and development; trade policy and others.”

  • Energy relations with Russia

Pressed by IFRI panellists to comment on relations with Russia, Barroso admitted that they were going through “a difficult phase” and regretted that the energy debate was now “politicised”.

“We do not want politicisation [of EU-Russia energy relations]. But the truth is that they have now become politicised. This is why we insist so much on the market. If we apply market rules, there won’t be politicisation,” Barroso said.

“Put simply, we need their gas and oil, they need our market. This interdependence is mutually beneficial, so long as the energy relationship is that of a market, not a geopolitical chessboard.”

Stressing a positive development at an otherwise chilly EU-Russia summit on 18 May, Barroso mentioned “the acceptance of principle by the Russian government of a structured dialogue on energy investments” and discussions to put in place an early-warning mechanism in case of supply disruptions to Europe.

  • ‘Geopolitics of Polish meat’

But the Commission president put the blame on Russia for ongoing disputes with ex-soviet states that recently joined the EU. 

“Once again, regarding the problem with Lithuania on the Druzhba pipeline – it is not the EU that created this problem! We are telling the Russians we can repair it, we can pay for it, but it is not happening.”

Same for the Russian ban on Polish meat, which has delayed the start of negotiations on a wide-ranging Partnership and Co-operation Agreement between the EU and Russia since the end of 2005: “We have conducted a very objective assessment of the situation regarding Polish meat exports. We believe there are no reasons for the ban. It is a discrimination that we don’t feel is fair. And we hope that Russia can solve this issue.”

Barroso pointed out that Russia was importing meat from other countries which cannot make their way to European markets because of safety reasons. He said: “We have the highest consumer-protection standards of the world. We will not allow Polish meat to be circulated in Europe if it did not respect the strictest standards. So, we do not see why this kind of discrimination is applied against one EU member state.”

Heads of state and government of the world's leading industrial nations are meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany, on 6-8 June 2007.

The G8 members are Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, the United States, Canada (since 1976) and Russia (since 1998). The Commission is also represented at all the meetings.

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