The endorsement of an ambitious energy and climate-change policy by EU heads of states at their summit last week was greeted with a mix of cheerful enthusiasm and apprehension. EURACTIV presents a summary of the main reactions.
European leaders have agreed to a legally binding objective to meet 20% of their energy needs with renewables such as wind power in a fresh drive to put the EU on track to a low-carbon economy by 2020.
As EU leaders prepare to make unprecedented commitments to cut greenhouse-gas emissions at a summit this week, divisions have emerged over whether to recognise nuclear as a low-carbon source, alongside wind power and other 'green' energies.
With energy and climate change stealing the headlines at this year's Spring European Council, environmental NGOs and industry groups ranging from large power utilities to the international margarine association are all trying to grab media attention.
The European Commission will ask EU leaders to support a Strategic Energy Technology Plan to put Europe on course for a low-carbon future at the Spring Summit this week. However, national considerations once again risk dampening EU ambitions.
The UK has joined Germany, the European Commission and other member states to push for an EU target on renewable energies to be made mandatory, raising the stakes of the Spring Summit that will take place in Brussels on 8-9 March 2007.
A high-level group advising the Commission on energy issues has recommended phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies, as EU leaders prepare to endorse proposals for a common energy policy at a summit in Brussels on 8-9 March.
Energy ministers agreed to raise biofuels use to a minimum of 10% by 2020 but rejected an EU-wide binding target for renewables, leaving it to member states to decide on specific objectives at national level.
A closer link needs to be created between research, climate change and economic objectives, says the Commission ahead of an EU summit that will decide whether to double community funding for research in non-nuclear energies.
The Russian president has said that Moscow wishes to play by market rules on energy supply and transit as he sought to calm European fears voiced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Speaking exclusively to EURACTIV, Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs says that new energy and climate-change proposals should lead to higher prices for consumers. But paying 5% more now will avoid much steeper price hikes in the future, he argues.
Plans to increase biofuel contribution to 10% of EU transport fuel by 2020 have been criticised by environmental NGOs, who increasingly believe that the promotion of biofuels may actually cause more harm than good.
The Commission invites EU members to move forward 'unilaterally' with a 20% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020 in a bid to reduce its dependency on imported fuels and trigger a new 'industrial revolution'.
The official launch of a common energy policy in March will be a tricky task for Germany as it faces criticisms over its reluctance to open up gas and electricity markets and for going it alone on relations with Russia.
France, Germany and Spain were among the 16 countries formally cautioned for dragging their feet on liberalising gas and electricity markets. In the Commission's firing line is France's cherished capped-price model.
Ministers agreed to pursue efforts on renewable energies but countries such as France refuse new binding targets until priority is placed on low-carbon sources, including nuclear, to achieve overarching climate goals.
A proposal will be issued at the end of November to incorporate energy issues in all of the EU's relations with neighbouring countries, External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner has announced.
Led by industry and supported by the EU, the new technology platform will seek to map out priorities for wind-energy research up to 2030 and to direct funding into targeted areas such as offshore wind and grid integration.