Fellegi: In energy policy everything goes according to plan

Member State ministers will discuss the EU’s external energy relations in Gödöllő, on 2-3 May 2011. This will greatly assist the succeeding Polish Presidency, which treats the uniform external energy policy as a key dossier, said the Minister for National Development, Tamás Fellegi, to eu2011.hu, The Minister believes that the Hungarian Presidency has accomplished its energy management objectives.

The informal meeting of ministers responsible for energy policy, to be held in Gödöllő on 2-3 May, will discuss the Energy Roadmap 2050, as a main topic. What is the rationale behind this theme, and what are the elements of the Roadmap do you expect to see progress?

The informal meeting of energy ministers held in Gödöllő on 2-3 May, will discuss two items on the agenda: the Energy Roadmap 2050, and the EU’s external energy relations. Both items are key subjects and initiatives that will decide the future of the EU’s energy policy for decades to come. This is what makes the informal meeting an important stage of Hungary’s term of EU Presidency.

The Energy Roadmap 2050 initiative will be a decisive energy policy document, and it will draw up a schedule for the establishment of a low-carbon energy system by 2050. The EU realised that an 85-90% cut of emissions, compared to their 1990 level, is not only a challenge, but can also become a means of enhancing employment, productivity and welfare, by a set of measures including the encouragement to using new, and innovative technologies.

The Hungarian Presidency’s most important aim is to help the Commission’s subsequent work, by preparing a presidency summary of the contributions of the ministers, which will be presented at the Energy Council on 10 June 2011.

During the meeting, my counterparts and I will discuss the Roadmap in general and also in specific terms. We will discuss important approaches, such as the Roadmap’s potential effects on competitiveness, research and development, markets and consumers. We will also touch upon the possible social and economic effects.

It is our fundamental aim to let Member States to exchange views, before they become familiar with the Commission’s initiative; and to identify Member States’ ideas, expectations and proposals, in an effort to promote the Commission’s subsequent work. Our objective is to indicate the principal direction of the future work.

The successive Polish Presidency aims to treat the EU’s external energy relations as a priority. In what ways will the Hungarian Presidency be looking at the subject at the meeting in Gödöllő?

The external dimension of the energy policy is unquestionably important. More than half of the energy consumed in the EU comes from third countries, and this rate will continue to increase as more and more large consumers join the competition for them. Also, the EU’s energy market cannot be isolated, as energy networks will reach beyond the Union’s borders. Moreover, the activity of international energy firms is not confined just to the EU, or beyond the EU. On the other hand, external energy relations will affect the security of energy supply in EU Member States. Energy security can be further enhanced by a common external energy policy, which needs to rest on solid ground.

The external dimension of the EU’s energy strategy will be a top dossier for the forthcoming Polish Presidency. The Hungarian Presidency provides valuable help to the Polish Presidency, by putting the external energy relations on the agenda of the informal meeting, on 2-3 May. My counterparts and I will discuss the matter at an exclusive working lunch. We hope that this dialogue will contribute to reaching a common position, as soon as possible.

The Energy Council has already had an official session in Brussels, and an extraordinary meeting, which convened to enhance the security of nuclear energy. How do you evaluate all the work done so far? What are the most important results since January?

I think we formulated clear objectives in January, and we are at the right pace to meet those objectives, in the areas that fall inside my competence – energy, climate, transport, telecommunications and cohesion. I feel that all Member States appreciate the Hungarian Presidency’s professional activity. Basically, things are on track as scheduled.

The European Council’s 4 February session paid special attention to energy policy issues, and the Energy Council, on 28 February, managed to adopt conclusions on energy strategy until 2020. What are the most important results of the Presidency’s efforts to establish a common, integrated energy market? What is the state of the North-South Energy Corridor?

In terms of energy management, we saw one of our greatest objectives accomplished on 28 February 2011, when the Energy Council adopted the EU’s energy strategy, envisaged until 2020, relying upon the European Council meeting’s conclusions in February.

Concerning the North-South Energy Corridor, we have made significant progress. On 3 February 2011, President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and the affected Heads of State and Government, declared their commitment to the project in a high-level principled agreement, at their working dinner. During the first session of the high-level working party, which was set up afterwards the Commission and the participating countries adopted a cooperation agreement. They also decided to set up three thematic working groups on electric power, gas and oil, and determined the schedule of work. The working groups’ inaugural sessions were held on 7-8 March in Brussels. This was an important milestone, in promoting the project.

In June, the Energy Council’s work will continue in a formal meeting. The agenda is expected to include the draft regulation on energy market transparency. What progress does the Presidency aim for, and what advantages can the market and consumers gain if the Council reaches an agreement on the regulation?

This is a relatively new, fresh initiative, as following the first press conference and discussions in December 2010, the Council working group started scrutinising the legislative proposal in January 2011. In its conclusions on 4 February 2011, the European Council asked the Council and the European Parliament, to make efforts to adopt the draft regulation on energy market integrity and transparency as soon as possible.

Therefore, the Hungarian Presidency’s most important task is to work quickly on analyising the proposal. If everything goes according to plan, and the European Parliament (EP) receives the proposal favourably, we aim to adopt a political agreement on the matter, at the Energy Council’s session on 10 June.

Incidentally, the proposal is being discussed both, in the Council’s working group and in the EP’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee at the expected pace, in conformity with the Presidency’s programme.