The environment and energy ministers of the European Union are meeting in Valladolid to debate and approach positions on fundamental issues such as the common position for the next UN Climate Summit (COP28), the management of soils, water, biodiversity, marine litter, the deployment of renewable energy and the controversial reform of the electricity market. Teresa Ribera, the third vice president and minister for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, is in charge of leading the dialogue
This is the first informal council of ministers to be held within the framework of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the European Union, and it will take place at the Patio Herreriano Museum of Contemporary Art from this Monday, July 10, to July 13. The objective of the meeting of the ministers of the 27 is to bring positions on these areas with a view to the next formal debate to be held after the summer.
On June 19, the energy ministers failed in Luxembourg in their attempt to reach an agreement for the reform of the electricity market to encourage long-term contracts with renewable and nuclear energy generators after Germany and Luxembourg refused to open the financing of contracts for difference to existing nuclear plants, considering that it excessively benefits France. However, the ministers agreed on a text on the Directive on consumer protection and prices during an energy crisis, they have not succeeded on the regulation of capacity mechanisms for contracts for difference, the main pillar of the Brussels proposal to review the design of the EU electricity market.
In the last week of June, ministerial sources indicated at the end of June that the third vice president and minister for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, was even considering the possibility of convening an extraordinary council of energy ministers in July if there is no progress in this informal meeting in Valladolid on the reform of the electricity market.
Teresa Ribera, Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, arrives by bicycle at the meeting of European Environment Ministers in Valladolid.
The ministers will also be able to exchange positions regarding the decision proposed this Friday by the European Commission of a coordinated withdrawal of the European Union, its Member States and Euratom from the Energy Charter Treaty in the absence of a qualified majority among the Twenty-seven to approve the modernized text and after Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands abstained in the vote to give Brussels a mandate.
To ensure legal clarity, the Commission has also withdrawn its earlier proposal to ratify the modernized Treaty to ensure equal treatment of investors across the EU. Legal proposals will now go before the Council, where a supermajority vote is needed for approval. For this reason, a first informal discussion is expected to take place between the energy ministers at their meeting in Valladolid.
During this Monday, the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Virginijus Sinkevicius, and Teresa Ribera will analyze the path to follow to advance in integrated management of soil, water, forests and biodiversity; measures to reduce marine litter; the deployment of renewable energies and a necessary balance in their implementation, with territorial management based on the protection and conservation of biodiversity.
Shortly before the start of the conclave, the Euro7 regulations, aimed at decarbonising the automotive fleet, slipped unexpectedly among the community ministers. For Ribera, the file of the Euro7 order has technical support and that of all the Member States, which ensures that they agree on the “need to guarantee coherence” in the paths of decarbonization of the economy and to provide the industry with a “viable” schedule of application.
Ribera has qualified his environmental defense with the importance of orienting this calendar to facilitate electric cars and gradually abandoning the combustion engine, “do not break as a result of a calendar that does not fit well.”
In the afternoon, the Third Vice-President of the Government and the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, will meet with representatives of the European employers’ association for electricity companies, Eurelectric, who advocate a market reform “that encourages adequate investment.” According to the Eurelectric presidency manifesto, Europe must establish “here and now” the necessary conditions for a “radical increase” in electrification that serves to accelerate decarbonization and guarantee energy sovereignty.
On Tuesday, the ministers, together with the Vice President of the European Commission for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, and the Spanish Vice President, will present their expectations for the UN Climate Summit (COP28) that will take place at the end of the year in the United Arab Emirates, which must achieve sufficient commitment so that the objective of the Paris Agreement, of limiting the global increase in temperature to 1.5ºC, can be met, as well as the contribution of the energy sector to the development of the Dubai Summit.
Finally, on Wednesday the main course that will focus the talks will be energy, with analysis on aspects such as the open strategy to reinforce the value chain, guarantee security and energy supply. Likewise, the ministers will talk together with the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, and with Ribera about the challenges of digitization and the reform of the energy market, with special attention to interconnections and the management of demand and storage.
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