EU-US summit sets up trans-atlantic energy council

A new EU-US Energy Council was launched today in Washington. The meeting brought together the Commissioners for Energy, Andris Piebalgs, External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Research, Janez Potoènik, with the US Secretary for Energy Steven Chu and US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg to launch the EU-US Energy Council. The EU-US Energy Council will provide a new framework for deepening the transatlantic dialogue on strategic energy issues such as security of supply or policies to move towards low carbon energy sources while strengthening the ongoing scientific collaboration on energy technologies.

"The Energy Council is a timely initiative in the context of growing global concerns on energy security and the important role that the energy sector has in climate change. Elevating these discussions between us to a political level underscores the importance we both attach to this area of our relationship", said Commissioner Piebalgs.

"I want to see energy security and climate change centre stage in all our partnerships around the world, and it is the right moment to step up our cooperation with the US. As two of the greatest consumers of energy, we have a responsibility to work together to find solutions to some of the most challenging questions of our day", said External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner

Research Commissioner Janez Potoènik added "Scientific cooperation to foster development of low carbon energy technologies will be a key pillar of this new EU-US Energy Council. The inclusion of research in this bilateral cooperation is also a political recognition of the importance of science to address our common challenges."

With the Energy Council the European Union and the United States aim to deepen their bilateral energy cooperation and to address the growing challenges of global energy security, sustainability and climate change.

The European Representatives in the Energy Council will be the EU Commissioners for External Relations, for Energy, and for Science and Research, as well as the EU Presidency. Their counterparts on the US side will be the Secretaries of State and of Energy. It will meet annually, alternately in the EU and US, and report to the EU-US Summit.

The work of the Council will be structured through working groups of senior officials from both sides that will focus on three specific areas: Energy Policies, Global Energy Security and Global Markets, and Energy Technologies Research Cooperation.

The EU and the US agreed to develop strategic cooperation on energy and energy security, presented in a joint declaration at the EU-US Vienna Presidential Summit on 21 June 2006. The establishment of the EU-US Energy Council moves this bilateral energy cooperation up a gear, on the basis of more structured bilateral cooperation.

Examples of energy cooperation between the EU and the US to date include the initialling of a new Energy Star EU-US Agreement on the coordination of energy-efficient labelling programmes for office equipment, and cooperation on the development of energy technologies such as hydrogen or the ITER project for nuclear fusion.

Commenting on the setting up of an EU-US Energy Council, Christian Kjaer, Chief Executive of the European Wind Energy Association said:

“That an EU-US Summit decides to establish a trans-Atlantic Energy Council shows the growing importance of energy in international relations. Energy security and climate change will have an ever greater role in global politics.”

“It is clearly important to improve dialogue between the EU and US on energy issues and to boost scientific cooperation. If they are serious about tackling climate change, they need to act fast in reducing global CO2 emissions and radically change the way energy is produced.”

“The focus of this new cooperation has to be on the technology that is ready to be deployed and deliver CO2 reductions targets in the short term – by 2015 according to the IPCC. This means that wind energy has to be a key element of the new cooperation and top of the new Council’s agenda. “