EU heads of government and state will hold a meeting in Brussels, on 4 February. At the European Council’s session, they will discuss ways to link European energy networks, increase energy efficiency and to reduce import dependence. The summit will deal with the stimulation of innovation, issues of the European economic reform, and the situation in Egypt and Tunisia.
At the meeting on 4 February, EU heads of government and state will mainly discuss energy policy, and stimulating innovation. As Minister of State for EU Affairs, Enikő Győri, said in a press conference, in Budapest, on 1 February, “This will be the Council’s first thematic meeting. The summit, is to be attended by the European Commission, and the President of the European Parliament. Preparations were made in close cooperation with Permanent President, Herman Van Rompuy, and the Hungarian Presidency.”
Single energy market
A key objective of the negotiations will be to establish a single energy market. To this end, there is a need to create the missing links between energy networks, and to overcome administrative barriers in the market.
”Energy security is a pan-European problem”, the Minister of State stressed and added, “abolishing ‘energy islands’, which are not connected to the network, will both increase energy safety and have a beneficial influence on consumer prices. Primarily, energy infrastructure development has to be financed by the market, but state intervention will be necessary where this would be unprofitable for the market.”
“The topics of the summit will include the transition to a low-carbon economy, the support of the required sustainable, renewable ‘green technologies’, and the increase of energy efficiency of buildings and transportation. These all can contribute to a decrease in Europe’s energy dependence,” Ms Győri declared.
Beside the development of the EU’s internal energy market, member state leaders will also discuss ways to better coordinate the EU’s foreign policy, relating to energy issues, and the kind of partnership mechanism that should be established with major energy producer, and transit countries. Ms Győri said, “The summit will not identify specific projects, but will encourage the EU to commit to diversifying acquisition sources and transport routes.”
Ms Győri hoped that member states will adopt a conclusion on the 2011-2020 Energy Action Plan, at the energy ministers’ meeting on 28 February.
European Research Area
Another key issue will be the stimulation of innovation. The EU aims to create the European Research Area by 2014, through, establishing a united European research, innovation and knowledge market. The Hungarian Presidency thinks that innovation is vital to boosting European competitiveness, and also to help face social challenges such as aging societies, climate change and energy supply hardships.
“The European Council’s meeting, will also discuss ways to create a more favourable economic environment for innovative enterprises. To this end, the operation of EU programmes supporting innovation, should be simplified. These issues are also part of Innovation Union, a flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy, which will be a key topic at the Competitiveness Council’s meeting in March,” said Ms Győri.
Debate on European economic governance
“In addition to energy and innovation issues, the agenda will include economic matters. The Hungarian Presidency hopes that the Council will reach a common position on the legislative package, aimed to reinforce the coordination of economic policy by the end of March at the latest,” Ms Győri said and added, “In parallel with cross-member state negotiations, the Hungarian Presidency will also consult with the European Parliament.” According to Ms Győri, a further issue of the summit may be the prospect of certain member states starting closer economic cooperation.
Ms Győri pointed out that heads of state and government will also discuss the situation in Egypt and Tunisia.