EC launch HLG on energy, environment, competitiveness
Brussels, Belgium – As a follow-up to the Communication on Industrial Policy of October 2005, the European Commission has launched a new High Level Group (HLG) on Competitiveness, Energy and the Environment. Over the next two years the HLG will aim to foster closer coordination between policy and legislative initiatives and to contribute to creating a more stable and predictable regulatory framework. It will explore ways to unleash the growth potential of basic and intermediate product industries by further integrating competitiveness, energy and environmental policies. The group will examine the links between industrial, energy and environmental policies to make sure that initiatives in each area are mutually compatible. It will also look for gains in sustainable development and competitiveness. The HLG will for instance discuss the EU emissions trading scheme. It will also provide expert advice on the Commission’s initiatives to create a coherent European Energy Policy, notably to the follow up to the Hampton Court agenda and to the Energy Green Paper. The list of members includes the Commissioners for Enterprise and Industry, Competition, Energy and the Environment, Ministers, Members of the European Parliament, industry, environmental NGOs, consumers, trade unions and regulators. The HLG will meet for the first time on 28 February 2006 in Brussels. It forms part of the EU’s partnership for growth and jobs.
Vice-President Günter Verheugen said: “This initiative is a key element in the Commission’s drive to develop an integrated approach for industrial policy. The interaction of energy prices, energy-efficiency and climate change is a topic of priority for many industrial sectors. This is what the Commission wants to address actively with all participants. Sustainable development and competitiveness are not a contradiction.”
Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: “In 2030, 70% of the EU’s energy needs will have to be covered with imports, if the current energy consumption trends in Europe are not reversed. This opens up enormous prospects for innovation in the field of energy, a sector with a prominent economic impact.”
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “Climate change poses a serious threat to our future stability and prosperity. Endeavours to integrate the fight against climate change into other policy area are essential and this high-level advisory group can contribute to this objective.”
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “It is through competition that firms innovate, make the most effective use of their resources, push up quality and push down prices. Therefore, more competition, in particular in the field of energy, will boost economic growth and benefit the consumer”.
The High Level Group will provide advice for action, in particular, in connection with the following issues:
- the functioning of energy markets, particularly the electricity and gas markets;
- climate change, particularly the emissions trading scheme, energy-efficiency and renewables, including energy taxation and removal of harmful subsidies;
- the implementation of DG Environment’s thematic strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste and related legislation;
- improvement of resource efficiency;
- the development and uptake of environmental and other innovative technologies;
- concrete implementation of better regulation principles
- the HLG will fully integrate the international aspects into their reflections.
Each member of the High Level Group will nominate a personal representative to a so-called “sherpa” sub-group”, which will prepare the discussions, position papers and advice for actions and/or policy measures. It will work in close contact with the Commission services. To address specific questions and feed its reflections, the HLG will seek expertise or contributions from ad-hoc groups.
The High Level Group will be co-chaired by the Commissioners for Enterprise and Industry, Environment, Competition and Energy, according to the subjects being addressed and on the basis of a revolving chairmanship.