On 11 June, the delegation of the upcoming Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU presented its energy priorities and objectives to the Energy Ministers of the Members States. This will be the third time that Austria will be at the helm of the Council, after their 1998 and 2006 Presidencies.
According to the Austrian delegation, the “Presidency will dedicate its efforts to delivering a strong and resilient Energy Union in order to pave the way for a safe and sustainable, renewables-based energy system”. The delegation also outlined its three energy priorities: (i) the Clean Energy Package; (ii) innovative energy technologies; and (iii) International Energy Hub Austria.
To address the first priority, the Austrian diplomats will need to build on the work on the negotiations of the new legislative acts by their preceding predecessors in the Presidency trio – the Estonian and Bulgarian Presidencies. More specifically, the Austrian Presidency will need to conduct some challenging trilogues with the EC and the EP on the electricity market design and potentially on energy efficiency (see news of 15/06/2018: “EU strikes deal on new RES Directive after trilogue on Energy Efficiency fails“). The indicative timeline for this priority includes the Informal Meeting of Energy Ministers in Linz on 17 and 18 September 2018 as a milestone for the trilogues, and the TTE Energy Council on 19 December 2018 as a conclusive meeting.
Under the second priority, the Austrian Presidency will “put a strong focus on renewable hydrogen, storage technologies and the role of energy-intensive industry for the energy transition during the Informal Meeting of Energy Ministers” in Linz. Additionally, the 11th SET Plan Conference on 20 and 21 November 2018 in Vienna will be dedicated to innovative energy technologies.
For the third priority, the Presidency will seek “to foster active cooperation between international energy organisations and to strengthen energy relations of the EU and its Member States”.
Austria’s motto will be “A Europe that protects”. The current Bulgarian Presidency will pass the baton to Austria on 01 July for the next six months, and Romania will take over from Austria for their first ever chairing of the Council in the first half of 2019.