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EP to debate renewable energy, foreign energy policy

The European Parliament began on Monday to debate in Strasbourg renewable sources of energy and a common foreign policy on energy.

The debates are in response to own-initiative reports by Danish Socialist Britta Thomsen and Polish Conservative Jacek Saryusz- Wolski. The Thomsen report wants a fifth of EU energy to be from renewable sources by 2020, while Saryusz-Wolski calls for a single policy on energy and a “High Official” to run it.

During the March 2007 European Union Summit, member states set a binding target to produce 20% of all the energy consumed in the Union from renewable sources. The Thomsen report calls on the European Commission to present a proposal for a renewable energy legislative framework by the end of the year, urging for clear and realistic binding targets for the electricity, transport and heating and cooling sectors. Thomsen said in her report that fulfilling the renewables target is not a burden for the bloc but an opportunity and will lead to a more green and a more competitive Europe. “More green energy will create new jobs, generate research and innovation and will in addition contribute to increased energy security and less CO2 emissions,” she said. She believes that the target for renewable energy cannot be seen as separate from other energy policy ambitions. It will aim to create a real internal market for electricity, improving energy efficiency by 20 percent and revise the CO2 emissions trading scheme.

On Tuesday, members of the European Parliament will debate the Saryusz-Wolksi report which calls for a common European foreign policy on energy. Saryusz-Wolksi urges for more energetic energy diplomacy by the EU - using its economic power to influence suppliers. Energy security clauses in international agreements and a “High Official” to coordinate policy would be two ways of achieving this. His report, which will be put to vote later in the week, describes the “Energy Charter Treaty” as a “cornerstone” of European and international cooperation on energy. “The aim of the report is to create, in the long-term, a genuine European foreign policy on energy,” Saryusz-Wolksi said outlining the main goals of his report before the debate. “The underlying principles of the report are diversification - prioritizing strategic projects such as the Nabucco pipeline, unity in defending the Union’s interest and solidarity in crisis situations,” he said, adding “Europe needs energy solidarity. When third countries use energy as a foreign policy tool, energy is no longer a commodity”.

His report calls on the EU to use its economic weight to exert greater pressure on Russia to adopt “open, fair and transparent” energy markets and to tie its foreign and energy policy closer together in a more assertive fashion. Saryusz-Wolski called for a roadmap to be established by the end of this year for future progress. (