The informal EU Energy Council on September 7  was devoted to the development of a modern and integrated European grid, the financing thereof and energy efficiency. Under the chairmanship of Minister Paul Magnette the EU Energy Ministers highlighted the need to carry on developing the European grid in order to meet the EU’s targets in terms of renewable energy, security of supply and energy independence. The Council emphasised the substantial needs of the European Union in terms of investments in the supply infrastructure. As projected in the IEA baseline scenario a joint worldwide investment of $ 25,6 trillion (i.e. €20.000 billion) is required for the period 2008-2030. « It is essential that we should work in close cooperation with our industry and the financial institutions in order to make the necessary investments. », Minister Magnette concluded at the end of the meeting. The Council also advocated a greater harmonisation of the permitting procedures. « If these projects became more attractive to private backers thanks to the lessening of administrative burdens and the harmonisation of planning and permitting procedures, it would be easier to attract the capital required», the Council’s Presidency added.

In the light of these financial needs, the challenges regarding energy and climate change and the importance of cooperation with the industry with a view to preserving a competitive European energy market, Minister Magnette, on behalf of the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, proposed to launch an « Energy Round Table Conference » which will gather the stakeholders (industry, financial and public sectors) in the field of energy in Europe.

Finally, the last issue dealt with during this Informal Council was energy efficiency. « It is one of the main tools for making the energy transition economically viable and socially acceptable while creating quality jobs », Minister Magnette reminded. Freya Van den Bossche, the Flemish Minister for Energy who lead this debate, underlined the importance of a profound European policy on energy efficiency. « Not only is it an essential instrument to combat energy poverty », she says, « It is also an economic necessity and the best way to combat energy poverty. »

The Presidency notices that both the Commissioner and the Member States are aware that significant efforts still need to be made to reach the 20% target by 2020. « Given the incapacity of the market to attract enough financial investments, more public investments will be needed in the field of energy efficiency », Minister Magnette indicated. The Commission has promised to come up with a solution to this issue in its next « European Energy Efficiency Action plan ».

As to the issue of technological innovation the smart cities initiative and the Set plan were mentioned several times as key elements for the development of European technologies capable of conquering markets worldwide