ENERGY: FOCUS ON 2050 ROAD MAP AND SPECIAL SUMMIT.

Much of the work on Hungary's plate is predetermined as part of the current Presidency trio with Spain and Belgium. Additionally, the slow initial pace of legislative measures by Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger makes for a relative paucity of hard legal measures to deal with during the first six months of 2011. Be that as it may, as a backdrop to Budapest's stint as chair, the Hungarians still insist on their underlying energy priorities, notably sustainability, safety and security and an integrated market.

In terms of sustainability, the Presidency promises to pay special attention to several issues. These include the energy strategy 2011-2020. Proposed by the European Commission on 10 November 2010, the document will be discussed by EU leaders at their special energy summit, on 4 February. It is also set for adoption at the spring European Council. The Hungarians take over the five priorities the Commission has identified. These are: 1. achieving an energy-efficient Europe; 2. building a truly pan-European integrated energy market; 3. empowering consumers and achieving the highest level of safety and security; 4. extending Europe's leadership in energy technology and innovation; and 5. strengthening the external dimension of the EU energy market. In more concrete terms, the Hungarians should adopt corresponding conclusions at the Energy Council, on 28 February. Budapest hopes to have the conclusions confirmed by the European Council, on 25 March.

Another important task will be examining where Europe wants to be in terms of energy in 40 years' time. While the Belgians had hoped that they could guide debate on this matter, slow work in the Commission now means the honour should fall upon the Hungarians. The Commission is now only expected to come out with an energy road map 2050 in the spring. This will outline a policy towards a low-carbon energy system in 2050. It will be the main focus of the informal meeting of energy ministers near Budapest, on 2-3 May.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY ACTION PLAN 2020

Another item to fall into the Hungarians' laps is the long-delayed energy efficiency action plan 2020. This revamping of the original 2006 action plan was almost ready to be adopted by the Commission back in October 2009. However, Oettinger has prevaricated, finally settling on ideas that do not include binding energy targets. Here, given Council's reticence, the Hungarians will not have too much difficulty in guiding an initial debate...

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