The Hungarian presidency of the European Union (EU) called upon an extraordinary Energy Council meeting on 21 March 2011, in order to discuss "recent international developments and their impact on world energy markets and the EU energy sector." The meeting was primarily motivated by the consequences of the political movements in North Africa as an important energy supplier to Europe, as well as the consequences of the nuclear accident at Fukushima, Japan. Commissioner Oettinger addressed the Energy Council, and the Council will then "exchange views" as to the response to be given at EU and Member States' level.
In the list of "messages" that the Presidency highlighted at the end of the discussions are:
as regards political movements in North Africa:
- "member states have so far been able to cope with the consequences for the gas and oil markets";
- "however, the Council stressed the need to keep these markets and their impact on the EU under close watch, including as regards price developments";
- "the Council underlined the need to fully implement the orientations agreed for the new 2020 strategy";
- "when conditions permit, the EU partnership with southern countries should be taken forward";
As regards nuclear safety:
- "the priority is to ensure that the highest standards are in force; improving safety is a continuing process";
- "the Council welcomed voluntary steps taken by national authorities and industry operators regarding the review of the safety of nuclear facilities";
- "there is a shared willingness to launch a process for defining a comprehensive risk and safety assessment ("stress test") of nuclear plants in Europe":
- "the importance of transparency regarding both the outcome of this assessment and measures taken by member states at national level was underlined";
- "member states and the Commission invited ENSREG (European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group) and other relevant bodies to define the scope and modalities of such tests, making use of the available expertise and in due course of the lessons to be learnt from the recent accident";
- "the Council took note of the possible areas (flood risks, seismin risks, back-up systems, emergency procedures) that could be the basis for this assessment";
- "the Council underlined the need to involve neighbouring third countries in a similar safety and risk assessment for existing and future plants."
- Website of the Council;
- Press release, Extraordinary Council meeting, Transport, Telecommunications and Energy, Energy Items, Brussels, 21 March 2011.
Picture: (c) Council of the European Union