THE WEEK AHEAD: LITHUANIA TO FOCUS ON ENERGY DURING EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENCY

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As Lithuania begins its six-month term July 1 as president of the Council of the European Union, leaders of the Baltic country say ensuring affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy will be high on the agenda.

Holding the rotating Council presidency means setting agendas and steering debates on mainly budgetary, economic, and societal matters for member countries, which will now number 28 with Croatia’s ascension, effective July 1.

Lithuania's term will end Dec. 31.

In its Guide to the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council—a document outlining its priorities during the six-month presidency—leaders said energy security in the European Union requires all member states to join a single market in which “energy can move around freely, with open competition for providers and free choice for users."

"The Lithuanian Presidency comes at a key point when member states have to take the necessary steps to ensure that the internal energy market can be completed by 2014, as demanded in February 2011 by heads of state and the government of the European Council.” 

As detailed in a May 22 Energy and Climate Reportarticle, EU leaders are committed to support renewable energy but also plan to expedite the search for new domestic energy sources such as shale gas to close a competitive gap between the EU energy industry and its counterpart in the United States, which is benefiting from low energy prices amid a natural gas boom.

The European Union is facing demands from European energy and electricity producers, as well as European business interests alarmed about the high energy costs driven by climate change priorities, and a wariness of nuclear and expensive renewable energy.

Prior to the presidency's opening ceremony July 5 in Lithuania's capital of Vilnius, the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Commission's Joint Research Center will co-host a conference July 4, also in Vilnius, on "Scientific Support to Energy Security in the Baltic Sea Region." 

European Parliament to Vote on Carbon Measure

The European Parliament is expected to vote at a July 2-3 session on a measure to amend the European Union’s Emissions Trading System to delay the auction of 900 million carbon permits to boost carbon prices.

As detailed in a June 19 article, the allowances would be introduced back into the system after 2015 in a process known as “backloading.”

The proposed move is in response to concerns about a surplus of ETS allowances that caused prices to fall to a level considered too low to stimulate low-carbon investment by ETS participants.