Presidency priorities

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For the next six months Germany, the country with the world's most active wind market, takes over the presidency of the European Union's Council of Ministers. Is Germany's pro-renewables outlook likely to have any positive effect on wind markets in the rest of the union?

Officially, renewables get no special mention in Germany's list of priorities for its six month stint at the presidency. However, reading between the lines, there are policy trends which could be seized upon by renewables lobbyists and used to advantage.

The government sees as one of its most important goals the implementation of the aims set out in the European Commission's white paper, Growth, Competitiveness and Employment. As its major and only specific energy theme, the white paper calls for "a wide reaching expansion of energy infrastructure in order to increase economic trade between the member countries, and with positive effects on employment."

No mention is made in the white paper of the contribution which could be made by renewable energies, but the German government now stresses that "increased investment in future technologies and growth sectors are an important pre-condition to creating an industrial structure in Europe which is competitive worldwide in the long term." Since renewables can be classed as both "future technologies" and "growth sectors" there appears to be room for lobbying here.

Later in its working framework for the presidency the government states: "A key role in the growth process falls to the smaller and middle sized companies. They above all are in a position to open up new employment possibilities." These companies, again a category into which the wind industry naturally falls, will be given special policy attention "so that they can develop their growth and innovation powers to the full."

The environment gets a special mention, too: "Maintaining a viable environment is one of the basic conditions for the welfare of Europe," says the government. The EU's white paper discusses the constituents of an "environmentally compatible development" and talks of clean technologies as a key factor. It also considers the possibility of an eco-tax on energy consumption, although no mention is made of Germany's suggestion that part of the revenue from such a tax go to supporting the development of renewable energies.

It would seem that it is up to renewable lobbyists to bring these points home and stress how well wind power fits into a policy for encouraging industrial growth, competitiveness and employment. But they will have to fight hard to gain any concessions.

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