Renewables not a EU presidency priority

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The EU's draft Directive on renewables is not included in Germany's list of priorities for its six month's in the presidency chair, starting January 1. Mention of renewables is restricted to an aside -- and it does not appear until five pages into Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's statement. At the top of his list is employment.

Reference to renewables is made by Schröder in connection with the need for harmonisation of taxes in the environment and energy sectors. Such harmonisation is necessary for finance policy reasons and also makes economic and ecological sense, he says. Ecotaxes are becoming a widespread European concept, he stresses. Germany plans new taxes or tax hikes on oil, gas and electricity from April 1.

In a separate statement on EU presidency priorities, Germany's environment ministry echoes Schröder, stressing the significance of harmonisation of energy taxes in the EU as "an important building block for a Europe-wide climate strategy." Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin makes specific reference to the creation of fair purchase arrangements for renewable energies. Previously he has stated that there is good potential for Brussels to achieve EU-wide rules that "do not hinder the positive developments in Germany, but rather strengthen them."

In mid December the German ministry for economic affairs, responsible for energy in Germany, had not issued a statement on its contribution to Germany's EU presidency. It is expected to in mid January. But the ministry says its aims are to achieve greater harmonisation in the market framework for the electricity and gas sectors in member countries. Secondly, it wishes to strengthen the EU's contribution to reducing CO2 emissions, including the contribution of renewables. It also notes that in the debate on harmonisation of support mechanisms for renewable energies at European level, the ministry is not committed to any particular principle, be it Germany's REFIT mechanism of fixed kilowatt hour subsidies, or a system of minimal national quotas for green power in electricity supply, as outlined in the draft Directive on renewables (Windpower Monthly, December 1998).

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