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Luxembourg EU presidency to tackle climate governance

Luxembourg took over the rotating Presidency of the Council of Ministers fron 1st July and has climate governance as one of its key issues for its six monthly presidency until the end of the year.The Council adopted conclusions on the implementation of the Energy Union strategy in early June, focusing on how to provide consumers - both households and businesses - with secure, sustainable and affordable energy and to encourage the investment needed in this area. The conclusions set out guidelines for achieving one of the main goals of the Energy Union strategy, which is to give consumers secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy. The Energy Union strategy has five main dimensions, which are closely interrelated and mutually reinforcing.The implementation of all five dimensions, including the agreed 2030 climate and energy framework, will require the development of a reliable and transparent governance system, in line with the March 2015 and October 2014 European Council conclusions. Commissioner Šefčovič gave a brief presentation on the governance dimension, which he proposes to develop along the following lines:

– a streamlined and more integrated governance system, taking into account different dimensions (in particular, economic, environmental, climate and transport policy issues)

– a factual basis, with improved data collection – simplified and aligned reporting obligations – development of energy and climate national plans based on validated country "fiches"

– very close cooperation between member states, the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament This work will feed into the preparation of the state of the Energy Union report, which will be presented in the autumn.

Overall, the Luxembourg Presidency will make every effort to accelerate the transition towards a green economy with low greenhouse gas emissions. The Presidency will also encourage the emergence of an innovative, circular and competitive economy which is energy-efficient and respectful of biodiversity and natural resources, minimises waste and encourages cost-effective recycling, in particular by handling ongoing legislative matters, such as those relating to air quality and reducing CO2 emissions.

One of the cornerstones of the Strategy on climate change will be the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The Luxembourg Presidency will begin working on the proposal to reform the ETS after an agreement has been reached on the market stability reserve (MSR) mechanism.

The EU Biodiversity Strategy will undergo a mid-term review during the second semester of 2015. The Luxembourg Presidency will examine the results in detail and propose the adoption of conclusions by the Council in that regard.

The Luxembourg Presidency will continue working on the revision of the Europe 2020 strategy by 'greening' the European Semester to integrate better environmental viability into the wider cycle of economic governance.

This requirement for sustainability will also be at the heart of the Presidency's actions concerning the various international negotiations that will dominate the global agenda on sustainable development: the Special Summit on Sustainable Development in New York in September or the 21st Conference of Parties at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris in December.

During the Paris Conference on climate change, international negotiations should lead to the adoption of a new, ambitious and binding treaty with universal participation, to ensure that global warming is kept below two degrees Celsius.  The Luxembourg Presidency will steer the discussions with a view to adopting an ambitious negotiating mandate and combine its efforts with those of the European Commission to ensure that the European Union can make its voice heard.

Sustainability must also be the fundamental principle for the future development of European agriculture. The Luxembourg Presidency will also focus on simplifying rules and procedures. A new regulatory framework on organic farming adapted to new challenges, thereby enabling harmonious development in this sector, the impact of the Russian embargo on certain EU agricultural products and the expiry of milk quotas are some of the priorities.

The principle of sustainability will also guide the actions of the Luxembourg Presidency in the policy area of fisheries.

The principle of simplification must be applied to the implementation of the new rules to be adopted in the field of phytosanitary protection, in respect of which the Luxembourg Presidency will take steps to reach a first-reading agreement with the European Parliament.

The Presidency hopes to be able to contribute to the democratic debate by beginning work on the revision of the authorisation procedure for genetically modified organisms in foodstuffs and animal feed. Consumer interests will be further protected by work to improve consumer information, in particular in relation to the labelling of fats.

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Issue 43