Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Sixth Report






Draft Council Decision adopting a multiannual programme for action in the field of energy: "Intelligent Energy for Europe" Programme (2003-2006).

Legal base:

Article 175(1)EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting


Document originated:

9 April 2002

Deposited in Parliament:

9 May 2002


Trade and Industry

Basis of consideration:

EM of 22 May 2002

Previous Committee Report:

None; but see footnote below

To be discussed in Council:

No date set

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:




    1. Although the Commission had introduced some time previously measures to promote international co-operation in the energy sector (SYNERGY), to promote renewable energy resources (ALTENER), and to promote energy efficiency (SAVE), these were first combined into an overall energy programme in 1998[39], along with a number of other measures[40]. That programme — which had an overall budget of _175 million — runs until the end of 2002, and, in the current document, the Commission is proposing a new Programme covering the period 2003-2006.
    2. The current document

    3. The Commission points out that, since 1998, there have been a number of important developments in this area. These include those set out last year in its Green Paper[41] on the security of energy supply (which emphasized the need to shift away from a supply policy to one focussed on demand, and the importance of non-polluting forms of energy to help combat global warming) and in its Communication[42] on sustainable development (which identified the energy and transport sectors as the main source of greenhouse gas emissions). It points out that these in turn have led it to put forward a number of individual proposals, but that other action is needed to reinforce these.
    4. It then examines the part played so far by the First Energy Framework Programme. It concludes that, although this has made a contribution to the Community's strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it has not provided the economies of scale and administrative efficiency expected. In particular, independent experts have highlighted the difficulties which have arisen over the existence of a number of small programmes with very different aims; the lack of consistency between the objectives of some programmes and the resources allocated to them; the need to modernise the methods and procedures for selection, evaluation and management; and the unsatisfactory way in which the programme has been promoted and its results disseminated. Accordingly, they have suggested that the programme would be more effective if it concentrated on two areas - alternative energy sources and energy savings - after 2002.
    5. The Commission has therefore proposed a new energy programme for the period 2003-2006, entitled "Intelligent Energy for Europe", which it sees as the main Community instrument for non-technological support in the field of energy. There would be an overall budget of _215 million, divided between the main areas, as follows:

    • the promotion of renewable energy (similar to ALTENER) — _86 million;

    • the promotion of energy efficiency (similar to SAVE) — _75 million;

    • the promotion of renewable energy and energy saving in developing countries (called COOPENER, but similar to SYNERGY) — _19 million;

    • the energy aspects of transport (called STEER, but dealing with certain matters currently carried out under SAVE) — _35 million.

    1. In each area, there would be six types of action, involving the implementation of strategies to promote sustainable development, security of supply, competitiveness and environmental protection; the creation of suitable structures, including those at regional and local levels; the promotion of sustainable energy systems and equipment to accelerate their deployment on the market; the development of information, education and
    2. training structures, and the utilisation of results; a monitoring of the implementation and impact of Community policy; and an impact assessment of programme activities.

    3. The Commission also examines ways in which the new programme might be administered, where it sees the choice lying between undertaking the task itself and delegating it to an executive agency. It says that it is considering presenting a proposal adopting the latter approach, but that this would be dependent on the Council adopting the more general proposal[43] it has put forward laying down a statute for such agencies.
    4. The Government's view

    5. In his Explanatory Memorandum of 22 May 2002, the Minister of State for Energy and Construction at the Department of Trade and Industry (Mr Brian Wilson) says that the grouping of energy programmes into a single Framework Programme was seen by the Government as playing an important role in the formulation of a coherent strategy not only for renewable energy but for European energy policy generally. He says that the Government wishes to see a continuation of the activities undertaken under ALTENER, SAVE AND SYNERGY, and supports their remaining within a single programme.
    6. However, he also comments that the proposal appears to rely heavily on the delegation of the management and administration of the Intelligent Europe programme to an executive agency, the legal basis for which has yet to be agreed, and he points out that, although this appears to offer potential efficiency savings, the establishment of such an agency could set a precedent for programme management beyond the energy sector. He says that no definitive decision can be taken until the details of what is envisaged are known, and that, if outsourcing to an agency were eventually agreed, the UK would seek to ensure that this did not reduce the Commission's ownership and its commitment to see that the programme meets its targets.
    7. The Minister also points out that, although the programme identifies a number of ambitious aims, it fails to acknowledge that it is but part of the Community and Member States effort, or to identify targets which are directly attributable to the programme. He suggests that, without such objectives, it will be difficult to evaluate the programme, and he stresses the need to avoid double counting of benefits if Community and national funds are supporting the same projects, with care also being needed to prevent the programme claiming credit for emission reductions achieved through other European or national policies or measures.
    8. Finally, the Minister compares the proposed budget of _215 million with the _175 million available for the first Programme, and observes that the Council will need to consider this in relation to the provision available within the current Financial Perspective ceilings.
    9. Conclusion

    10. Although there are a number of detailed issues which the Government has indicated it will wish to pursue, this proposal essentially represents an extension and rationalisation of an existing programme, and consequently does not in general appear to raise any major issues. The one possible exception to this is the Commission's preference for the new programme being administered by an executive agency, but we have noted that this would be the subject of a further proposal (and is in any case dependent upon the Council adopting a more general proposal, which we have been considering separately). In view of this, we are clearing the present document.


39   (18715) 13035/97; see HC 155-xv (1997-98), paragraph 2 (4 February 1998) and HC 155-xxi (1997-98), paragraph 1 (11 March 1998). Back

40   These included forward studies and monitoring of the markets (ETAP); the stimulation of technologies for the clean and efficient use of solid fuels (CARNOT); and cooperation in the nuclear sector (SURE). Back

41   (22096) 5619/01; see HC 28-xi (2000-01), paragraph 2 (4 April 2001). Back

42   (22437) 9175/01; see HC 152-i (2001-02), paragraph 42 (18 July 2001). Back

43   (23389) 7644/02; see HC 152-xxxi (2001-02), paragraph 5 (22 May 2002). Back

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