EU and Eastern Partnership countries step-up cooperation on energy efficiency
Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers in charge of energy efficiency from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine met in Chisinau with Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Dominique Ristori, the European Commission's Director General for Energy, and Jean-Christophe Belliard, Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service. Hosted by the Republic of Moldova, the dialogue included a foreign affairs session and a sectoral cooperation one on energy efficiency issues.
Commissioner Hahn said: "The EU will continue to support partner countries in their efforts to become more energy efficient as a top priority, for the benefit of citizens across the region. Developing and implementing cost-effective energy efficiency policy is key for improving energy security, competitiveness, boosting economic growth, creating jobs - and it contributes to preventing climate change. We are focused on delivering concrete results, with a clear programme for cooperation until 2020 and beyond.''
The Foreign Ministers exchanged views on the common challenges and best practice solutions, both in terms of foreign policy for the region and for advancing the necessary reforms for an increased state and societal resilience. In preparation for the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit taking place on 24 November in Brussels, Commissioner Hahn, Deputy Secretary General Belliard and Foreign Ministers agreed on the need for concrete deliverables of high impact for the citizens, including the extension of the core TEN-T network to the partner countries, further steps on digital area and cheaper access to broadband internet, facilitating lending for SMEs in local currency, bolstering intraregional trade and a youth package.
On energy efficiency, Commissioner Hahn and Director General Ristori with the respective Ministers examined opportunities for translating this priority into policy and investment opportunities. Following the example of Georgia and Ukraine, where joint missions of EU and IFIs identified key areas for short-term regulatory and institutional changes, other interested partner countries may benefit of this initiative. The EU, in close coordination with the partner governments and with the international financial institutions, would continue providing funds for energy efficiency projects/investments for companies, citizens and the public sector.
The informal Eastern Partnership dialogues are held twice a year and hosted in turn by the Eastern Partnership countries. They allow for an open, informal exchange of views between the partner countries and the EU high level representatives on foreign policy and sectorial cooperation areas.