The Green Priorities of the Danish Presidency
The Danish Government has taken over the Presidency of the EU in one of the most difficult moments in the history of the community. But even though the economic horizon looks dark, we simply cannot afford not to invest in the green agenda. As environmental problems become increasingly more serious and resources become scarce, tomorrow’s successful economies will be the ones that embrace the green agenda - not the ones who try to delay it.
Therefore green growth will also be one of the main priorities of the Danish presidency.
Firstly, the EU needs to improve its resource- and energy-efficiency, as this will both serve to improve the environment, and be an important step in the direction of green growth.
Increased resource-efficiency will be sought through many different instruments. Among the most prominent will be the work on the framework for the 7th Environmental Action Programme. The Danish Minister for the Environment, Ida Auken, recently stated that she sees the Environment Action Programme as a great opportunity to enhance resource efficiency in the European Union.
A related key priority will be the Energy Efficiency Directive, which the Danes hope to conclude within their Presidency. The Danes will work to secure an ambitious directive, and generally work to secure the adoption of initiatives promoting energy efficiency so we can reach the 20 % efficiency goal in 2020.
Integrating green considerations in more EU-policies
Secondly, the Danish presidency needs to focus on how to integrate energy, climate and environmental considerations in more EU-policies.
The Danes will chair important negotiations on a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. Here the task will be to direct the CAP in a sustainable and green direction. The Commission has proposed a CAP reform which includes a 30 % greening of the direct payments to the farmers. It will be a big challenge to make sure that this proposal is not watered down by short sighted economic interests during the negotiations. The CAP reform should, among other things, aim to improve the biodiversity management and to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
A clear green focus will also be sought in the fishery policies, where the Danes will work towards an increased use of selective fishing methods, in order to reduce the catch of unwanted catches.
Related to this, the Danes will work towards promoting a well-functioning internal market for energy through expansion of the European energy-infrastructure which will increase competition, give consumers and companies lower electricity prices, and make it easier and cheaper to integrate increasing quantities of renewable energy into the energy network.
Thirdly, the Danes will seek to secure a continued ambitious European climate action strategy. Particularly, the Council will follow up on the results of the international climate negotiations, and prepare for further international negotiations.
Additionally, the Council will work on the conclusions on the Commissions Low Carbon Economy Roadmap 2050. In relation to this, I know that it is a priority of the Danes to work on the adoption of conclusions stating what actions that should be taken in the coming decades, in order to reach the long term goal of reaching 80-95% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Presidency will specifically seek to secure, that the incentives to promote energy efficiency are adequate, so that the goals can be reached.
Denmark as the good example
Energy-efficiency, the greening of important EU-policy areas, and a continued ambitious EU climate action effort: These are some of the main priorities in the ambitious Danish green agenda of the Presidency. But do they have a chance of succeeding?
It looks like a difficult mission. But I think that it gives Denmark some credibility that the country itself is showing the way by introducing very ambitious environmental targets itself.
The Government pledged, soon after its inauguration, very ambitious environmental goals, among them a commitment to reducing the reduction of CO2 by 40 % in 2020, and a commitment to making windmills generate 50% of the electricity in 2020.
There is therefore no doubt, that the green agenda is not mere intentions. The Danish Government is extremely committed to the green agenda. This will hopefully result in important steps being taken in the direction of a greener and more sustainable future.