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A renewed vision for the pharmaceutical sector

A renewed vision for the pharmaceutical sector

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A renewed vision for the pharmaceutical sector

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Pharmaceutical and cosmetic products

A renewed vision for the pharmaceutical sector

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 21 December 2008 – ‘Safe, Innovative and Accessible Medicines: a Renewed Vision for the Pharmaceutical Sector’ [COM(2008) 666 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Communication lays down objectives relating to the future of the pharmaceutical sector.

The new regulatory framework should contribute to reinforcing the safety of pharmaceuticals, encouraging innovation and making medicines more accessible for European patients.

Making progress towards a single market in pharmaceuticals

Better access to medicines

European patients should be able to benefit from scientific progress and obtain the medicines that they need for therapeutic purposes. Two options have been envisaged:

  • to put the emphasis on smaller markets thanks to cooperation with Member States up to 2010;
  • to identify, by 2010, ways to optimise the functioning of the network of European Union medicines authorities.

Transparency and the exchange of information in the field of pricing and reimbursement should be improved.

Better regulation for a more competitive industry

Regulation should be improved, particularly in the field of clinical trials. The first step towards improving regulation should be an assessment of the application of Directive 2001/20/EC on clinical trials by 2010.

Safer medicines for better informed citizens

The safety of medicines should be reinforced by the legislative proposal on pharmacovigilance. In parallel, it is important to provide the patients who request it with reliable and objective information on the medicines to which they have access.

The environment issue also comes into play via the proposing of measures aimed at reducing the negative effects of pharmaceuticals on the environment and public health.

Taking on the opportunities and challenges of globalisation

Tackling worldwide health challenges

To combat the circulation of illegal medicines, it is necessary to reinforce the exchange of information at international level by 2012 and to help third countries to take appropriate measures.

In the area of pandemics, bilateral and multilateral relations should be strengthened.

Global cooperation and harmonisation

Inspection mechanisms with the United States, Japan and Canada should be established by 2010. In addition, bilateral cooperation with Russia, India and China should be extended.

International harmonisation is advocated, particularly by means of the International Conference on Harmonisation (ICH). It is also recommended that the areas of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) be used for the simplification and convergence of rules between the United States and the European Union.

Finally, for the European Union to be internationally competitive, the Communication encourages it to implement and enforce the framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as well as the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) in particular as regards the protection of intellectual property rights.

Making science deliver for European patients

Supporting pharmaceutical research

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is to accelerate medicine development so as to make new treatment options available to patients earlier.

New horizons in medicine

These new horizons include two main challenges:

  • advanced therapies such as regenerative medicine should be reevaluated by 2012;
  • new technologies such as pharmacogenomics which make it possible to offer patients personalised treatment.

Background

At the beginning of the 21st century, Europe is facing challenges such as pharmaceutical innovation, shortcomings in the availability of medicines, the increasing globalisation of the sector and scientific breakthroughs.

It therefore appears important to shape a Community framework which allows continued progress toward a single and sustainable market in pharmaceuticals to be made, advantage to be taken of the opportunities and challenges associated with globalisation, and European patients to benefit from scientific progress.

Social development in the context of globalisation

Social development in the context of globalisation

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Social development in the context of globalisation

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Employment and social policy > Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

Social development in the context of globalisation

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee – Promoting core labour standards and improving social governance in the context of globalisation [COM(2001) 416 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

Summary

Citizens are increasingly aware that global market governance has developed more quickly than global social governance, leading to unbalanced economic and social rules and structures.

With an eye to participating in the realisation of an equitable global economic system, the European Union presents a strategy to promote social development and core labour standards at global level.

The interface between globalisation and the promotion of international labour standards is complex. Trade and investments have a definite impact on social development, and more generally on sustainable development. To ensure that this strategy is effective a comprehensive approach is necessary.

In line with the approach of the Council on Trade and Employment of October 1999, the European Commission proposes reaffirming the universality of internationally recognised core labour standards (freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, effective abolition of child labour, elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation). The Commission also recalls its support for the work of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and its collaboration with other international organisations, notably the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The rejection of approaches based on core labour standards for protectionist purposes or sanctions-based approaches is also reiterated.

The Commission encourages both making use of and strengthening existing tools and adopting instruments and measures designed to encourage the universal application of core labour standards in various fields of action, both at European and international levels.

Strategy at international level

The Union confirms the key role of the ILO in promoting compliance with core labour standards and affirms the need to reinforce the effectiveness of the ILO’s instruments. Hence, the Union encourages in particular giving greater publicity to the supervisory mechanism, more effective monitoring, and more technical assistance. It also seems necessary to discuss new mechanisms to encourage compliance with core labour standards and a new mechanism for the regular review of social policy at the country level.

The Union also proposes launching discussion and reflection at international level in the international organisations devoted to development (ILO, WTO, etc.). Such a dialogue would help identify policies which effectively reinforce the contribution of trade to social development and ensure a certain consistency of the policies.

Strategy at European level

The Union proposes promoting core labour standards via the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). The GSP facilitates access to Community markets for developing countries which effectively apply the core labour standards and grants them additional trade preferences. The Union thus wishes to make the GSP more attractive and more transparent. Its base should be extended to the four core labour standards identified in the ILO Declaration of 1998, hence leading to a temporary withdrawal of GSP benefits in the event of serious and systematic violation of one of the core labour standards. The Union wishes to encourage other countries to adopt similar social encouragement systems.

The Union will place more emphasis on the promotion of core labour standards in its overall development policy. In line with the approach applied in the framework of the Cotonou Agreement, specific rules devoted to social development and the promotion of core labour standards will therefore be included in future trade and cooperation agreements.

Sustainability impact assessments will also be used in the framework of future negotiations and trade agreements.

Voluntary private initiatives

The Commission reaffirms the importance of socially responsible corporate behaviour within global labour markets. As the Union already stressed in its Green Paper on Corporate Social Responsibility, it is necessary, with an eye to transparency and effectiveness, to ensure coherence in the content of codes of conduct and social labels and to base them on common core standards, in other words the ILO standards. Thus, in 2000 the United Nations launched the “Global Compact” initiative, encouraging private companies to embrace and enact in their corporate practices the basic principles of Decent Work.

Context

The 1995 Copenhagen World Summit for Social Development and the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work led to widespread recognition of the universality of core labour standards. The WTO has also been involved in promoting these standards, by analysing the interface between globalisation, trade and social development. However, it has been made quite clear that respect for these standards cannot justify abuses in the form of protectionist or sanctions-based measures. However, the efforts of the international community must be continued.

Related Acts

Report from the ILO World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation “A fair globalisation — creating opportunities for all” of 24 February 2004

The World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation states that globalisation can and must change. It considers it necessary to create fair globalisation without exclusion. A coherent approach covering the economic, social and environmental dimension and more effective governance, both at international and national level, can contribute to addressing globalisation challenges.

The European Commission, which has actively participated in the work of the World Commission, has incorporated this dimension in the European Union’s external and internal policies.

Conclusions of the Council on the Communication from the Commission: “Promoting core labour standards”. External Relations Council – 21 July 2003 [Not published in the Official Journal]

The Council supports the Commission’s action to promote social development at international level. It states certain priorities in this connection:

  • promote effective dialogue between the WHO and the ILO in order to ensure consistency on this question within the international organisations concerned;
  • reliance on GSP to promote core labour standards;
  • integration of core labour standards and social governance in the European Union’s development policy;
  • promotion of effective and time-bound programmes, to eliminate the worst forms of child labour.

A stronger economic and political partnership for the 21st century

A stronger economic and political partnership for the 21st century

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A stronger economic and political partnership for the 21st century

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Industrialised countries

A stronger economic and political partnership for the 21st century

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee of 18 May 2005: A stronger EU-US partnership and a more open market for the 21st century [COM(2005) 196 – Not published in the Official Journal]

Summary

The European Commission wants to give new quality to the economic partnership between the European Union (EU) and the United States. In this initial stage of reviewing a global partnership, which is designed to include a barrier-free market, the proposals in question focus mainly on trade and investment, the highest volume of which worldwide is generated as a result of the relationship between the EU and the United States. In 2003, trade in goods and services came to almost EUR 600 billion and related principally to foreign direct investment (FDI).

The Commission’s proposals form the basis for boosting growth and employment while respecting sustainable development and removing the barriers to trade and investment. They also seek to provide a new framework which can be used to meet common challenges such as international competition.

Improving the functioning of the transatlantic partnership

The Commission is proposing a number of initiatives in order to improve the functioning of the transatlantic partnership in three areas: regulation, knowledge and innovation, and border control.

The initiatives relating to regulation are based principally on policy cooperation, which is to be extended to a greater number of sectors in order to promote the transatlantic market. Policy cooperation within a well-defined regulatory framework is designed to guarantee fair competition in a situation in which the volume of trade is high, and forms part of the efforts to ensure a high level of consumer protection.

However, a certain degree of flexibility is needed in view of the difficulty of using the same model for all the sectors concerned. Cooperation can also vary in intensity, ranging from the exchange of information to the adoption of binding standards and including the establishment of ties on a formal or informal basis.

Other regulatory initiatives to strengthen cooperation between the two parties should also be envisaged in order to eliminate barriers to trade and thus promote competitiveness. They include the following:

  • facilitation of investment, in particular by eliminating ownership restrictions in the United States;
  • competition policy for those concerned based on the coordination of enforcement activities and the exchange of non-confidential information in an appropriate framework;
  • the opening-up of procurement markets between the United States and the EU despite the barriers which EU companies still face when trying to access the American market; this calls for the deepening of relations between the two partners at bilateral level and the definition of a clear framework at multilateral level, such as within the World Trade Organization (WTO);
  • the negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on aviation services between the EU and the United States, which are currently confined within a regulatory framework reflecting the political and technological landscape of the 1940s; an agreement of this kind would provide a sound economic and legal basis for transatlantic air services;
  • maritime transport, which carries 90% of all international trade: cooperation in this field should be strengthened and could include issues such as the law of the sea, data exchange, maritime security and environmental protection;
  • financial markets: access to capital is fundamental to investment and innovation, which is why functional equivalence should be encouraged in various financial areas, such as accounting standards and insurance, and should be promoted and strengthened in order to achieve true integration of the European and US financial markets;
  • the free movement of persons is essential: it has not been fully achieved for nationals of certain Member States or for companies and their affiliates; the possibility of granting affiliates the special status of “trusted persons” should be examined in order to facilitate international movement of travellers while bearing in mind security procedures;
  • the mutual recognition of professional qualifications should be encouraged, particularly in economic sectors.

Initiatives relating to knowledge and innovation will contribute fully to the growth and integration of the European and US economies. They relate to the following:

  • new technologies. as regards information and communication technologies (ICT) between the EU and the United States, coordination of the regulators, going beyond EU-US dialogue on the information society, should be strengthened in order to prevent the emergence of new obstacles in a rapidly evolving area; with regard to space, a structured dialogue should take place covering key areas such as Galileo and GPS, and the elimination of barriers to the creation of a properly functioning transatlantic market for the space industry;
  • the protection of intellectual property rights as a fundamental economic objective shared by both the EU and the US: the strengthening of cooperation in this area involves efforts at domestic and international level to combat counterfeiting and piracy; it also involves observance of the standards established by the WTO;
  • research and development: as these are key elements of the renewed Lisbon programme and generate growth, they will be the subject of greater cooperation between the two partners under the 7th framework programme for research and development (7th FPRD) in areas such as industrial materials, fuel cells and biotechnology;
  • energy: the EU and the US should work together more closely by means of policy dialogues in order to face new challenges and find alternatives to traditional energy sources, such as by developing clean technologies and renewable energies;
  • higher education and vocational training: as the current agreement on higher education and vocational training expires at the end of 2005, it should be renewed and reinforced in order to promote exchanges of university teachers, researchers and students and develop measures on issues concerning the quality and compatibility of education and training systems.

New security measures for border controls were imposed in the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2001. The Commission feels that the right balance must be struck between heightened security requirements and the continuation of open and secure trade and passenger transport.

While reconciling trade and security requirements, the transatlantic market will be based mainly on the principles of reciprocity and mutual recognition. These principles will apply to the following areas:

  • implementing the agreement on enhanced customs cooperation in the area of transport security, for example with regard to the concept of single points of access and e-customs;
  • exchanging best practice in order to achieve equivalence between the European concept of “authorised economic operator” (AEO) and the US Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT);
  • avoiding duplications of controls which arise from the application of parallel sets of – sometimes contradictory – existing standards;
  • reducing the risk of trade barriers associated with the implementation of the new US law to combat bioterrorism;
  • developing global security standards, notably by promoting the security standards agreed between the EU and the US through the World Customs Organization (WCO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO);
  • combating corporate fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, corruption and the financing of terrorism.

Political involvement essential

The New Transatlantic Agenda (NTA), which was established in 1995, should be renewed. Its most important goals have been achieved regarding the intensity of exchanges between the EU and the United States on a vast range of subjects. Regular dialogue has been established between interlocutors who previously had very little contact. There has also been increased cooperation on foreign policy issues.

However, economic cooperation has had a limited impact, particularly with regard to the legislative and regulatory involvement of the stakeholders. In the same way, the EU-US dialogue has suffered from a relative lack of political commitment, with the EU sometimes being poorly understood.

This is why none of the economic initiatives presented in this communication can be successful without real political intent translated into practical action. This could include the following, for example:

  • a high-level regulatory cooperation forum, which would meet before EU-US Summits and submit an annual roadmap with appropriate objectives and priorities;
  • a dialogue between European and US legislators on the priorities for regulatory cooperation;
  • cooperation to address joint concerns regarding international policy or even to advance bilateral proposals in international fora;
  • the conclusion of binding sectoral agreements.

For them to have a full impact on dialogue, transatlantic relations should be more strategic and effective in order to realise a shared vision of a more democratic, peaceful and prosperous international order. A new transatlantic declaration could be drawn up underlining the values and developing the priorities of joint action based on the recognition of the economic interdependence of the United States and the EU.

Context

This communication is in line with the “EU-US Declaration on Strengthening our Economic Partnership” (PDF ), which was adopted at the EU-US Summit at Dromoland Castle (Ireland) in 2004, during which the parties concerned put forward ideas on how to strengthen transatlantic economic integration. Reviewing and strengthening the partnership in this way can lend new impetus to relations between the EU and the United States.

The Commission is proposing that an economic declaration be adopted and that political oversight be put in place to ensure that these commitments are effective, particularly through the adoption of binding agreements.

Moreover, prior to the drawing up of a joint economic declaration, a public consultation was launched by the Commission in 2004 in order to identify the areas with which the present communication deals.

Related Acts

EU-US Declaration, of 20 June 2005, at the Washington Summit: “Initiative to Enhance Transatlantic Economic Integration and Growth” (PDF )

The EU and the United States declared that they wished to remove the impediments to trade and investment and enhance growth and innovation with a view to making further progress towards integration of the transatlantic market and providing more opportunities for businesses.
In the Declaration, the two partners listed ten points covering areas in which action should be taken and which are dealt with in greater detail in the Initiative annexed to the Declaration:

  • promoting regulatory cooperation and standards by identifying cooperation and coordination mechanisms in order to improve regulatory quality and reduce divergences; exchanges of experience and the sharing of knowledge are encouraged through a high-level dialogue in accordance with the roadmap for EU-US regulatory cooperation (PDF )and through a high-level forum bringing together regulators representing both partners;
  • stimulation of open and competitive capital markets in order to ensure that transatlantic financial markets operate seamlessly; the main areas for action include efforts to combat financial fraud and money laundering, the reform of financial markets and the improvement of dialogue on macroeconomic and structural issues of common interest;
  • spurring innovation and technological development, which are a source of growth and prosperity, by promoting cooperation, for example, in basic research, space research, nanotechnologies, transport, cyber-security and IT; the initiatives would affect sectors relating to higher education and vocational training, commerce, information and even medicine;
  • enhancing trade, development and security by strengthening customs cooperation in order to ensure the security of persons and goods in transit; in this regard, the WCO already offers a framework of standards on the security of world trade; cooperation between the two partners should also be strengthened by adopting security standards, particularly as regards air cargo traffic, improved cooperation in research and development of security-related technologies, better compatibility of the EU’s Authorised Economic Operator concept and the US Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), measures to facilitate business and tourist travel (“trusted persons” initiative) and a policy of reciprocal visa exempt travel for short-term stays;
  • promoting energy efficiency, energy security, renewable energies and economic development and encouraging new clean energy technologies for sustainable and coordinated policies; the two partners also stated that they would support developing countries in this area;
  • protecting intellectual property rights by actively combating piracy and counterfeiting, applying international standards and ensuring the efficient application of standards on patents;
  • facilitating investment by providing efficient, comprehensive and easily accessible information on investment regimes and policies and by removing existing obstacles;
  • improving coordination on competition policy and the enforcement of competition rules, in particular by exploring ways of exchanging confidential information, which does not currently take place;
  • strengthening coordination and cooperation on procurement;
  • encouraging cooperation in the field of services, in particular with regard to aviation services and the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

Responsibility for implementing these initiatives and establishing the work programmes lies with the senior levels of EU and US government, with progress to be reviewed at the EU-US Summits. At the same time, cooperation between legislators and stakeholder consultation will also be encouraged in order to help strengthen the partnership.

An Energy Policy for Europe

An Energy Policy for Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about An Energy Policy for Europe

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Environment > Tackling climate change

An Energy Policy for Europe

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Council and the European Parliament of 10 January 2007, “An energy policy for Europe” [COM(2007) 1 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Communication, a strategic review of the European energy situation, introduces a complete set of European Energy Policy measures (the ‘energy’ package).

JUSTIFICATIONS FOR A EUROPEAN ENERGY POLICY

The European Union (EU) faces serious energy challenges concerning sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions as well as security of supply, import dependence and the competitiveness and effective implementation of the internal energy market.

A European Energy Policy is acknowledged as the most effective response to these challenges, which are faced by all Member States.

The EU intends to lead a new industrial revolution and create a high efficiency energy economy with low CO2 emissions. To do so, it has set itself several important energy objectives.

ESTABLISH THE INTERNAL ENERGY MARKET

An internal energy market has been developed on a Community level to ensure that consumers have the opportunity to choose a supplier, at a fair and competitive price. Nevertheless, as highlighted by the Communication on prospects for the internal energy market and the inquiry into competition in the gas and electricity sectors, there are obstacles which continue to prevent both the economy and European consumers from fully benefiting from the advantages of opening up the gas and electricity markets. Ensuring the effective implementation of the internal energy market thus remains crucial.

A competitive market

There must be a clearer separation between the management of gas and electricity networks and production or sales activities.

If a company controls the management of networks as well as production or sales, there is a serious risk of discrimination and abuse. A vertically integrated company has little interest in increasing the capacity of the network and thereby exposing itself to increased competition on the market and a consequent fall in prices.

A separation between the management of networks and production or sales will encourage companies to invest more in networks, thereby promoting the entry onto the market of new arrivals and increasing security of supply.

This separation may either be achieved through the establishment of an Independent System Operator responsible for the maintenance, development and operation of the networks, which remain the property of the vertically integrated companies, or through full ownership unbundling.

An integrated and interconnected market

The internal energy market is essentially dependent on cross-border trade in energy. However, such trade is often difficult because of the disparity between national technical standards and differences in network capacity.

Effective regulation on a Community level is required. The competences and independence of energy regulators need to be harmonised, their collaboration must be reinforced and they must be obliged to take into account the Community objective of realising the internal energy market and defining regulatory and technical aspects and common security standards required for cross-border trade on a Community level.

With the goal of making the European energy network a reality, the Priority Interconnection Plan highlights the importance of financial and political support for implementing the infrastructures which have been identified as essential and of nominating European coordinators for monitoring the most problematic priority projects.

An energy public service

The EU is determined to persevere with its fight against energy poverty by developing an Energy Customers’ Charter. The charter will principally encourage the implementation of aid schemes for the most vulnerable citizens in the face of increasing energy prices and also the improvement of the level of information consumers receive concerning the different suppliers and supply options.

ENSURE A SECURE ENERGY SUPPLY

Minimising the EU’s vulnerability concerning imports, shortfalls in supply, possible energy crises and uncertainty with respect to future supply is a clear priority. This uncertainty is all the more problematic for Member States dependent on one single gas supplier.

The new energy policy emphasises the importance of measures which ensure solidarity between Member States and of the diversification of supply sources and transportation routes.

Measures supporting strategic oil stocks must be reinforced and the possibilities for improving the security of gas supply must be explored. Increased security of electricity supply, which remains crucial, must also be guaranteed.

REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

Energy accounts for 80 % of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU.

Determined to fight against climate change, the EU is committed to reducing its own emissions by at least 20 % by 2020. It also calls for the conclusion of an international agreement which will oblige developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 30 % by 2020. In the framework of this agreement, the EU would set itself a new objective of reducing its own emissions by 30 % compared with 1990 levels. These objectives are at the heart of the EU’s strategy for limiting climate change.

Of course, reducing greenhouse gas emissions involves using less energy and using more clean energy.

Energy efficiency

Reducing its energy consumption by 20 % by 2020 is the objective the EU has set itself in its Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (2007-2012).

Concrete effort needs to be made to achieve this objective, in particular with respect to energy saving in the transport sector, the development of minimum efficiency requirements for energy-using appliances, awareness-raising amongst consumers about sensible and economic energy use, improving the efficiency of the production, transport and distribution of heating and electricity and also developing energy technologies and improving the energy performance of buildings.

The EU also intends to achieve a common approach on a global scale for saving energy through the conclusion of an international agreement on energy efficiency.

Renewable energy

The use of renewable energies (wind power, solar and photovoltaic energy, biomass and biofuels, geothermal energy and heat-pump systems) undeniably contributes to limiting climate change. Furthermore, it plays a part in securing energy supply and creating employment in Europe, thanks to the increase in the production and consumption of local energy.

Renewable energies, however, remain on the fringe of the European energy mix as they still cost more than traditional energy sources.

To increase the use of renewable energy sources, in its Renewable Energies Roadmap the EU has set itself the objective of increasing the proportion of renewable energies in its energy mix by 20 % by 2020.

This objective requires progress to be made in the three main sectors where renewable energies are used: electricity (increasing the production of electricity from renewable sources and allowing the sustainable production of electricity from fossil fuels, principally through the implementation of CO2 capture and storage systems), biofuels, which should represent 10 % of vehicle fuels by 2020, and finally heating and cooling systems.

DEVELOP ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES

Energy technologies play a central role in offering both competitiveness and sustainability in the energy sector while increasing security of supply. They are likewise crucial for attaining the other energy objectives.

The EU, today a global leader in the renewable energy sector, intends to consolidate its position and play an equally leading role in the rapidly growing market for low carbon energy technologies.

The EU must therefore develop existing energy-efficient technologies as well as new technologies, in particular those devoted to energy efficiency and renewable energies.

Even if the EU considerably diversifies its energy mix, it will still be highly dependent on oil and coal and must thus also pay particular attention to low carbon-output fossil fuel technologies, especially carbon capture and storage systems.

Investment in these emerging technologies will directly contribute to the Community strategy for increasing employment.

The Commission proposes an outline for a European Strategic Energy Technology Plan which will cover the entire innovation process, from the initial research to entry onto the market. This strategic plan will support the Seventh Framework Programme for Research, which foresees a 50 % increase in spending on research in the energy sector, along with the Intelligent Energy for Europe programme.

CONSIDER THE FUTURE OF NUCLEAR ENERGY

Faced with increasing concerns with regard to security of supply and CO2 emissions, nuclear energy has the benefit of being one of the low-carbon energy sources offering the most stable costs and supply.

The decision whether or not to use nuclear energy is made by Member States. Nevertheless, the illustrative nuclear programme emphasises the need to have a common and coherent approach with respect to security, safety and non-proliferation as well as concerning the dismantling of installations and the management of waste.

IMPLEMENT A COMMON INTERNATIONAL ENERGY POLICY

The EU is not able to achieve the objective of secure, competitive and sustainable energy alone. To do so requires the involvement and cooperation of both developed and developing countries, energy consumers and producers and countries of transit. To ensure efficiency and coherence, it is crucial that Member States and the EU are able to speak with a single voice on international energy issues.

The EU will be a driving force in the development of international energy agreements, in particular by strengthening the European Energy Charter, taking the initiative in an agreement on energy efficiency and participating actively in the post-Kyoto climate change scheme.

EU relations with consumer countries (such as the United States, India, Brazil or China), producer countries (Russia, Norway, OPEC countries and Algeria, for example) and countries of transit (such as the Ukraine) are of prime importance from the perspective of geopolitical security and economic stability. The EU will thus strive to develop energy partnerships with these countries which are transparent, predictable and reciprocal, in particular with its neighbouring countries. The EU also proposes a new partnership with Africa which will deal with a large variety of energy issues.

The EU is committed to helping developing countries to implement decentralised energy services which are low-cost, reliable and sustainable. The EU encourages these countries, in particular Africa, to immediately invest in renewable energies and the new generation of clean energy technologies.

BACKGROUND

The development of a European energy policy was at the heart of the European project, with the ECSC Treaty (establishing the European Coal and Steel Community) in 1951 and the Euratom Treaty (establishing the European Atomic Energy Community) in 1957. Despite economic and geopolitical changes since, it remains essential today.

The Energy Package presented by the European Commission on 10 January 2007 is part of the movement begun by the Green Paper on a European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy in March 2006 and once again places energy at the heart of European activities.

Based on the Energy Package, the Heads of State and Government at the spring European Council on 9 March 2007 adopted a comprehensive energy Action Plan for the period 2007-2009 .