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Minister Alex White meets European Commissioner Cañete on energy policy and climate change

Dublin, 22 April 2015

The Minister for Energy, Alex White T.D., met Mr Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy today (Wednesday) to discuss energy policy and related climate change matters.

Minister White reiterated Ireland’s support for the completion of the European internal energy market and the development of regional markets. He underlined how geographically peripheral member states like Ireland, which have isolated or poorly interconnected energy systems, need appropriate interconnection infrastructure in order to benefit from the internal energy market.

Minister White said: “I have stressed to our European partners on a number of occasions that the internal market won’t work effectively unless peripheral regions achieve additional interconnection. Ireland’s approach to collective funding decisions will continue to reflect this position.”

Speaking at an IBEC energy conference earlier today, Minister White said costs for large energy consumers in Ireland had fallen significantly. “The latest data shows that our energy prices have been converging towards EU norms. In 2008, energy prices for large energy users were more than 40% above the Eurozone average. That had fallen to 3-6% in the first half of 2014. This Eurostat data also shows that Irish electricity prices for large energy users are below those in the UK. These are significant achievements which have improved our competitiveness very considerably,” he said.

The discussion with Commissioner Cañete took place in the context of last year’s UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which said fossil fuels must be replaced with renewable electricity generation within 35 years. Both the Minister and the Commissioner agreed that Ireland and every other country must play its part in achieving that and Ireland is working with its European partners to ensure Europe plays a leading role in the UN conference to be held at Paris at the end of the year.

The Minister welcomed the opportunity to reiterate that “Ireland stands ready to work with the Commission on settlement of national targets that represent a technically feasible, cost-effective and fair sharing of the non-ETS 2030 burden. Crucially, an appropriate balance must be struck between competitiveness , security and sustainability and the forthcoming definitive energy policy White Paper will provide the framework within which that balance can be achieved.”

The Minister said his meeting with Commissioner Arias Cañete was a constructive and positive engagement and he looked forward to further bilateral meetings to explore how Ireland’s concerns could be accommodated in the new climate change abatement strategies in the energy sector and the completion of the internal energy market.

ENDS

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