V. Inter-Parliamentary Meeting
Athens, Greece, 19-20 June 2003
The European Commission, under the Programme ALTENER in collaboration with the Greek Government (Ministry of Development, Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Greek Parliament) organise the 5th Inter-parliamentary Meeting for the Promotion of the European Experience of Renewable Energy Sources Development and Climate Change Commitments in the New Member States and the Candidate Countries: A High Level Approach (RESPEED). The conference will be held in Athens on June 19-20, 2003 and it is hosted under the Greek Presidency in the European Union.
The 5th Inter-parliamentary Meeting project intends to promote the accumulated experience of the European Union in the development of Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Commitments to the new member states and the candidate countries. The dissemination of all above information aims to increase the awareness of the candidate countries on the developments of RES in EU and the climate change commitments, yielding a better assimilation of priorities, tools and best available practices. The adoption of RES-related policies is of imperative importance for the future joint cooperation with EU. The objectives will be accomplished through an extensive high-level approach targeted to the members of the Parliaments of the EU Member States and of the Candidate countries. The exchange of knowledge and experience can help the candidate countries initiating a plan to achieve the indicative objective of 12% for the contribution of RES to the EU's gross inland energy consumption by 2010, as referred to the Commission's White Paper.
AIMS OF THE MEETING
The 5th Inter-parliamentary meeting aims to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience between of the European Union and the candidate counties in the enhancement of the use and development of renewable energy sources and climate change commitments. The wider objective of the meeting is to increase the awareness of the Parliaments of candidate countries about the developments of RES in EU, yielding a better comprehension of the priorities, tools and best available practices.
The specific objectives of the meeting are:
- Promotion of EU's RES-related policies.
- Contribution to the familiarisation of EU's RES-related policies and Climate Change Commitments from candidate countries.
- Identification of initiatives for RES development and Climate Change Commitments in the new member states and the candidate countries.
- Highlight success stories of RES enhancement.
DECLARATION OF ATHENS 2003
We, the Members of the National Parliaments of the New Member States, of the Candidate Countries, of the EU Member States and of the European Parliament,
meeting in Athens on 20-21 June 2003,
- look forward to the enlargement of the European Union, believing that the commitment of New Member States and Candidate Countries to renewable energy will enhance the development of progressive policies in the energy sector throughout Europe.
- recognise the strategic importance of the integration of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) into all sectors of economic and social activity, at both supply and demand side:
- the EU is committed to double the contribution of renewables to primary energy demand, reaching 12% by 2010
- renewables are the only technological option able to secure a sustainable energy model and effective environmental protection for our future,
- the development of renewables can strengthen social cohesion in EU, increase employment in a new, fast growth industrial sector,
- the EU renewable energy industry is the world-wide leader in the manufacture of renewable technology equipment and EU members are the pioneers in integrating renewables into their national energy systems, which will also create new opportunities for export,
- the promotion of EU cooperation with developing countries is crucial, by sharing EU experience in renewables to eradicate poverty and improve health by allowing wider access to energy and water,
- the joint implementation of renewables and energy efficiency is the only way to meet the international EU commitments resulting from Kyoto.
- underline the imbalance in the development within the renewables sector, among countries, as well as among the different RES technology options. We recognise the existence of significant RES potential. Thus we call for coordinated actions in order to overcome the significant existing barriers to the further development of RES:
- Effective promotion policies for RES should continue, in accordance with the EU Directive for the electricity generation from RES and the Directives on biofuels. We remind National Parliaments that the RES electricity Directive has to be transposed into National legislation before October 2003 and call for rapid implementation and national strategies with binding targets.
- Administrative barriers should be strictly limited, especially through the adoptation of straightforward and transparent land-use plans, which give clear priority to RES installations.
- Access to the grids and the share of the associated costs should be fair and non discriminatory. Actions should be undertaken for the extension and/or reinforcement of local grids in isolated areas with high RES potential.
- RES should receive compensation until the external costs are fully integrated in all energy prices. The harmonisation of energy taxation in Europe should facilitate a common approach. Huge current subsidies to conventional energies should be identified and eliminated, to achieve a level playing field in the energy market.
- Governments should provide financing schemes for RES implementation, especially in the case of non-commercially-mature RES technologies with increased capital requirements.
- More research is needed to further develop RES technologies, as well as to demonstrate and promote the applications currently available. RES-budgets in EU research Programmes have seen their share reduced systematically; this trend must be reversed, recognising the fact that RES technologies are the most cost-effective choice in the short and medium term.
- We commit ourselves to support communication and information policies, which are essential for increasing public awareness and securing public support.
- RES Policies should be horizontally integrated in other EU Policies, such as the transport and agricultural policies, especially in the case of biomass. The targets for RES in the EU for 2010 will not be met without the expected contribution of biomass.
- Systematic benchmarking between countries as part of the "open coordination method" must be undertaken, to promote best practice in overcoming these barriers.
- Local groups should be encouraged to apply global thinking to local actions, taking into account the overall positive balance of RES projects.
- call, above all, for a clear political and social commitment by the EU regarding the implementation of RES, by a clear statement in the forthcoming European Constitution, which should emphasise the importance of renewables and declare the will of the European peoples to achieve the highest possible use of renewables. Furthermore, EU-wide discussion should be launched to propose new and higher RES targets for 2020, and the means to achieve them. A RES-specific treaty or similar instrument, EURENEW, should be adopted.
- welcome the debate for the movement towards a hydrogen economy, through the release of the EC's draft report "Hydrogen Energy and Fuel Cells - A vision of Our Future". We underline however, that hydrogen could contribute to a sustainable future only if renewables are used for its production.
- insist on the fact that market liberalisation does not imply just deregulation, but requires a new regulatory framework that recognises the best options available, especially renewables and efficiency.
- commit ourselves to increase effective networking between Members of elected bodies EU-wide.
Finally, the participants call upon all the relevant EU, national, regional and local elected bodies, institutions and actors throughout Europe, to promote and develop jointly the measures contained in this DECLARATION, urge the organisers to distribute this document throughout Europe, reaching the highest number of decision-makers, and agree to review, at a further high-level Inter-Parliamentary Meeting, the progress made and to promote further initiatives.
Athens, 21st June 2003
FINAL PRESS RELEASE: 38 European Parliamentarians approved a final Declaration during the 5th Inter-Parliamentary Meeting on Renewable Energy Sources.
MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT COMMITTED TO PROMOTE RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES THROUGHOUT AN ENLARGED EUROPE
Press Release 24.06.2003: During the closing of the 5th Inter-Parliamentary Meeting on Renewable Energy Sources : "Renewable Energy Sources in the EU: Candidate Countries & Climate Change Commitments" in Athens (Greece) at the weekend, the Members of the National Parliaments of the New Member States, of the Candidate Countries, of the EU Member States and of the European Parliament, called for a clear political and social commitment by the EU regarding the implementation of RES, by a clear statement in the forthcoming European Constitution, which should emphasise the importance of renewables and declare the will of the European peoples to achieve the highest possible use of renewables".
The Parliamentarians jointly declared "We look forward to the enlargement of the European Union, believing that the commitment of New Member States and Candidate Countries to renewable energy will enhance the development of progressive policies in the energy sector throughout Europe."
The 5th Inter-Parliamentary Meeting was organised by EUFORES, EPU-NTUA (National Technical University of Athens) and ELFORES (the Hellenic Forum for Renewable Energy Sources), and supported by the European Commission and Greek institutions.