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Portugal: Active Participation in EU Agreement on Climate and Energy

(Oct. 30, 2014) The Portuguese Minister of Environment, Territory Order, and Energy was quoted as saying that the agreement on Climate and Energy 2030 (reached at the European Council meeting of October 23-24, 2014) had the active participation of the Portuguese Prime Minister and is of the utmost importance, given that the European Union will lead the climate discussions on a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol next year in Paris. In his view, the agreement creates the conditions for a truly European energy market, with benefits for the economy and for consumers. (Acordo Sobre Clima e Energia “Representa Uma Grande Vitória de Portugal,” Governo de Portugal, Ministério do Ambiente, Ordenamento do Território e Energia website (Oct. 25, 2014).)

The agreement includes an objective, considered by Portugal to be essential, that was proposed to the European Council during the last year: interconnectedness, which is a commercial interchange of energy between Member States. Portugal was the first and, for many months, the only country to defend the inclusion of this goal in the climate and energy package. The objective is to replace the 10% target, agreed upon in Barcelona in 2002, but not reached. With this agreement, not only is the 10% interconnection target restated, but also, and more importantly, there is now a process and a roadmap to ensure its implementation. (Id.)

In addition, funding has been increased over the €5.8 million (about US$7.36 million) that was available through the Connecting Europe Facility fund, and there are now guarantees that projects will have financing priority. For the first time, a target of 15% interconnectedness was set for 2030, with mechanisms to monitor and ensure that the target is met. (Id.)

This is a good agreement for the European Union, the Minister said. “With interconnectedness, the EU will reach its environmental goals at the lowest cost, allowing renewable energies to be produced where resources are more plentiful at lower cost.” (Id.) He added that this translates into more than achieving domestic renewable goals; it will help other countries reach their goals, attracting investments and creating jobs. (Id.)