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European Law MonitorEurope and its neighbours join forces to promote renewable energies and energy efficiency

Ministers discuss sustainable energy supply for Europe and its southern and eastern neighbours
As awareness grows of humankind's hand in climate change, the question of how Europe and its neighbours are to ensure a secure supply of energy in future has become the focus of increasing public attention. The German government has made energy one of the major issues of its EU Presidency. In order to accord renewable energies and energy efficiency a greater role in European neighbourhood policy, German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul and German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel are hosting a ministerial conference in Berlin as part of Germany's EU Presidency.

In her opening statement, Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul underscored the conference's emphasis on partnership, saying, "It is important that individual countries make their own efforts but that alone will not be enough to keep climate change in check. The EU and its neighbours must together, hand in hand, both foster renewable energies and energy efficiency and insist on them. Energy is essential for development, and sustainable development requires a supply of energy that keeps our vital natural resources intact." Development Minister Sigmar Gabriel said, "Following the adoption by the EU heads of state and government of a Climate and Energy Action Plan, which set a binding target of a 20% share of renewables and a 20% increase in energy efficiency, our task is now to join together with our European neighbours to actually move towards those targets. A massive increase in the use of renewable energies and in energy efficiency will make a vital contribution to Europe's energy security, to climate protection and to peacebuilding."

"We are delighted that, in many of our partner countries, renewable energies and energy efficiency are now really taking off. The KfW Bankengruppe has great experience not only of funding and developing assistance measures but also of integrated assistance packages and the general enabling environment they require," said Ingrid Matthäus-Maier, Spokeswoman of the Board of Managing Directors of the KfW Bankengruppe, in her welcoming speech.

The conference is the first time that so many environment and energy ministers from Europe, North Africa and the southern Caucasus have come together to discuss innovative policies and financing instruments to promote renewable energies and energy efficiency in the EU and its southern and eastern neighbours. It is lending vital new momentum to an expansion of the dialogue between the new and the old EU member states and between the EU and its southern and eastern neighbours on the political, economic and regulatory framework required to promote domestic renewable energies and energy efficiency and on innovative financing models and instruments. By 2013, the EU will be providing some 11.2 billion euros through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument for cooperation in sectors including energy. There was a consensus that a larger share of this than before should be used to expand the use of renewable energies and for measures to enhance energy efficiency.

Germany is currently supporting energy projects in 45 partner countries. Funding for ongoing projects amounts to around 1.6 billion euros. Of this, 929 million euros has been invested in projects to promote renewable energies • hydropower, wind power, solar power, geothermal power and the sustainable use of biomass • and 706 million euros in projects to boost energy efficiency.

The conference is being jointly staged by the German Development Ministry and the German Environment Ministry with the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, in cooperation with the European Commission. As well as energy and development ministers from the 27 EU member states and the EU's southern and eastern neighbours, the conference is also being attended by representatives of national energy agencies, business and civil society.