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Mandate of new EU energy department emerges

Publication date: 28 April 2009

A significant part of European climate policy including responsibility for the EU's carbon trade scheme should be transferred to a new energy department being created in the European Commission, an internal task force is expected to recommend on Thursday.

The creation of a new directorate-general (DG) focusing on energy and climate issues has been on the commission's agenda since last summer. The EU executive has made no secret of its desire to split up its energy and transport department.

More controversial and less clear has been how much of climate policy could be moved out of the environment department into the new DG energy. The EU's emission trading scheme (ETS), currently part of the environment commissioner's portfolio, is very likely to become part of the new DG's remit, according to EU sources.

There are also suggestions that the new DG would take over responsibility for international climate strategy. This would effectively emasculate the environment department, some have warned.

The climate portfolio would not be entirely lost however, because adaptation to climate change has already effectively been out-sourced to the environment department's water unit.

A task force led by the commission's administrative department will present first recommendations for the mandate of the new DG to commission vice president Siim Kallas on Thursday. A final decision on what the responsibilities of the new department should be is due this year, a commission official told ENDS.

Media reports suggest commission president José Manuel Barroso is unlikely to make any decisions soon however, while his own reappointment for a second term is uncertain. Making any senior appointments now would risk alienating some national governments.

Source: ENDS

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