At the helm of the EU, Bratislava dealt with several pending climate and energy dossiers.
In climate and energy, a perfect legislative storm could have hit the Slovak EU Council Presidency. Nonetheless, when the European Commission finally proposed the winter energy package at the end of November, Slovakia’s term was almost over. In December, it presided over the last Environment and Energy Councils.
However, the Slovak diplomats did have specific goals – expressed in the Presidency Programme – on the pending dossiers. At the end of the day, they delivered only in some.
In climate, they managed to secure consensus on the ratification of the Paris Agreement, but they fell short on the reform of EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS). In energy, Slovakia worked out key deals on the security of supply. Bratislava, however, did not reach a consensus with the European Parliament on important energy efficiency legislation.
Achieving Paris, failing in ETS
Slovakia’s greatest success and at the same time the only climate & energy issue of the Bratislava Summit is the ratification of the Paris Agreement on the EU level. It allowed the EU to be there, when the climate pact entered into force and when the Marrakech COP22 discussed its implementation.
The Slovak Presidency contributed to the preservation of what remains of the EU’s climate leadership. The national ratifications in the Member States have not been finished as of yet. But there is little a Presidency country can do about it.
However, it could have done more in achieving a compromise in the EU Council on the ETS reform.
The depressed market with allowances will be overhauled before it enters the next decade and Slovakia clearly had the ambition. But its partners did not have the “political will”, according to Environment Minister László Sólymos.
Strong on energy security, weak on labelling
The Presidency successfully led the Member States to a consensus on the revision of the Security of Gas Supplies Regulation. Given the shift from a national to a regional crisis-response model, this is an important achievement founding grounds for negotiations with the EP.
A deal with the Parliament has already been reached by the Presidency on a different dossier: the new Decision on Intergovernmental Agreements in energy.
The main clause allowing the Commission to de facto veto agreements on gas and oil supplies has been preserved. It is a reaction to the development around the cancelled South Stream pipeline and it will further reinforce the Union’s resistance against external pressures.
However, Slovakia did not produce any breakthroughs in energy efficiency. Contrary to its ambitions, it failed to close the negotiations with the EP on the revised Energy Labelling Regulation reintroducing the A-G scale for appliances.
In sum, Slovakia’s Presidency was strong on the external climate policy, but weak on building the internal energy market.