Over 25 members of the ELEEP Network met in Brussels and The Netherlands from 14 until 18 May 2014. The Members engaged in a variety of activities, with a specific focus on discussing the organizational and substantive evolution of the ELEEP Network. This face-to-face consideration of how to implement an action-oriented, policy-relevant network – that remains both professionally and personally rewarding – will inform an ongoing discussion of ELEEP’s next steps with the two coordinating organizations (Ecologic Institute and Atlantic Council), as well as the rest of the members in the ELEEP network, over the coming months.
The ELEEP Members met first in Brussels. On 14 May, draft policy recommendations from the four study tours of the EU-US Energy and Climate Dialogue (sponsored by the European Union and the Robert Bosch Stiftung) were presented by Members to the assembled group and external policy experts living in Brussels. The experts provided comments and feedback to the draft recommendations, which was followed by a moderated discussion with the whole group about how to improve the recommendations and make them more relevant for EU and US decision makers.
The Third ELEEP Assembly was then held on the morning of 15 May 2014. Approximately 20 external participants joined the ELEEP Members at the conference. The Assembly began with a series of high-level opening addresses on the importance of EU and US cooperation in energy and climate change policy from Dale Eppler (US Mission to the European Union); Jeffrey Piper (DG Energy); Ulrich Eckle (European External Action Service); and Johannes Jung (Head of Office, Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg to the European Union). A vibrant discussion followed the addresses, focusing, among other topics, on the impacts of US and EU engagement with Russia and the importance of energy security without neglecting climate change concerns. After the opening addresses, a panel on EU and US energy paradigms was moderated by Kristin Deason (ELEEP Member) of Booz Allen Hamilton. Matthias Duwe (Ecologic Institute), Craig Hart (ELEEP Member and Professor at Renmin University in Beijing) and Damien Meadows (European Commission) discussed the different perspectives that Europeans and Americans have when considering energy and climate policies, while also identifying common interests and opportunities for deeper collaboration. The conference concluded with a keynote address from MEP Edit Herczog (Hungary), who reiterated the need for transatlantic cooperation and underscored the need for politicians to develop clear, but not overbearing, policies and laws.
Following the events in Brussels, the ELEEP group hopped a train to the Netherlands for the rest of the week. Our group met the young leaders of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment for a happy hour in the Hague Thursday evening. The group spent the next day in Rotterdam, investigating a variety of aspects of the Energy and Climate Dialogue in detail at the local level, holding meetings with the Port of Rotterdam, the Rotterdam Climate Initiative, Shell, and the state-of-the-art greenhouses of Wageningen UR. The Assembly concluded on 17 May with a full-day retreat, whereby the ELEEP Members discussed with one another and the organizing institutions how ELEEP has functioned to date and how they would like to see the Network evolve and develop in the future. Among other considerations were various opportunities for direct engagement with decision-makers and opportunities for using the extensive expertise of the Network to indentify policy best practices and getting good ideas and information in the hands of decision-makers at all levels of government.