Energy


The FPS Foreign Affairs follows multilateral diplomacy in international organisations in charge of energy, either on a primary basis (International Energy Agency, Energy Forum, Energy Charter, International Renewable Energy Agency) or on a complementary basis (UN, OSCE, NATO and the International Atomic Energy Agency as regards civil consumption). Our FPS is involved in the coordination with the competent federal and regional bodies to determine Belgium's position and strategy (ENOVER/CONCERE consultation group).

Directorate M4 of the Directorate-General for Multilateral Affairs and Globalisation gives priority to the political aspects of energy security and the optimisation strategy. The supply of natural gas to Belgium and the European Union receives special attention.

 

International Energy Agency (Paris)

The International Energy Agency (IEA) was established after the 1973 oil boycott as a sister organisation of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to protect the interests of oil consuming countries. The IEA requires its members to maintain a stock of oil products that meets average national consumption for 90 days to be used in the event of a crisis. The organisation also carries out studies on the energy policies of its members.

The IEA publishes its annual World Energy Outlook to share its views on energy market developments, particularly on oil and natural gas. A ministerial meeting takes place to establish the main policy guidelines.

The FPS Foreign Affairs ensures that Belgium's external energy policy fits into the general foreign policy framework. For example, the commissions responsible specifically for the IEA's external relations, for example with China and India, are followed by the department.

Energy Charter Treaty (Brussels)

This treaty mainly established the rules for transit and trade on the one hand, and investment protection in the energy sector on the other. It also includes a dispute settlement mechanism. Russia's prolonged period of non-ratification of the treaty undermines its relevance. Since January 2020, the Energy Charter Treaty has been undergoing a process of modernisation which should, among other things, ensure that the Treaty complies with the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement by also protecting investments in renewable energy and preparing for the phasing-out of fossil fuels.  

 

International Energy Forum (Riyadh)

The International Energy Forum (IEF) is an international platform for high-level policy dialogue. The IEF holds a biennial ministerial meeting. The secretariat issues the Joint Oil Data Initiative in which oil sector data is published to bring more transparency to the market.

 

International Renewable Energy Agency (Abu Dhabi)

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is a German initiative supported by the United Arab Emirates. It was officially established in Bonn on 26 January 2009. The agency aims to promote a rapid transition to renewable energy worldwide. To this end, it wants to compile existing knowledge on the subject, provide strategic advice, promote technology transfer and encourage capacity building and research. Belgium joined IRENA in January 2014.

 

Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL)

The United Nations' Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative aims to provide universal access to energy for people in developing countries. The key feature of this initiative is that the energy must come from renewable sources, to avoid creating an environmental divide in place of the old industrial divide. Developing countries could be encouraged to reduce their industrialisation gap in a polluting way, while industrialised countries are making the transition to a low-carbon society.

 

Commodities

The agricultural commodities market has often been characterised by large price fluctuations. Since many developing countries are highly dependent on raw materials for their export income, these price fluctuations regularly had negative effects on their development. The production of primary and semi-finished goods directly determines the income and living conditions of millions of people, who are unable to exert any decisive influence on this level.

In the 1970s, a series of agreements creating international commodity organisations were concluded within the framework of the Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), with the aim of stabilising prices through export quotas and buffer stock mechanisms. Due to the controversial functioning of these mechanisms, they were gradually abrogated.

However, the agreements and organisations still exist. They have gradually evolved into platforms for producer and consumer countries to exchange information about the global commodity market and to agree on specific issues, such as sustainable resource management, the fight for better working conditions, the fight against deforestation, etc.

The international commodity organisations (ICOs) are:

  • International Coffee Organisation (ICO), London
  • International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), Abidjan
  • International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), Yokohama
  • International Grains Organisation (IGO), London
  • International Sugar Organisation (ISO), London
  • International Organisation of Vine and Wine (IOVW), Paris
  • International Rubber Study Group (IRSG), Singapore
  • International Olive Oil Council (IOC), Madrid
  • International Cotton Advisory Council (ICAC), Washington
  • International Copper Study Group (ICSG), Lisbon
  • International Lead and Zinc Study Group (ILZSG), Lisbon
  • International Nickel Study Group (INSG), Lisbon
  • International Network on Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), Beijing

Belgium is a member of these organisations, directly or through the European Union (Commodities Group - PROBA), except for the Nickel Group and the International Network on Bamboo and Rattan.

Since the Paris Climate Agreement (2015), the issue of sustainable resource management has become mainstreamed in all commodity organisations.  It has been accompanied by increased vigilance on related issues such as the fight against child labour, the fight against deforestation or the search for greater transparency in the commodities sector, particularly through a traceability system (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the OECD Due Diligence Principles). This improvement in management and transparency and the fight against illegal exploitation are closely linked to conflict prevention.