The European Union has agreed to step up cooperation with its neighbours to the south and the east on energy efficiency and renewable energies, the German presidency of the bloc said on Thursday.
Ministers attending an international environment conference in Berlin said it was in Europe's interest to secure the future supply of energy and defuse the potential conflict that would arise from energy shortages.
"The EU and its neighbours must together, hand in hand, both foster renewable energies and energy efficiency and insist on them," German Overseas Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said.
The presidency said that by 2013 the 27-member bloc would be providing some 11.2 billion euros (15.2 billion dollars) through the so-called 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," the presidency said in a statement.
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel cited examples of such cooperation with solar energy projects in North Africa and wind energy schemes in Morocco, Egypt and the Caucasus.
"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," he said.
The EU committed itself at a two-day summit in Brussels last month to reducing its levels of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, by 20 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels.
Member states will also be required to make renewable energies such as solar and wind power account for at least 20 percent of EU's total energy consumption by 2020.
Meanwhile the German EU presidency has sought to deepen the bloc's ties to energy-rich Central Asia and North Africa to ensure a steady supply of gas and oil.