EUCERS together with the Centre for European Reform organised a panel discussion on the Future of EU Energy Policy on Thursday, 27 October.
The workshop celebrated the launch of a report – “Green, Safe, Cheap: Where next for EU energy policy?” written by EU Commissioners Günther Oettinger and Connie Hedegaard together with ten European experts.
The keynote speech delivered by Charles Hendry MP, Minister of State at the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change was preceded by a welcome address by Professor Friedbert Pflüger, director of EUCERS.
Katinka Barysch, deputy director of CER and editor of the study also addressed the audience ahead of a panel discussion steered by Frank Umbach, associate director of EUCERS, Stephen Tindale, associate fellow at CER and Nick Mabey, chief executive and founder director of E3G – Third Generation Environmentalism.
The study proposes to answer a number of topical questions: “Will Europe have to fight for its energy with emerging power such as China?”, “Should the EU get involved in building cross-border gas and power lines?”, “Do we need a European policy on nuclear policy?”
While all these questions are highly relevant and preoccupy policy-makers in Brussels, they are also complex and cannot disregard the EU’s long-term goals of creating unitary trans-European electricity and gas markets which could offer cheap, competitive, secure and green energy.
In the introductory chapter, Katinka Barysch points out that while European officials like to argue that the EU’s multiple energy policy objectives are compatible; there are arguments which show that the single EU energy market is necessary but not sufficient to meet the Union’s energy policy objectives.
These arguments are highlighted in the report’s 10 chapters where experts ask whether the EU’s renewable policy is not “unnecessarily expensive” and even undermine the single market, whether EU support for selected pipelines and power lines could distort market signals and finally whether the EU’s gas policy focuses too much on the “Russia threat”.
The study points out that the EU is increasingly aware that the market liberalisation project is not sufficient to ensure the security of energy supply and that new rules have to be adopted to force member states to invest in new pipelines and storage facilities.
It also stresses the fact that the EU has little time to sort out complex issues such as the reduction of carbon emissions. Brussels is yet to produce new and ambitious targets beyond 2020 – the date when member states should have reduced emissions by 20% and ensure that 20% of their energy generation comes from green sources.
Finally, the study asks whether the sizeable investments needed to ensure a low-carbon and energy secure economy would not be outweighed by slimmer local initiatives that would take in consideration individual needs.
The authors conclude that Brussels faces the pressing need to formulate a more coherent, long-term European energy strategy.