Energy not only fuels anything from cars to fridges, but it is also what keeps our economy moving. However, if the EU is to have reliable energy supplies at affordable prices, member states must agree on a common approach with external energy suppliers, warns Hungarian Social-Democrat Edit Herczog. She spoke to us ahead of a plenary vote on 12 June that approved her report setting out a strategy for EU energy cooperation with third countries.
How can the EU speak with one voice on energy?
A better exchange of information is imperative. Big energy suppliers are aware of different data on their European consumer countries, but we don't have any information within the EU about each other. It would strengthen our position in the international buying markets.
New legislation is needed on how countries provide this information and how it should be used, because it is confidential.
How could it be implemented?
We are talking about an exchange of information at the political level. Whenever energy ministers meet in the Council, they should discuss the external dimension of the European energy policy in the presence of energy commissioner Günther Oettinger and high representative for foreign affairs. EU energy policy objectives should be better integrated into foreign policy.
In the report you say member states should not conclude energy supply contracts with third countries that violate the interests of another member state.
Yes, I do. If you are in the EU and we are one economic body, then getting a competitive advantage by undermining the interests of other states is unfair. We want to build on our strengths, not our weaknesses.
The diversification of gas supplies is an important aspect of EU external energy policy. What alternative suppliers and routes should the EU back to reduce over-dependence on a single supplier like Russia? There is a lot of talk about a southern route for Caspian gas to Europe.
We want to open our doors to all energy sources, including the Caspian region and beyond. At this stage there are two competing ideas.
One is to interconnect and harmonise existing gas networks into the South-East Europe Pipeline (SEEP). The other option, which is Nabucco, says these networks are very old and that to modernise them would be far more complicated than to build a new network. It's up to investors to decide whether to invest in old networks and harmonise them or build a new one with a new shareholding company and create new rules.
For me it seems that the second option is more viable, more long term and, I guess, not more expensive than the other one. But I am not an investor. It will be an investor decision.