Better energy policy coordination and greater solidarity between EU Member States in an energy supply crisis are top of the European public's wish list for energy issues, according to a survey commissioned by the European Parliament. EU citizens feel that measures taken at EU level give the best protection and that price stability, renewables, secure supplies and efficiency should be top priorities of the EU's energy cooperation strategy.
The survey was conducted during the first half of December, with a total of 26,574 face-to-face interviews in all 27 Member States.
"This Eurobarometer survey shows the level of public interest in energy questions", says Herbert Reul (EPP, DE), chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. "It is clear from the survey that citizens, who are all involved as consumers, have a strong interest in the price of energy, which depends not only on production costs but also to a large extent on Member States' taxes".
79% of Europeans call for more EU solidarity
Asked who would protect them best in the event of an energy supply crisis, such as the gas crisis in 2009, 60% of EU citizens felt they would be best protected by a coordinated EU response and 79% said they favoured solidarity between Member States. An overwhelming 77% believed it was in their own country's interest to provide assistance to other Member States facing energy supply difficulties.
Views differed according to country of origin. Citizens of Luxembourg, Hungary and Cyprus were the strongest supporters of a coordinated EU response, while only around 45% of those from Austria and the UK backed this idea. Swedes, Danes and Luxembourgers favoured solidarity (89%), whilst citizens from Malta, Slovenia and the UK were the least supportive of this principle.
Priorities of energy cooperation strategy
Four priorities were seen as crucial to shaping the EU's energy cooperation strategy.
Price stability was first on the list, emphasised most strongly by respondents from the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Latvia, while renewables were second (Danish, Swedish and Dutch citizens rated it highly). Security of supply and energy efficiency were the other two priorities most often cited by EU citizens.
Proactive response by Parliament
In September the European Parliament approved the draft regulation on the security of gas supply, which enables the EU to produce a joint response in the event of a future crisis. MEPs voted in November in favour of plans to release €146 million of unused EU funds to finance energy saving, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and also adopted a resolution on the EU's future energy strategy calling for a more coordinated EU external energy policy. In December, the EP adopted a resolution on the revision of the energy efficiency action plan, calling for more action to be taken on binding targets.