Energy and Climate Change
Internal Policies and EU Institutions

"The future of European energy policy" - address by President Jerzy Buzek at the Stakeholder Conference on preparation of Energy Strategy 2011-2020

Brussels -
Thursday, September 30, 2010
EP President Jerzy Buzek
EP President Jerzy Buzek

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Dear Commissioner Oettinger,
Dear Minister Magnette,
Dear Colleagues,
Dear Friends,

This is a very good moment to hold such a conference since energy and energy security are becoming the major challenges of the 21st century.

I am delighted that the Commission has taken the lead in giving some firm ideas on where we should be by 2020. The Parliament is currently discussing its position in Committee and I expect its vote to take place at the end of October, just before the Commission will adopt its Energy Strategy.

Dear Colleagues,

Since Lisbon has come into effect, Article 194 gives the EU a strong legal framework, and legal basis, to act on energy policy. However, as we use the new treaty provisions, we must not forget to implement existing legislation.

We still need to implement the second and third energy packages fully. The third package was a great success but it will be undermined if the previous one is not functioning well. This does not lead us further.

The Commission and the Parliament have done enormous work to create a European energy policy over the years, but today I believe we need political momentum if we want to relaunch the single market in energy.

This is why in May I proposed with Jacques Delors, the initiative for a European Energy Community.

I see this as a political umbrella which will allow us to package together many ideas which are currently on the table. This was done with the 1992 Single Market programme which integrated many concepts in order to push them forward. We still do have to work on this as the report recently submitted by Mario Monti points out. It also identifies the still "missing links" we have to establish in order to complete the internal market for energy.

I am very glad to see that the European Energy Community is an emerging brand name co-owned by the European Parliament and the European Commission.

In his state of the Union address President Barroso argued that "we need to do for energy what we have done for mobile phones: real choice for consumers in one European marketplace". He is right that "we need to make frontiers irrelevant for pipelines or power cables" because only this 'will give us a real energy community in Europe".

Dear Colleagues,

The EU has already done a lot of work in the energy sector - the European Energy Programme for Recovery; the measures to safeguard security of gas supply the recent Action Plan for Energy Efficiency are all success stories. We are not starting from zero.

The current proposals made by the Commission in the 2011-2020 paper have many elements which we can support, notably the strategy to fully implement the treaty of Lisbon in the energy sector; to ensure the proper functioning of the energy market and support modern integrated grids.

To secure energy supply by supporting projects such as desertec, new gas terminals and new pipeline such as Nabucco.

The Parliament will continue being a partner of the Commission in energy.

Dear Friends,

For the EU the guiding principle of our energy policy must be one which provides secure energy that is environmentally safe, and affordable.

We have coal as our own resource, but we are unfortunately too dependent on oil and gas from third countries, often coming from regions which are not stable.

We will have to have a serious discussion about nuclear power, as part of the energy mix, and what to do with the existing reactors which are also coming to the end of their working lives. In this regard I am looking forward to the Commission proposal on nuclear waste announced for November.

But the most important element for our energy security must be sustained investments in new technologies and renewable sources, and how to be more efficient both at home, and at work, with the energy we use.

But the cheapest energy still is the energy we do not consume and therefore do not need to buy. Consequently we also have to achieve energy savings and have to put this goal higher up on our agenda.

The European Energy Community can be the engine which guides our policies to meet some of these energy challenges.

For example, if we are faced with a major energy crisis, common strategic reserves must be available, and managed throughout the continent in a spirit of solidarity.

We can think of joint purchases of gas and oil, and if we have smart grids in place, joint purchases of electricity from third countries. I am thinking of Russian and Ukrainian nuclear power and the Desertec project in North Africa.  In essence we need to create an energy Schengen.

Dear Friends,

We must also remember that any future energy policy will also have to be safe for the environment. The only solution is investments in research and development of both renewable and low carbon technology.

We have a small window of opportunity to remain the leaders in Green technologies. I just want to remind you that China has already become the second largest producer of solar panels in the world. China puts up a windmill every hour. Our window of opportunity is getting smaller every day.

We need a better coordinated approach to engage scarce resources to fund such initiatives as the strategic technical energy plan, this is the value added that the community approach can provide.

Dear Friends,

Only if we find solutions for these two problems - safe and secure energy will we be able to solve the issue of energy which is affordable. Energy is the blood in the veins of our economy. It impacts every aspect of the it, and if we want to succeed with the relaunch of the single market and the 2020 strategy, we need affordable energy.

Dear Colleagues,

My last point is that if we wish to create a credible European Energy Community, we have to have the money to pay for it.  For years we have failed to direct substantial EU funds into energy policy. This is something which must end.

We are starting the debate on the Multiannual Financial Framework, energy policy has to be a centre piece of the discussion.

With the European economic rescue package we decided on five billion Euro for investments to speed up the shift towards a low carbon economy by supporting six Carbon Capture and Storage projects, nine offshore wind energy projects as well as 12 electricity interconnection projects and 31 gas pipeline projects.

Nevertheless, our SET-plan foresees a multiple of these investments. In order to achieve progress and to be credible we also need the equivalent budgetary means in the next Multiannual Financial Framework.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 1950 the founding fathers of the Union built a community based on the sharing of sovereignty over coal and steel. They had a vision and the courage to create something new.

Seventy years later we must find the same courage. We have to strengthen the work of the Commission which is building our energy policy, because what we wish to achieve in the future is a genuine European energy community.

Thank you.