Key drivers to achieving a high level of energy security are the completion of the internal energy market and more efficient energy consumption. Image: Image: REUTERS/Nerijus Adomaitis
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Energy is not a luxury or a privilege. In modern society, it’s a necessity, sometimes an existential one. And yet, in the EU most of our energy is imported from elsewhere in the world, sometimes from regions that are unstable.
How can the EU ensure its energy security?
As a Slovak, I will never forget the winter of 2009 when the gas supply to the country was halted entirely. This is a situation we cannot afford to live with any longer. A fragile international context, combined with the overdependence of some Member States on one particular source or supplier, therefore calls for reinforced efforts to reduce its dependency on particular fuels, energy suppliers, and routes.
This is one of the core messages of the Energy Union’s Strategy adopted by the European Commission in February 2015 and the main objective of the Security of Energy Supply package we presented last month. Key drivers to achieving a high level of energy security are the completion of the internal energy market and more efficient energy consumption. Moreover, greater transparency, solidarity, and trust between the Member States are essential.
Diversification for energy security
Diversification of energy sources, suppliers and routes is crucial for ensuring resilient and secure energy supplies to European citizens and companies who expect access to affordable and competitively priced energy. The work, for instance, on the Southern Gas Corridor, or the establishment of liquid gas hubs in the north, contribute significantly to this objective.
The CESEC initiative to provide more diversification via interconnectors to south-east Europe is also a key initiative. Important infrastructure projects can only be carried out in a public-private partnership. Lending from international financial institutions creates additional incentives for leveraging private investments in crucial but also economically viable projects. The EU should also use all of its foreign policy instruments to establish and conduct strategic energy partnerships with increasingly important producing and transit countries.
Both renewables and increasing energy efficiency can contribute significantly to ensuring energy security. The growing share of renewable energy, in line with the EU’s 2030 climate and energy framework, requires the modernization and adjustment of the regulatory framework of the electricity market design.
The European Commission is intending to come up with such a proposal by the end of 2016. We have to fundamentally rethink energy efficiency and treat it as an energy source in its own right. As part of the market design review, the Commission will ensure that energy efficiency and demand-side response can compete on equal terms with generation capacity. To ensure that the Member States of the EU meet the commonly agreed objectives of the Energy Union, we proposed an ambitious governance structure in November 2015.
But a project of such scale cannot be built in Brussels. We need the support of decision-makers at national and urban levels, of the business and research community, of civil society, and most important – of EU citizens. I very much welcome the enthusiasm with which the Energy Union has been received so far, all across the continent, and I am convinced we are on track to bring sustainable and affordable energy security to our citizens.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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