6th February 2015

Work on EU Energy Union officially starts

Last week saw the formal start of work on the Energy Union project of the new European Commission. At a press conference after the College meeting where the Energy Union was first discussed, Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič states that an Action Plan is scheduled to be adopted on 25 February, together with an annex listing concrete proposals, including of legislative nature in order to put to place a true Energy Union. On the same day, the Commission should also adopt the Road to Paris communication, laying down the EU´s intended contribution to the global climate talks.

Šefčovič said that the current energy market in the EU is unsustainable and the Union needs a new framework. The project should be as comprehensive as possible, taking into consideration all the relevant policy areas in order to build a truly coherent Energy Union. Energy security, the internal energy market, energy efficiency, renewables, and research and innovation into smart technology, those are the five pillars of the package. Šefčovič called the project very ambitious, with a central position of the consumer. He also plans to use the momentum provided by cheap oil and gas to push the project forward. All the Member States will be thoroughly monitored and any failure to transpose future legislative acts introducing the Energy Union will be punished. Although details were not revealed, some experts indicated that sooner or later a single supervisory body for the energy market will surely be created.

Earlier last week, Šefčovič also commented on the possibility of joint gas purchases. He said that it was an open possibility, but compliance with existing competition rules and WTO obligations would need to be respected. He also stated that he expected the mechanism to be voluntary. Šefčovič also commented on the Turkish Stream project that Gazprom presented, together with the announcement that Southern Stream was cancelled. The Vice-President said that the Russian way of cancelling the original idea and coming up with a new one was very unserious, in fact the EU nor the relevant countries affected by South Stream were not informed officially. He added that he believed the Turkish Stream project would not work. He called on his colleagues from the Member State energy ministries to meet at a special meeting in Bulgaria to discuss the next steps.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic