The EU's energy mix: Aiming for diversity

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Securing a diverse energy mix has been identified as a key policy objective in order to shield Europe from potential external energy crises and achieve supply-security and environmental sustainability in the long term.

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Although the choice of energy mix – the desired share of coal, nuclear, gas or renewables – remains in principle a matter of national sovereignty, the EU is increasingly involved in defining energy choices by setting targets on renewable energies and greenhouse-gas reduction.

Moreover, national decisions may have an important impact on other member states. "Each member state and energy company chooses its own energy mix," the Commission stated in its 2006 Green Paper on energy. However, it added, "choices made by one member state inevitably have an impact on the energy security of its neighbours and of the Community as a whole".

Taking natural gas as an example, the paper said that over-reliance on imports in one member state "would have significant effects on the security of supply of its neighbours in the event of a gas shortage". This was illustrated in January 2006, when Russia's Gazprom briefly cut off gas supplies to Ukraine, bringing Hungary, Austria and Slovakia near shortage levels and forcing the EU to intervene (EurActiv 4/01/06).

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