Who runs EU energy policies?

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The EU is putting in place an ambitious energy policy in a bid to improve security of supplies and achieve bold CO2 reduction targets. But how does the EU decision-making process function on energy-related issues? And what is the role of the industry sector and interest groups?

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Europe, like many other parts of the world, finds itself under pressure to address major challenges including climate change, a growing dependence on energy imports, increasing strain on energy resources and the need to ensure access for all consumers to affordable and secure energy.

To achieve these goals, the EU is putting in place a wide-ranging energy policy, covering the full array of energy sources from fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) to nuclear energy and renewables (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro-electric and tidal).

The bloc's aim is to put in place a low-carbon economy, whilst making energy resources more sustainable and more secure, and ensuring low prices for consumers.

The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, gives energy policy a new legal basis which it lacked in the previous treaties (Article 194 of the Lisbon Treaty).

In particular, the new legislative framework provides that the Union must ensure security of energy supply in the 27-member bloc, promote the interconnection of energy networks and improve energy efficiency and energy saving.

EU energy policy is supported by market-based tools (mainly taxes, subsidies and the CO2 emissions trading scheme), by developing energy technologies (especially technologies for energy efficiency and renewable or low-carbon energy) and by Community financial instruments.