Interview: European ‘energy champions’ needed

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Speaking to euractiv.fr, MEP Anne Laperrouze (ALDE/UDF) highlights the problems posed by the liberalisation of energy markets, and insists that the Union must maintain European ‘energy champions’.

Laperrouze claims that the Brussels energy summit that took place in March this year is as important as the 2000 summit that created the Lisbon Strategy. Highlighting the absence of a road map for an ‘Energy Europe’ from the Council’s conclusions, she questions whether current technology gives Europe the means to create ‘energy economies’ based on the development of renewable energy. 

Meanwhile, although accepting that renewable energy has an important role to play in France, Laperrouze insists that “the transport issue cannot be brushed aside any longer, as it is of vital importance in the fight against climate change”. 

She insists that electricity bills in France will not increase following the opening of EU electricity markets on 1 July, despite predictions that market liberalisation could increase prices for the consumer by up to 60%. Comparing electricity costs in France to those in Germany, she says that French prices are low. In order to keep prices down, Laperrouze believes that “considerable effort must be made to develop alternative sources of energy” – and has every confidence that renewable sources of energy will become “much more competitive”. 

Referring to Commission plans to separate electricity production from provision, Laperrouze said: “I am against unbundling.” However, she admits that “not many members of the European Parliament share this view”. Insisting that a common European electricity market will not function without massive investment in infrastructure, she adds: “Only European energy champions will have the means to finance these investments, which are indispensable if we want Europe to address world competition…Separating production and provision of electricity will not solve the issue of prices.” 

Laperrouze lends her support to the idea of an independent European energy regulator: “Much stronger cooperation between regulators is required if they are to better regulate the market,” she said. “Regulators must be independent from the member states if there is to be a real transparency of market prices.” 

Laperrouze suggests a solution that would ensure universal provision of electricity across Europe where the market fails. “Why not set a maximum price on large and small-scale electricity markets in the same vein as the Commission’s proposal for the mobile phone market?” 

To read the full interview (in French), click on the link below. 

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