De Palacio: Ten measures to improve EU energy cooperation

In a letter to the Financial Times, Loyola de Palacio (together with other former energy Commissioners and European energy regulators) says the EU needs “better energy,” not just “more energy.” She has ten suggestions to improve the EU internal energy market.

The Spring European Council on 23 March 2006 is expected to adopt its stance on a future EU energy policy. The summit conclusions will be based mainly on Commission suggestions listed in its 8 March Green Paper for “sustainable, competitive and secure” energy supplies. The Green Paper has already received broad support from EU energy ministers, although this was accompanied by much rhetoric about safeguarding national sovereignty choices on the energy mix (EURACTIV, 9 March 2006).

Against this background, the former energy Commissioner recommends the adoption of ten “simple measures” to “enhance the performance of the internal energy market without delay.” Among them are: 

  • removal of “all political and administrative barriers” to electricity and gas interconnections, and promotion of investments in much needed infrastructure such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals;
  • the facilitation of “the physical and operational integration of national grids into single European electricity and natural gas networks”;
  • pursuing the struggle against abuse of dominant position; 
  • the harmonisation of the competences of national regulatory authorities and consolidation of their independence while empowering the European Commission which deals with EU issues; 
  • the internalisation of environmental costs into energy prices and “harmonisation of all relevant instruments (emissions trading, green certificates, taxes, subsidies and so on), according to European law.” 

In a context of suspected protectionist trends in the sector, Ms de Palacio warns against undue interference by public authorities in mergers and acquisitions “beyond the strict application of competition law.”

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