The Commission moves to strengthen energy ties with Mediterranean neighbours as Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs pays a visit to Algeria.
Andris Piebalgs’s visit to Algeria on 26 November highlighted the energy potential of Europe’s southern neighbours. This issue was also the subject for debate at a EuroMed meeting on 28 November.
The EU’s renewed focus on Africa comes in the wake of failure to reach agreement with Russia on 24 November over a new Co-operation and Partnership Agreement that would formalise energy relations (EURACTIV 27/11/06).
In Algeria, Piebalgs outlined plans for an EU-Algeria strategic energy partnership based on:
- Regulatory convergence of Algerian and EU energy policies;
- the development of energy infrastructures of common interest, and;
- technology co-operation and exchange of expertise.
The EU is also considering the feasibility of constructing the so-called trans-Saharan pipeline, a project that would allow Europe to import Nigerian gas via Algeria. However, analysts warn that investment will be dependent on EU long-term contracts to buy the gas.
Meanwhile, Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, speaking at the EuroMed meeting, said that energy would be a priority area for a renewed focus on the Neighbourhood Policy.