Europe needs a new EU treaty to embark on a common energy policy, former European Commission President Jacques Delors told the European Parliament yesterday (5 May). However, he admitted that there was "fatigue" after putting in place the Lisbon Treaty and suggested adopting a gradual approach towards achieving this goal.
Delors, who is often referred to as one of the 'fathers of Europe', was hosted by European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, with whom he issued a common statement. Delors presented to MEPs a recent policy paper from his think-tank, Notre Europe, entitled 'Towards a European Energy Community' (see 'Background').
Buzek, who himself is a strong advocate of an EU 'energy community' (EURACTIV 11/12/09), said that on the eve of its 60th anniversary, Europe should seek inspiration from the European Coal and Steel Community, which played a major role in the Union's history at that time.
Buzek also admitted that at first, not all countries would be ready to embark towards establishing an "energy community", which should not prevent those willing to proceed from doing so, as EU countries had done with the Schengen border free area or the euro zone.
The Parliament president called for an energy 'Coalition of the Willing', using the term which gained notoriety in the context of the Iraq war.
Delors said the EU would need a new treaty to create a European Energy Community, "a new EEC". He said that enhanced cooperation under Article 194 of the Lisbon Treaty, which deals with the functioning of the EU energy market, would only serve the first stage for proceeding towards enhanced cooperation.
He was categorical in stating that in the medium term, a new EU treaty would be needed.
"A treaty implies a set of rules respected by all," he insisted.
Energy Commissioner Guenter Oettinger, present at the meeting, insisted that Article 194 was the legal basis for the Commission. Should time prove that the article is not enough to proceed upon, he would come back to Delors' proposal, he said.
Montagues and Capulets
Refering to Shakespeare, the former long-serving Commission president blasted EU members for behaving like "Montagues and Capulets" vis-à-vis Russia and for negotiating gas purchases individually.
The European Union must present a single interface in relations with its external partners, both producer and transit countries. The EU must have the ability to pool its supply capacities and to engage in coordinated energy purchasing, the two leaders said in a written statement.