The 30 October EU-Russia Energy Dialogue Conference and a new report by the High-Level Group Competitiveness-Energy-Environment demonstrate that energy issues have become the EU’s number-one priority.
During the 30 October conference on Energy Dialogue in Moscow, Commissioner Piebalgs urged both sides to improve mutual understanding and trust between the EU and Russia. “Russia need the European Union just as much as the European Union needs Russia,” Piebalgs said. His comments reflect growing tensions between the two as a result of increasing geopolitical struggles over oil and gas supplies and Russia’s new aspirations to become an energy superpower.
Russia is the largest single external supplier of oil, accounting for 30% of total EU imports and some 44% of gas imports. The EU is trying to convince Russia to sign the Energy Charter Treaty, but the Russians have so far refused to ratify. In the context of the EU-Russia Energy Dialogue, four thematic work groups have prepared reports, which were presented in Moscow: investments, infrastructure, trade and energy efficiency. These will be discussed and possibly endorsed during the second Permanent Partnership Council on Energy on 21 November.
Strengthening international cooperation was also one of the main recommendations in the second report of the high-level group on competitiveness, energy and the environment which met in Brussels on 30 October. The report also called on the EU to develop a “comprehensive evidence-based strategy” for its energy future and improve the existing emissions trading scheme. The group furthermore saw the need for a strategic European Energy Technology Programme and set up two new ad hoc working groups: one on innovation and technology developments in energy intensive industries and another to study the impacts of environmentally harmful subsidies.