Commission calls for “integrated European energy policy”

The EU and its member states need a common approach to tackle their energy dependency, says Commission President José Manuel Barroso who will unveil an energy paper next month.

Barroso was speaking in support of the case for an “integrated European energy policy”, in an address at Georgetown University, Washington DC, on 9 February.

“The world has entered a new energy era. We can no longer take secure and affordable supplies for granted,” he said in reference to high oil prices and security of supply issues highlighted by the recent Ukraine-Russia gas dispute (EURACTIV, 5 Jan. 2006). 

“These are issues the EU can ill-afford to ignore,” he stressed, adding, ”We have to do something about this, and we have to do it now.” Barroso said the European Commission will “lead the debate by launching a consultation paper on energy next month,” possibly on 8 March. 

”Our mantra,” said President Barroso, “must be ensuring Europe’s competitiveness, safeguarding our environmental objectives and ensuring our security of supply.”

And in Barroso’s view, the EU should do this in close cooperation with the US. ”Just as it is ridiculous to have 25 separate energy policies in the European Union so it would fly in the face of common sense for the transatlantic partnership to pull in different directions in this critical area.”

Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz is also adamant about the strategic importance of energy security in transatlantic relations. “I want to propose to our partners from the EU and the NATO alliance a treaty on energy security,” he said in a comment to the Financial Times on Friday (10 February).

In his annual State of the Union address, US President George W. Bush announced the launch of an Advanced Energy Initiative which will seek to “move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.”

The Commission paper will be discussed at the next EU summit on 24 March, where energy will feature high on the agenda. France recently unveiled its own vision for EU energy policy on 23-24 January (EURACTIV, 24 Jan. 2006).

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