A proposal will be issued at the end of November to incorporate energy issues in all of the EU’s relations with neighbouring countries, External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner has announced.
The Commission is looking to strengthen its current policy to include major energy chapters in its relations with neighbouring countries, with proposals due “next week” said Ferrero-Waldner at the opening of a conference taking place in Brussels on 20-21 November.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso added that he intended to make energy a central issue of every summit the EU will hold with third countries throughout 2007.
The new policy will take greater account of “the vital role that neighbours play in the EU security either as supplier or as a transit country”, said Ferrero-Waldner, citing legal frameworks, network interconnection, energy efficiency, renewable energies and nuclear safety as examples of co-operation areas.
Trans-Caspian – Black Sea strategic energy transit corridor
At the centre of the proposals will be encouragements to develop, with the US and Russia, “a Trans-Caspian – Black Sea strategic energy transit corridor” involving Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.
Ferrero-Waldner said that the Commission is looking to develop “sub-regional energy markets” in Eastern Europe, the Caspian basin, central Asia and the Caucasus as well as strengthening co-operation with Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.
The objective, she said, is to “promote the convergence of these energy markets towards that of the EU”.
“We should aim in the middle term at a fully fledged EU/Black Sea-Caspian Sea Common Energy House functioning on the basis of the EU internal energy market,” said Ferrero-Waldner.
A new “neighbourhood investment fund” will be created to “facilitate important energy projects especially in the infrastructure of common interest”, she added.
The proposal will also include plans to extend the market principles of the Energy Community Treaty to those regions. The Treaty, which currently covers South East European countries hoping to join the EU, has recently been extended to include Moldova, Norway and Turkey as observers.
In the Mediterranean, Ferrero-Waldner said the Commission’s “long-term target would be to create a Euro-Mediterranean Common Energy House”.
“In a second step, the Gulf region could also be included,” she added.