Why Must We Harmonize? flickr
Energy usage in Europe

Whether the primacy of nuclear energy in France, the wind in Denmark or the coal in Poland, the energy diversity in the European Union is a fact, and there is no common energy policy in Europe today, which would have the same goals as the Economic Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) used to have. For Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, Energy Europe is presented as "the most ambitious European project in the energy field since the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community"[1]. But for such a policy to be possible, Europe must act.

A proactive European energy policy:

After the 2nd world war, the coal was at the heart of the Schuman Declaration 9 May 1950, and in 1951 with the Treaty of Paris establishing the ECSC. The Euratom Treaty of 1957 on Atomic Energy consolidates Europe’s determination in this area. Despite these advances, Europe is struggling today. Since the Lisbon Treaty energy hasn’t been taken into account. The European energy policy had to wait for the 2000s to confirm the extent of security of supply issues due to many crises, including the Russian–Ukrainian one.

The Article 194 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) declares that ”[i]n the context of the establishment and functioning of the internal market and with regard for the need to preserve and improve the environment, Union policy on energy shall aim, in a spirit of solidarity between Member States, to:

(a) ensure the functioning of the energy market;

(b) ensure security of energy supply in the Union;

(c) promote energy efficiency and energy saving and the development of new and renewable forms of energy; and

(d) promote the interconnection of energy networks.”

Thereby the EU wants to liberalize the internal energy market through the integration of national markets providing better products and services. It also wants to have a multiplication of interconnections to smooth production. The European institutions validated the European plan on climate change; the plan was launched in March 2007 and was adopted by the European Parliament in December 2008. “The package focuses on emissions cuts, renewable resources and energy efficiency.”[2] With the plan, presented in the latest one approved in 2014, they intend to reduce emissions by 40%, to reach 27% renewable energy in the total energy consumption and to increase energy efficiency by 27% compared to 1990. But this desire is confronted with many obstacles. The differences of the Member States mainly persist, and Russia keeps a main role.

National interests are guiding the Union policy on energy:

The Article 194 of TFEU points out a paradox. It states that despite the solidarity displayed between states “[s]uch measures shall not affect a Member State’s right to determine the conditions for exploiting its energy resources, its choice between different energy sources and the general structure of its energy supply”.

The European Commission is blocked by national rules, whether in fixing the price of gas, electricity or privileged access of some players. The development of the European energy companies is restricted. The EU needs to improve competition rules and enforcement against monopolies.

Concrete projects actually highlight this European failure. The Nord Stream gas pipeline project negotiated between Berlin and Moscow, crossing the Baltic Sea is a bilateral matter. The South Stream project of pan-European pipeline across Ukraine is not supported by the EU, but by national operators such as Gazprom, EDF in France or ENI in Italy. The EU and the European Investment Bank (EIB) prefer to support the Nabucco project, a pipeline from Iran to Central Europe and transiting Turkey to allow free-energy dependence of countries like Hungary to Russia. This says a lot about the solidarity within Europe. This must stop, Europe must be responsible.

The European Union must be accountable:

In 2014 the European Commission carried out legal actions against 24 countries in the EU for failing to transpose a directive on energy efficiency. Today 100 million Europeans suffer from energy poverty. The climate and energy package adopted last year remains restricted. Both Britain and Poland blocked the German desire to change the policy.

So, if the approach to 28 is difficult, Europe must act for regional coordination between countries sharing a common ambition. It is necessary to reform the energy regulatory framework by making it attractive. We must do an overhaul of the energy in the investment, which is an undeniable tool to relaunch the European economy.

And yet, no continent has ensured its energy transition better than Europe, despite the fact that the EU produces only 5% of the world’s coal production. Major coal-producing countries are themselves branded as Germany or Poland. It is now or never to accept that the national level is not the appropriate framework. In 1950 Germany and France achieved the impossible with the creation of the ECSC. Why would they be unable today? In the Conference of Parties (COP21) this December in Paris, it is time for the EU to have a common vision of the future. The citizens are ready.



[1] http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-4497_en.htm

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_climate_and_energy_package