Towards competitive, sustainable and secure energy?

25 January 2011

Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy, said that the growing dependence of the EU for energy supplies, and volatile prices, lead to four critical aspects demanding change:

  • a stable and forward-looking policy framework to facilitate investment;
  • growing interdependence between member states;
  • the risk of losing leadership in developing new technologies;
  • the central role of energy in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

He outlined five lines of action:

Reducing overall consumption

World primary energy demand is projected to increase substantially and rising demand in developing countries is diverting energy supplies away from Europe. The growing global competition for energy resources will cause conflict in some parts of the world, leading to a sharp increase in energy prices, diminishing the prosperity and the quality of life of EU citizens, and posing a serious threat to Europe's industrial competitiveness.

Energy efficiency must be mainstreamed into other policies, with the public sector leading the way. There is a need to create a European market for energy efficiency, to reduce energy costs, and create a dynamic market for new skills, jobs and businesses. 

An integrated Market

Reduced energy costs would make Europe a more competitive and attractive business location and sustainable production of renewable energy requires at least an EU-wide market. Grid developments are a key factor for further deployment of renewable energy production, and there is a need for more coordination between national schemes, and pan-European harmonisation. Technical barriers that exist need to be removed and investment in infrastructure needs to “speed-up”.

The external dimension of the energy market

The strengths of the European energy market must be exploited. This means closer cooperation with neighbouring countries, bilateral agreements by individual member states to be in line with EU rules, and reinforcing EU cooperation with strategic partners.

Making a technological shift

Without a technological shift, the EU will fail on its 2050 ambitions to decarbonise the electricity and transport sectors. The introduction of new, highly efficient and low carbon technologies into the European markets is more urgent than ever. Beyond financing, EU regulatory tools should be better used to accelerate market uptake of innovative technologies.

Providing a long-term view: the 2050 Roadmap

The transformation of energy systems needs a longer term perspective – the so-called "Energy Roadmap 2050", which would present paths to meet the greenhouse emission reduction target and secure the provision of energy at competitive prices.