Energy Union has progressively gained importance in the course of the last year and it became one of the European Union’s biggest challenges for the future. Energy is the field where Europe’s next match for growth will be played, and securing supplies, ensuring sustainability and maintaining competitiveness represent the objectives.
The new Commission has attracted the public attention to this topic like never before, and tried to set a precise road map for the years to come. Despite this, many believe that a precise plan hasn’t come yet and that the EU’s strategy has to be clearer. The Sting was at the European Business Summit’s session to get the cutting edge information concerning the EU’s energy plan.
Maros Šefčovič, European Commission’s Vice-President and Commissioner for Energy Union, opened the session on energy which was moderated by Edward Lucas of The Economist with a warning: “We have to make sure that by 2020 we have the Caspian Gas in Europe, or it will be too late”, he stressed. Since taking office in 2014, Sefcovic has called the ‘Southern Corridor’ project a priority. The gas pipelines will be laid to southeastern Europe from the Caspian region and potentially the Middle East, and would secure for Europe billions of cubic meters of gas after Russia suspended the South Stream gas pipeline project.
William Colton, VP Corporate Strategic Planning for Exxon Mobil Corporation later warned the audience that securing energy supplies will be a challenge in the future, as “the world will need at least 35% more energy in year 2040”. “The countries have all the same issues – balancing the emissions’ reduction goal with the cost of achieving this goal!”, he then claimed.
Keeping prices low, in order to maintain competitiveness, reducing emissions at the same time, is the world’s big challenge, and indeed the hottest point of discussion inside Palais d’Egmont’s ‘Europe Room’ last Thursday. “We cannot forget competitiveness”, cried out Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Chairman of the Executive Committee at Solvay. Mr. Clamadieu said that the most important objective will be to create synergies between the climate policies and business, which cannot be forgotten. “Only through energy policy, as well as through an efficient and business oriented tax regulation, the EU can trigger competitiveness”, he declared.
For Ivan Pineda, Director of Public Affairs at the European Wind Energy Association, it would be possible to have a farsighted climate policy, and so the emissions goals, which was at the same time aligned with business. “There’s an immense business case here!”, he said. “By 2030 up to a third of energy will likely be renewable, and this is an opportunity. If businesses understand the potential of research and innovation, which would eventually lead to help cut costs, things can change for real. I believe there’s no contradiction in promoting renewable energies and business at the same time”, he added.
The Energy Union is indisputably linked with the EU’s climate policy. Europe’s target is a reduction of at least 20% in greenhouse gas emissions from all primary energy sources by 2020 and a 40% emissions cut by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and at least 30% of energy to come from renewable sources.
The EU is currently in the process of reforming its Emission Trading System regime and aspires to adopt an ambitious climate agreement at the COP21 Meeting in Paris at the end of this year. Can Europe really succeed? Commissioner Šefčovič made it clear.
“Energy Union is here to ensure Europe will remain competitive. So I say yes, we can change the energy market and remain leaders in the world’s economy. I’m also confident that we have the talents we need to succeed and that we are number one in the world when it comes to technology for renewable sector. “But we have to speed it up”, he later warned.
At the end he addressed directly to the industry: “I appreciate that the industry understood the importance of this objective, because we need you to pass the message back to the countries, to your investors, to your stakeholders. We need to cooperate if we really want to achieve this goal”.