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Security of energy supply in the EU and international cooperation

The European Union (EU) imports over 60 % of its gas and over 80 % of its oil. Faced with this situation, it needs adequate instruments to complete its internal energy market on the one hand and to promote its interests in relation to third countries on the other.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 7 September 2011 On security of energy supply and international cooperation - "The EU Energy Policy: Engaging with Partners beyond Our Borders" [COM(2011) 539 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

This Communication defines a strategy of cooperation beyond the borders of the European Union (EU) in order to ensure its energy supply and to promote its objectives in the field of energy. This strategy is based on four main objectives:

  • building up the external dimension of the EU’s internal energy market;
  • strengthening partnerships for secure, safe, sustainable and competitive energy;
  • improving access to sustainable energy for developing countries;
  • better promoting EU policies beyond its borders.

Objective 1: building up the EU’s internal energy market

Member States often favour the negotiation of bilateral agreements in the field of energy supply. For this reason the European Commission wishes to set up an information exchange mechanism on intergovernmental agreements between Member States and third countries in order to improve coordination within the internal energy market. Agreements could also be adopted with third countries at EU level.

It is essential for the EU to diversify its sources of energy in order to ensure continuity of supply. The EU therefore intends to put follow-up actions in place in order to:

  • ensure the continuity of the building of the infrastructure defined in the strategy Energy infrastructure priorities for 2020 and beyond;
  • promote supply from the Southern Corridor;
  • ensure a continuous supply of gas and oil from the East through cooperation with Russia and Ukraine, while supporting the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian transmission network;
  • develop renewable energy projects with the Southern Mediterranean countries.

The Commission considers it necessary to establish differentiated types of cooperation suited to each partner. It therefore intends to initiate several projects, with the main ones seeking to:

  • conclude negotiations with Switzerland aimed at full integration of electricity markets;
  • encourage cooperation with States wishing to join the EU;
  • develop an EU-Southern Mediterranean partnership to promote electricity and renewable energy by 2020.

Russia is an energy security partner of vital importance for the EU. The Commission therefore wishes to develop privileged relations with this country by stepping up the implementation of the EU-Russia partnership and by preparing an EU 2050 Energy Roadmap. An agreement is to be concluded between the EU, Russia and Belarus on the technical rules for the management of electricity networks in the Baltic region.

Objective 2: strengthening partnerships for secure, safe, sustainable and competitive energy

Besides Russia, the EU is obliged on the one hand to strengthen its partnerships with its hydrocarbon suppliers, such as Norway, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Libya, and, on the other hand, to extend new dialogues with emerging producers. It is vital to emphasise good energy governance.

In the context of its cooperation activities, the EU must not lose sight of the objective of reducing carbon emissions at global level. It therefore proposes to invite industrialised and emerging countries to work on the creation of reliable and transparent global energy markets, on the promotion of energy efficiency and low carbon energy, and on research and innovation projects in this field.

The EU considers it essential to step up work on a comprehensive legal environment for EU relations with suppliers and transit countries. To do this, it actively supports the Energy Charter and, in particular, work on its core trade, transit and investment mandate.

The Commission also wishes to promote nuclear safety and security standards globally. To this end, it intends to extend the scope of the Euratom agreements and to advocate for international legally binding nuclear safety standards, particularly at the level of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It also intends to address the safety of offshore operations, including with hydrocarbon producers within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Objective 3: improving access to sustainable energy for developing countries

In its development policy, the Commission has set itself the aim of making sources of energy (particularly electricity) accessible to the regions with the fewest resources, while respecting environmental imperatives. To achieve these aims, it wishes to mainstream energy in all EU development policy instruments, and to facilitate access of least developed countries to climate financing.

Objective 4: better promoting EU policies beyond its borders

The Commission has defined four types of energy partner:

  • market integration partners;
  • key energy suppliers and transit countries;
  • key energy players worldwide;
  • developing countries.

For each of these partners, it proposes the use of appropriate instruments selected from among the existing legal and political instruments, such as the Energy Community Treaty, the strategic energy dialogues or other instruments.

The Commission also wishes to improve coordination between Member States in order to speak with a single voice beyond its borders. To do this, it intends to set up a Strategic Group for International Energy Cooperation.

To ensure the best possible follow-up of its projects, the Commission is to establish a database of energy projects in partner countries funded by the EU, EU Member States, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Last updated: 29.11.2011

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