Brussels, 17 July 2002
Commission proposing to revitalise energy cooperation with the developing countries
With the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development only weeks away, the Commission has today tabled specific recommendations to revitalise energy cooperation with the developing countries. The EU Energy Initiative to be presented at Johannesburg is at the heart of these proposals. «Energy must urgently be given a place in EU development cooperation that reflects its central role in the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic dimension of security of supply, the social dimension of combating poverty and the environmental dimension» said Loyola de Palacio, Vice-President in charge of energy and transport. "Africa's energy consumption is largely based on fuel wood, collected by hand and transported over increasing distances, adding to deforestation, desertification and poverty. If cost-efficient alternatives are not developed, energy will be a major brake on economic growth and sustainable development in Africa" added Poul Nielson, Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner.
With a view to the forthcoming Johannesburg Summit, the Commission is today presenting a Communication on energy cooperation with the developing countries. The Communication analyses the energy situation of the developing countries and ways of revitalising energy cooperation between them and the European Union. About 2 billion people in the world do not have access to basic energy services. The developing countries often have in common very rapid demographic growth, low levels of energy consumption and energy efficiency, and the prospect of a very sharp increase in energy demand. If current trends continue, Asia will in the medium to long term become the leading energy-consuming region, ahead of the OECD. Despite these different starting points, the Commission stresses the common interests and common objectives of energy cooperation and also shared risks, such as the exhaustion of reserves of fossil fuels or environmental damage.
The proposed cooperation framework is based in particular on the principle of «ownership», according to which the beneficiary countries and regions themselves choose their cooperation priorities. The broad outlines of the proposals are as follows:
Demand-side cooperation: the Commission particularly stresses the potential of this aspect of cooperation. Energy efficiency is an area in which the EU has developed broad experience and which is still largely untapped in the developing countries.
The Commission announces, finally, a new European Union Energy Initiative and draws up a set of operational recommendations for improving the efficiency of cooperation in the medium and long term.
The aim of the European Union Energy Initiative will be to combat poverty and establish a sustainable energy sector in the developing countries. It will be of a voluntary nature and encourage partnerships between governments and the organisations responsible for development and energy in the developing countries on the one hand, and their counterparts at the Commission and in the Member States on the other. Private companies, the relevant financial institutions and NGOs will be invited to participate.
The initiative is supplemented by specific proposals geared to the long term: