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European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy
Additional support for energy efficiency and environment in Armenia, Moldova and Georgia
Pledging Conference for the expansion of the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P), Luxembourg
21 October 2013
Mr Chairman, Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,
With only a few weeks to go before the Vilnius Summit on 29 November, the timing of today's pledging conference couldn't be better. Vilnius will be a game changer for the Eastern Partnership. Some of the Eastern Partnership countries will sign or initial Association Agreements including DCFTAs with the European Union. These agreements are the most ambitious prepared so far. They are the instruments for political association and economic integration that should:
• drive reforms;
• increase trade and investments across our borders; and
• give an impetus to economic growth in the region.
Let me make four remarks about energy sector in this context:
First, secure energy supplies are of tremendous importance for the countries in the region. Energy efficiency is equally important.
Second, the potential is huge: if the region could reach the average European Union energy intensity level, its dependence on imported gas would simply become insignificant.
Third, in the European Union, we have years of experience in dealing with energy efficiency. We have policies to tap our energy efficiency potential and we are developing our 2030 Energy Strategy. Member States such as Sweden and Germany are front runners: They more than doubled their GDP in the last 30 years without increasing their final energy consumptions! The Eastern Partnership countries will benefit highly from this European Union expertise.
Fourth, tackling energy efficiency also brings significant economic benefits: Look at the number of jobs that can be created through refurbishing buildings to improve their energy efficiency. This is a sector where we hope to create one million jobs in the European Union, mainly by strengthening the requirements for energy performance in buildings.
I see substantial benefits of energy efficiency projects in improving the quality of life of people in areas where respect for nature cannot stop at the national borders.
Let me turn now to The Covenant of Mayors which is a European Union initiative, where municipalities voluntarily commit to reduce CO2 emissions and energy use. It gained momentum in the Eastern Partnership, with already 78 signatory cities totalling more than ten million citizens. It shows the genuine interest of the Eastern Partnership municipal authorities to vigorously seize their energy saving opportunities.
Most of the cities that have benefited from the E5P Fund in Ukraine are Covenant of Mayors signatories, and we believe that the E5P provides valuable support to the signatory cities to reach their objective of sustainable growth.
I am delighted that the E5P is expanding to new countries and I am convinced of the significant benefits they will get from participating to this programme.
Finally, I am happy to announce that the European Commission has provisionally approved an additional €30 million contribution to the E5P to co-finance energy efficiency and environmental projects in municipalities for the three countries that are joining the facility, namely Armenia, Georgia and Moldova.
Thank you for your attention.