«If it didn’t have a title, I wouldn’t know it was the Energy Union report»

Creative Commons: European Parliament, 2013
Creative Commons: European Parliament, 2013

Publish date: May 28, 2015

These were the words of a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) speaking on the morning of 28 May 2015 in the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee’s hearing on the draft Energy Union report. Author of the draft report, Polish Marek Józef Gróbarczyk from the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, received clear and ample feedback from fellow MEPs.

The European Commission presented its Energy Union Strategy in February this year, and this summer will see the European Parliament clarify its position. It is clear from today’s debate, that MEPs will make considerable changes the the current draft, with several MEPs expressing concern that in its current form, it provides little added value.

Note: This morning it also became clear that the Commission, Council and Parliament had reached agreement in overnight trialigue on the European Framework for Strategic Investments (EFSI) or the «Juncker plan». The EFSI will prove an essential part in realising the Energy Union as it will fund projects seeking to better integrate the European energy market, for instance through interconnectors or, as Bellona would like to see, CO2 transport networks to enable carbon capture and storage (CCS) roll-out.

Not just another «European mantra»

Green MEP Claude Turmes called for the Parliament’s report to ensure added value to the ongoing debate between the Commission and Member States in Council. In particular Turmes argued that the Parliament should call for more European-level governance; strenghten the role of consumers, citizens and cities; and provide more gravitas to the industrial and competitiveness aspects of the Energy Union.

On the latter point, Turmes pointed to Europe as having led the way in sustainable innovation, but now facing stiff comeptition from the U.S. and China. How does Europe plan to sustains its competitive edge?

An example of this is carbon capture and storage (CCS), where the U.S. and China, as well as Canada, are moving quickly and delivering full-scale projects and infrastructure, while Europe continues to struggle to deliver this crucial climate technology.

«At this pace, when crunch time comes and Europe needs to roll out CCS to reach emission reduction targets, we will import the technology from North America and China. Acknowledging that such crucial climate technologies in Europe would reduce mitigation costs and provide high-tech jobs, we hope to see the Energy Union push this», said Policy Adviser at Bellona’s EU office Marika Andersen.

Realising the European single energy market

MEP Krisjanis Karins from the European People’s Party (EPP) also drew attention to the disparity between U.S. and EU energy pricesin the context of ineffective subsidy schemes. Several MEPs from across political groups underlined the need to strenghten both competitiveness and sustainability aspects of the draft report. One MEP called on the report to ensure that the Energy Union becomes a reality and not just another «European mantra».

The Socialists & Democrats (S&D) made clear that the current draft report takes a step away from the core approach to the Energy Union set out by the Commission. While a speaker saw agreement as to why an Energy Union is needed, the proposed «therapy» is still a matter of misalignment, especially regarding decarbonisation measures. The S&D group therefore called on the rapporteur to ensure the report finds a more shared vision of the Energy Union.

MEP Morten Helveg Pedersen from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) highlighted that it is essential for the Parliament and this report to contribute to realising a real single energy market, at the core of which is providing citizens and companies with more choice.