Parliament inches closer towards EU energy union
MEPs have approved a report calling for more cooperation between the member states' energy markets and increased resource efficiency.
Europe has moved a step closer to achieving an energy union. MEPs have adopted a resolution in plenary urging member states to integrate their energy markets and make better use of existing and renewable resources. This will improve energy security and help reduce their dependency on energy imports, many of which come from Russia..
The resolution states that, "more sustainable and competitive prices and costs of imported energy should be actively pursued through the diversification of supply - energy sources, suppliers and routes," and that Europe's infrastructure projects should be in line with climate and energy objectives.
EPP group shadow rapporteur on the energy union András Gyürk commented; "We have a clear aim with the energy union. It is to strengthen the security of energy supply and increase energy efficiency at an affordable cost."
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"It is up to economic actors to decide which projects make economic sense and what could be the potential of extraction projects in the area of energy. Parliament must do its best to provide a sound regulatory environment including strict standards with regards to climate, health and environment."
His S&D group counterpart, Flavio Zanonato, boasted that Parliament was, "at the forefront of pushing towards the overarching objective of a European energy union. We want a fully integrated and secure energy system, able to address the climate challenge while taking into account the social dimension of the transition toward an ultimately decarbonised economy. We want competitive prices and a truly EU-wide level playing field, with renewable energy sources and energy efficiency at its core."
However, the Parliament's Greens were unhappy with the adoption of the report. The group's energy spokesperson, Claude Turmes, argued that; "The direction of EU energy policy is at odds with the commitments Europe has taken under the UN climate agreement in Paris. The agreement implies that the EU should step up efforts to phase out fossil fuels and move towards an economy powered by sustainable energy."
"Unfortunately, so far we are failing to deliver on the promise of the energy union proposal; the Commission's proposal lacks ambition, EU governments are lagging and - as evidenced by the vote - Parliament is failing to put real pressure on them to change track."
According to Parliament's ALDE group, the vote almost failed to take place; the Liberals have accused the ENF group - led by France's Marine Le Pen - of attempting to block it by tabling a large number of amendments at the last minute.
This is not the first time the far-right group has been at the centre of voting controversy; during a recent plenary session, ENF MEP Marcel de Graaf was seen using Le Pen's voting card; this is not permitted.
ALDE deputy Fredrick Federley said; "Sadly, it's not surprising that the far-right ENF group tried to block this report, as they will do anything they can to protect the interests of Putin and keep Europe reliant on Russian fossil fuels. This is an agenda we must be aware of and which must be opposed."
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