Energy union: It's time for more ambition

Written by Morten Helveg Petersen on 26 October 2017 in Opinion
Opinion

An ambitious energy union takes cooperation and compromise, writes Morten Helveg Petersen.

Morten Helveg Petersen | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual


There is no doubt in my mind: The energy union is the answer to many of the highly important issues Europe is dealing with today. It’s energy security and fairer prices. It’s a transition to a more efficient energy system - among many other things.

The Commission published the foundation package with the building blocks for the energy union last year. The ambition was to create an internal market and an improved infrastructure that enables energy to float from country to country without technical or economic barriers. This year we all aim to deliver.

As a Vice-Chair of Parliament’s energy committee, I am now taking part in amending the proposals, but it’s not an easy task. Our biggest challenge is ensuring a joined up, coordinated and coherent approach. As each of the files is part of complex system, it is essential that a common vision is adopted across the different areas.


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Compromises are forming and battles are being fought in different areas as the work progresses. And, national interests are exerting their influence along with the many civil society and industry stakeholders which further adds to the complexity of this challenge.

However, my hope is that we’ll be able to look past these challenges and find common ground for ambitious amendments - we must.

We are experiencing progress in the energy committee. I’ve been working on the revision of a directive that was just adopted by the committee. We’ve enjoyed good cooperation across party lines on this file. 

Improving the standards for new and renovated buildings will give better value to consumers, warmer homes in winter, cut energy bills and thus help us reduce our demand for Russian gas. It will even create many local jobs. Overall, it will help us to gain energy independence and contribute to a better climate. It’s a real win-win.

Not all of the files on which we work are easy to communicate to the wider audience, but I’m optimistic that our other results will be just as positive.

I’m the rapporteur on the ACER-file. ACER is the agency monitoring the European energy market and I hope we will be able to give it the necessary resources to ensure better energy trade in our union. Again, we must.

But this is controversial, as many people consider ACER to be a threat to their local and regional monopolies in the electricity sector. From my point of view, it’s a vehicle for delivering better value for the consumers in every single EU member state.

The ACER file is crucial to develop a fully functioning energy union. The agency’s mission is to regulate and coordinate the work of national energy regulators and to work towards an internal market, where we’re able to easily buy and sell renewable energy across European borders.

The biggest challenge is to secure legislation which delivers on the positive objectives of cleaner, more affordable and secure energy for every single EU citizen. This does also count for the closely related energy marked design fi les.

Even though most of us agree on the outcome, we still have very different views on how best to achieve this. Some believe it is through open liberal markets, while others will argue, it’s through more state intervention.

We also have to ask ourselves: Do we take a “technology neutral” approach, effectively accepting the status quo of coal, oil, gas and nuclear as our main energy sources? Or do we put long-term environmental and economic sustainability and innovation first?

I believe that we have to push and shake up the market to allow renewables and advanced storage technologies to shape the best possible energy market of the future.

The challenge for me and the other members of Parliament is to come together to deliver the best result for everyone - to create an energy union that enables renewable energy and security from Russia and that delivers for us today and for our children tomorrow.

This is why it is the time for close cooperation and dialogue. It’s the time to find common solution for common problems. It’s time for ambition.

 

About the author

Morten Helveg Petersen (ALDE, DK) is a Vice-Chair of Parliament’s industry, research and energy committee

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