European energy commissioner Günther Oettinger kicks off our special report on offshore oil and gas, writing that, "Safety concerns all European citizens." He argues that member states should ensure the highest safety, health and environmental standards when it comes to offshore oil and gas. "If a major accident took place in Europe, the damage caused by an oil spill would probably not be limited to the country where it occurred." Ireland's communications, energy and natural resources minister Pat Rabbitte, writes, "Ultimately our goal as policy-makers in the area of offshore exploration activity is to improve safety in extremely challenging environments." While parliament's rapporteur on the draft directive for offshore oil and gas Ivo Belet, warns that "Adequate emergency response is vital to limit the consequences of any spill or accident."