Welcome to another edition of The Parliament.
It’s been quite a winter.
As gas and electricity prices surged and EU policymakers grappled (and grappled, and grappled) over how to manage the bloc’s energy crisis, even Europeans who generally eschew politics couldn’t help but notice the chilly bite of our new geopolitical reality.
Hence this edition of The Parliament, which we’ve dedicated, somewhat ambitiously, to exploring the past, present and future of energy in Europe.
Efforts to make Europe more energy self-sufficient emerge, not surprisingly, as an important theme across the magazine. In this month’s feature profile, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson tells Gabriele Rosana that the energy crisis has transformed the bloc forever. Recalling Russia’s 40% share of the EU’s energy market prior to Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the commissioner insists that, “We will never return to a situation in which one single supplier will have such numbers.”
You’ll find plenty to reflect on in our opinion pages. In his piece on AI-optimised energy production, MEP Axel Voss discusses the importance of a different kind of independence: a digital energy infrastructure that isn’t reliant on, and thus vulnerable to, actors outside the bloc. The European Blind Union’s Lars Bosselmann reminds us that, for the approximately 100 million Europeans with disabilities, soaring energy prices mean an increased risk of falling into “energy poverty”.
Two of our features explore ambitious projects to forge alternative, more sustainable energy models. Linda A Thompson reports on Belgium’s ambitions to become Europe’s first green hydrogen hub, while Fjori Sinoruka reports on a solar energy community in Albania (accompanied by some stellar photographs by Ilir Tsouko). We also cast our eyes to the past: In her piece on Giorgia Meloni’s “Mattei Plan”, Laura Lamberti looks at the fascinating history of Enrico Mattei and the role he played in securing Italy’s role as a contender in energy politics.
We’d be remiss not to mention the terrible anniversary on all of our minds. It’s been one year since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Much of this magazine’s coverage stems from the impact of the war on life here in the EU, but we'd also like to point you to a Ukrainian art exhibition roundup on P.44. What do we lose when a nation’s cultural treasures are destroyed? Thanks to the heroic efforts of curators in Kharkiv, more than 1,000 pieces of Ukrainian art live to see, and be seen, another day.
Speaking of Ukrainian art, we’re pleased to direct your eyes to this month’s cover by Ukrainian artist and illustrator Masha Foya.
All this and more, in this month’s The Parliament.