Commission guide: EU energy union has 'huge momentum'

Maroš Šefčovič says 'the time is ripe' for delivering on the commission’s energy union proposals.

By James O'Brien

17 Feb 2015

In his book 'Driving the EU Forward - Straight talks with Maroš Šefčovič', the former Slovak permanent representative to the EU calls for a decisive break "with the darker forces of chauvinism and mutual hostility that cast a shadow over much of Europe's 20th century history". Šefčovič believes that whatever its "current imperfections", the EU offers "the best hope in these turbulent times". As vice-president with responsibility for overseeing the coordination of Europe's energy needs, he insists "the time is ripe for energy union". Šefčovič says, "my job is to push for a resilient energy union with a forward looking climate policy, identified as one of the policy priorities of the Juncker commission." The EU has "a clear vision of the kind of energy union we need" and "work has started" on delivering "a system that ensures affordable energy for our companies and citizens, with secure energy for all member states". The Slovak commissioner is also focused on "green energy for future generations" and insists the EU and members states need to "speak with one voice on the international scene".

"EU leaders have recently agreed on new targets for energy and climate for 2030 and a comprehensive security of supply strategy"

The former career diplomat has identified five dimensions to making real progress on the energy union. These are: "energy security, based on solidarity and trust, which includes reducing our energy dependence and diversifying our energy sources and supplies; a competitive completed internal energy market; energy efficiency, something that can contribute to moderation of demand in sectors such as housing and transport where there is still a huge, untapped potential; decarbonisation of our economies; and a research and innovation agenda".

Šefčovič believes the importance of his work as vice-president for energy union can be measured "in the creation of a dedicated post" for his role and the "huge momentum for the energy union at European level now". The Slovak official says, "EU leaders have recently agreed on new targets for energy and climate for 2030 and a comprehensive security of supply strategy". Šefčovič insists "recent geopolitical events show more than ever the need for Europe to reduce its import dependency".

The Slovak vice-president, who first joined the EU executive in 2009, says the commission of Jean-Claude Juncker started "with a promise to be different" and to be "bigger on big things". "The 'big things' we are targeting are those policies which truly have a profound impact on the lives of citizens across the EU." The structure of the commission "fully matches" the focus on "jobs, growth, fairness and democratic change" and "the energy union project team covers many different policy areas which are often interlinked and can only succeed when we address it together". The project team is "a collective effort with 14 commissioners involved" and has "already proved to be very efficient and is starting to produce tangible results", according to Šefčovič.

"I have very much listened and taken note of the priorities, concerns and ideas of MEPs"

The Slovak official describes the European parliament as the commission's "strategic partner and we have always had very fruitful cooperation with MEPs". In his former role as commission vice-president for inter-institutional relations and administration, he said he always received "very good cooperation" from parliamentarians. He has already presented his ideas for the energy union to the relevant committees of parliament and describes the feedback of MEPs as "very valuable input". He adds, "I have very much listened and taken note of the priorities, concerns and ideas of MEPs. I agree that the European parliament, as one of the legislators, has a key role to play in making the energy union happen."

The commission vice-president says the energy strategy of the European Union "is driven by the overarching objective of providing secure, affordable and sustainable energy supplies to its citizens and businesses and the energy union will help further this objective through various concrete actions which the commission plans to present by the end of February". Sefčovič notes that, "Europe relies heavily on fuel and gas imports", accounting for 53 per cent of Europe’s energy and a bill of over €400bn per year in imports. He believes, "We need to reduce this dependency by diversifying our sources, suppliers and routes." These actions to be proposed by the commission will "first and foremost focus on ensuring security of supply for Europe, which should be based on solidarity and trust between the member states".

Maroš Šefčovič is European commission vice-president responsible for energy union


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