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    EU Heralds Energy Union Progress


The programme has helped improve energy security, especially in CEE.

by: Tim Gosling

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EU Heralds Energy Union Progress

The EU’s Energy Union has moved from a vision to reality, a European Commission report released April 9 claimed.

The fourth report on the State of the Energy Union shows that the development of the EU’s internal energy market now guarantees accessible, affordable, secure, competitive and sustainable energy for all Europeans.

Rolled out at the start of the Juncker commission in 2014, the energy union was originally pushed by Donald Tusk, who was then Polish prime minister and is now president of the European Council. He saw it as a way for central and eastern Europe to reinforce one another in the face of Russian dominance of gas supplies.

Gas interconnection between member states to encourage cross-border trade in the event of an interruption to supply, especially across CEE, has been a major plank of the energy union plan. Brussels is also supporting several planned pipelines across the region, including BRUA, Eastring and GIPL. Support has also been given to LNG import terminals in Poland and Lithuania, with Croatia's proposed platform also benefitting.

“A major factor in developing the energy union has strengthened the internal energy market and increased the EU's energy security by investing into new smart infrastructure (including, cross-border), providing a new state-of-the-art market design and introducing a cooperation mechanism between the member states based on solidarity to respond to potential crises in a more effective and efficient manner,” the report reads.

Vice-president Maros Sefcovic, in charge of the Energy Union, said: "The Energy Union is Europe at its best: tackling together the big energy security and energy transition we can't solve within national borders. From the daunting challenge of the energy transition we made an economic opportunity for all Europeans. To do this, we had to truly transform our energy and climate policies: not just tweaks at the margins but systemic change. No member state could have delivered on its own.”

One senior EU source told Euractiv that the Energy Union is “more than just countering Russia” but added that one of the most important developments over the last few years has been ongoing work to decouple the Baltic grid from Russia’s power network. Thanks to their time spent inside the USSR, the Baltic states are still working hard to forge full connections with European energy networks.

The report notes, however, that more now needs to be done to encourage the development of renewable energy. Although the bloc overall is likely to hit its target for 20% of renewable energy by the end of the decade,  the report suggests that individual member states are struggling and that progress could stagnate ahead of 2030, when a 32% target will come into play.

 “We still have a long way to go,” pointed out commissioner for climate action and energy Miguel Arias Canete as he presented the report. “We need to keep up the deployment of renewable energy across Europe and step up efforts to save more energy. We must embark in a process of transformation with a much greater sense of urgency than I see today. With our climate-neutral strategy by 2050, we have sketched out how this can be done, and presented a solid analysis of why and how Europe can achieve climate neutrality; why this model can be replicated by other countries in the world; how climate neutrality, economic prosperity and social fairness can and must go together.”