European officials, industry leaders seek energy reform

European officials and industry leaders have taken steps toward reviving energy-market reform and setting long-term targets for renewable energy.

The European Council has supported action in five areas that Jose Manuel Durao Barrosso, president of the European Commission, welcomed as a “no regrets scenario.”

The move came as the European Parliament passed a nonlegislative resolution supporting the establishment of a target for renewable energy after 2020—but without setting percentage share.

Meanwhile, the chief executive officers of eight European energy companies—including the oil and gas companies Eni and RWE Dea—issued a joint statement on what they called “the urgent need to tackle the perilous situation facing the European energy sector.”

Council, Parliament moves

The European Council, meeting on energy and tax issues, agreed on these energy steps:

“• The internal energy market should be completed by 2014 and interconnections developed in order for all member states to be connected to European gas and electricity networks by 2015.

“• Significant investments in new and intelligent energy infrastructure are necessary to secure the uninterrupted supply of energy at affordable prices to households and companies.

“• The EU must intensify the diversification of its energy supply and develop local energy resources in order to ensure security of supply and reduce its external energy dependency.

“• Work on the impact of high energy prices and costs must be taken forward. This includes work on energy efficiency and innovative financing methods.”

Barrosso, in a press conference after the council meeting, echoed the industry chiefs’ pessimism about the European status quo on energy.

“The reality is that the global energy landscape is changing very quickly and not in Europe’s favor,” he said. “But we should not be resigned to that.”

The European Parliament’s resolution called for a share of renewable energy in the overall energy mix to 2050 greater than the European Commission’s current working assumption of 30%. It passed an amendment calling for a proposal by the EC for a mandatory, unspecified share for renewables across the European Union for 2030. But it rejected a proposal that the target be 40-45%.

Industry leaders’ statement

In their joint statement, the energy-industry leaders called for “a revitalized EU approach to ensure competitive energy prices and a security supply of energy for European citizens.”

They said, “This action would serve to restore the confidence of energy companies in the attractiveness of a European energy market” and called continued support in the fight against climate change “absolutely crucial.”

They also made these recommendations:

“• An improved market design, including a European coordinated approach to capacity mechanisms in which all assets contributing to the security of supply of European customers are fairly remunerated.

“• A European carbon market able to support climate-friendly technologies and in which a reliable perspective is provided, notably, by establishing ambitious but realistic and stable post-2020 greenhouse gas emissions targets.

“• A more sustainable approach to the promotion of renewables so as to reduce costs for citizens and favor greater convergence between member states.

“• A strengthening of the policy framework to trigger investments in promising technologies, such as energy storage, new renewables, carbon capture and storage, smart grids and meters, and shale gas.”

In addition to Eni and RWE Dea, companies issuing the statement were Enel, Gasterra, GDF Suez, Iberdrola, E.On, and Gasnatural Fenosa.

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