EU green paper urges common energy policy

European Union nations need a common energy policy to ward off dependence on outside energy supplies, suggests the Energy Supply Safety green paper issued by Energy and Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio. The paper said EU dependence will grow to 70% from 50% in 2020-2030, requiring reductions in demand.


PARIS�European Union nations need a common energy policy to ward off dependence on outside energy supplies, suggests an "Energy Supply Safety" green paper issued by Energy and Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio.

The paper said the dependence will grow to 70% from 50% in 2020-2030. It said Europe has with limited means to act on the supply side, and must change demand. But it said decisions on energy should take into account environmental concerns and the liberalization of the electricity and gas markets.

The commissioner will present an energy savings plan with specific targets for 2010 at the Stockholm European Council next spring.

Admitting that the EU has only "a small margin of action on the energy supply side" and is a powerless actor on the world market," the green paper advocates the use and development of renewable energy sources, including biofuels. Public financial aids and tax rebates should ensure that the share of renewables in the energy mix increases to 12% from the current 6% by 2010, it said. In addition, profitable energies like oil, gas, and nuclear could contribute to financing the development of renewable energy.

De Palacio said EU nations must harmonize their taxes at the highest level. He also urged increased energy efficiency for buildings and use of less polluting transportation systems.

Surprisingly for the EU, the document upheld the contribution of nuclear energy. It said the EU must not lose its nuclear technology expertise and must retain the necessary expertise "to develop more efficient fission reactors and allow fusion to emerge." A number of EU nations, including Germany, are hostile to nuclear power or are phasing it out for various reasons.

The measures advocated to reduce the EU's dependence on outside energy supplies�which should increase as the EU extends membership to more energy-dependent countries�would also contribute to achieving the Kyoto environmental commitments that the EU is finding increasingly difficult to meet.

The EU has committed to stabilize its CO2 emissions in 2000 at the 1990 level, then reduce them by 8% in 2008-2012.

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