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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Solidarity in Europe and other general fun, 02, 2009

Today:
  1. EU debates inviting Russia to join Nabucco
  2. Parliament backs bold plans for EU's energy future
  3. MEPs threaten to walk out of EU energy market talks
  4. Energy solidarity 'still just words', says IEA chief

EU debates inviting Russia to join Nabucco

2 February 2009

Lawmakers in the European Parliament are considering inviting Russia to join the Union's Nabucco gas pipeline project, to avoid competition with rival projects sponsored by Moscow in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute.

The proposal is contained in a reportexternal on the EU's strategic energy review, which is set be voted upon tomorrow in the European Parliament.

French MEP Anne Laperrouze (ALDE), author of the report and vice-chair of the Parliament's committee on industry, research and energy, strongly supports Nabucco and regrets the modest progress made towards its implementation so far.

But she also stresses the need to diversify potential suppliers as uncertainties mount about the ability of Caspian countries to quickly fuel Nabucco with the necessary gas.

In her report, she suggests that instead of competing with Russia, the EU would have more chance of completing the Nabucco project with the help of Moscow.

"[The European Parliament] hopes, by way of example, that the Nabucco gas pipeline project will be carried out in cooperation with Russia in order to avoid competition between two gas pipelines and to be able ultimately to transmit gas from Russia, Iran or the Caspian Sea," the report says. source

My comment: Fun! Really! Anyway, notice how they stopped pretending they'll find gas from other sources than Iran and now they state it openly. That's a good progress I think.

Parliament backs bold plans for EU's energy future

4 February 2009

The European Parliament yesterday (3 February) endorsed a comprehensive blueprint for the bloc's future energy policy, including more ambitious targets on climate change and renewable energies in proposals due to be submitted to EU leaders next month.

MEPs voted 406 in favour and 168 against (87 abstentions) in favour of a reportexternal drawn up by Anne Laperrouze (ALDE, France) on the Second Strategic Energy Review, which was agreed upon last month by the Parliament's committee on industry, research and energy (EurActiv 22/01/09).

The EU's future energy policy will be discussed by EU leaders in the 19-20 March European Council.

In the report, the Parliament urges the Czech EU Presidency and the European Commission to present the summit with a "new ambitious and far-sighted diversification plan". It called for the extension of the EU's supply routes and sources to the Caspian region when "political conditions permit," and mentioned the Nabucco, Turkey-Greece-Italy and South Stream pipelines as alternatives to Russian gas in the aftermath of the gas supply crisis between Russia and Ukraine.

Drawing lessons from the conflict, the bloc's lawmakers called on the Commission to revisit the 2004 Security of Gas Supply Directive to include "emergency action plans", both at EU and national level. They also stressed the need to invest in a single European gas grid, most urgently to connect the Baltic States to the Western European network.

To avoid future disruptions, the MEPs suggested adding an "energy security clause" to cooperation agreements with transit and producer countries to ensure that commercial disputes do not lead to supply disruptions.

In the long run, MEPs said the bloc should set ambitious climate goals for 2050, namely a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80%, improve energy efficiency by 35%, and increase the share of renewables in the EU's energy mix to 60%.source

My comment: All sounds fine, but I don't get one thing. They think that the most urgent grid is the Baltic-West one?! Are they serious? Eastern countries stayed for weeks without gas and all they think about is their commercial interests!!!That's absurd. Anyway, apart from that, the plan, even if somewhat too optimistic, sounds good.

MEPs threaten to walk out of EU energy market talks

12 February 2009

MEPs are considering walking out of negotiations on opening the EU's gas and electricity markets as talks between the European Parliament, the EU executive and the Czech EU Presidency appear to be deadlocked.

MEPs expressed their disappointment with the Czech EU Presidency, accusing it of lacking respect for the Union's co-legislator when debating the third energy market liberalisation package.

During a debate in the Parliament's committee on industry, research and energy (ITRE) today (12 February), they argued that the presidency is failing to cooperate, not only on this file but also on telecommunications and the Working Time Directive.

Last week's trialogue meeting was "stormy" and left the Parliament "very frustrated with the Council," a source close to the file told EurActiv. MEPs are now looking ahead to the meeting on 18 February as the "point of no return".

The main bone of contention remains the issue of 'ownership unbundling' (EurActiv 29/05/08). The Parliament backs the full break-up of large vertically-integrated energy firms which simultaneously control electricity production and distribution assets.

By contrast, under pressure from France and Germany, the Council is proposing a "third way" alternative, giving former state monopolies the right to retain ownership of their gas and electricity grids, provided that they are subject to outside supervision.

MEPs argued that while they had repeatedly shown willingness to compromise, the Council refused to budge from its position, not only on unbundling but also on foreign investments (the so-called 'Gazprom clause'), smart meters and the powers of national regulatory authorities, which the Parliament sees as entirely independent of governmental supervision.

MEPs would like to see consumer protection and energy poverty on the agenda alongside unbundling, but there is also disagreement regarding the order of topics discussed. The committee lamented that the Council had refused to discuss these somewhat less controversial issues before diving into unbundling.

A Czech Presidency official brushed off the accusations as a negotiation strategy. He insisted that the Council is cooperating fully, but needs to preserve some room for manoeuvre, because it was difficult to reach a common position in the first place. source

My comment: Isn't it interesting how the Council loves to ignore the Parliament. When, if you think carefully, the Parliament really is democratically chosen by the European citizens and it must protect their interest. While the Council usually represents only national interests in the best case, in the general case, the industrial interests. That would be interesting to watch. It might develop to be the next big thing in Europe.

Energy solidarity 'still just words', says IEA chief

10 February 2009

Several EU governments did not show solidarity over the recent gas crisis, former executive director of the International Energy Agency Claude Mandil told EurActiv in an interview.

This lack of solidarity is due to "a lack of political will" in some EU member states to address Europe's energy security, Mandil claimed.

For instance, the Italian government has issued a decree "saying that any operator supplying gas in Italy has to divert all its imports" to support the country. This is "a total shame," said Mandil, because it indicates that Italy "doesn't care for a second about the global supply of Europe".

The absence of European solidarity is also "exacerbated" by other factors, such as the lack of investment in "compressors to move gas eastwards and westwards," across the continent, the expert told EurActiv.

Furthermore, "a lot has to be done to increase LNG terminals to increase energy efficiency and to go more nuclear," Mandil claimed.

As for signs from Slovakia and Bulgaria that they intend to restart their nuclear reactors (EurActiv 12/01/09), the expert said they are just a "knee-jerk reaction under heavy political pressure" from the gas crisis. The countries committed themselves not to keep the reactors open as a condition of their accession to the EU and there is "no way" of changing this, Mandil said.

Instead, "we should express real solidarity with those countries," he argued.

Without going as far as saying that nuclear energy will become a more popular option following the gas crisis, Mandil admitted that "more and more countries, and more parts of public opinion, realise that in the long-term, [nuclear energy] is a competitive way of producing electricity without emitting CO2".

The IEA expert also expressed his doubts about the Nabucco pipeline project, fearing that there is "not enough gas to fill [it], as we do not get gas from Iran".

Turkey's gas needs are "enormous," Mandil added, expressing scepticism as to whether Turkey would be "prepared to play the game of the fair transit country".

To read the interview in full, please click here. source

My comment:I urge you to read the whole interview, as it is very interesting. And I completely agree on solidarity. Simply no such thing in Europe.

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