Having broadly spoken on the state of the art in this newsletter, this time we focus on the reasons why the Energy Union is so important to develop a sustainable economy, an independent actor in the political arena and an inclusive welfare system.
The Energy Union should be based on a sustainable economic development model. The focus of the European energy system must shift from the supply side to the demand side, and from a rampant production model to a model aimed at reducing consumption, and therefore demand. Tackling waste by producing, transporting and consuming energy in a sensible way is the cornerstone of the transition and is known as energy efficiency.
Making this a priority in Europe involves placing energy efficiency on an equal footing with other energy resources, and to deal with them together as part of a single energy transition. To make this happen, a decisive step must be taken towards the transition, guided by a stable and credible carbon price. The optimum instrument, in particular against the backdrop of a downward trend in oil prices, remains EU-wide carbon taxation. At the same time, subsidies for fossil fuels must be phased out as soon as possible.
The Energy Union creates wealth and well-being for all Europeans. A new industrial strategy must be developed based on innovation and the implementation of digital and information technologies in the energy sector. If the EU wishes to become the global leader in low-carbon technologies, it must launch this revolution from a European valley for energy transition innovation, instead of it coming from Silicon Valley, as it does today. Research, widely fragmented in both the public and private sectors, must be federated in rational terms and integrate the various stakeholders along the green technology development chain. Public and private investments must focus on high added-value innovation that creates jobs, rather than on the deployment of mature technologies on the market.
The Energy Union is inclusive and promotes solidarity where necessary, such as ensuring an energy supply for all at a universally affordable price. Europe’s new drive must now come from the younger generations who live Europe on a daily basis, and who feel European when they travel beyond the physical, political and cultural boundaries of the European Union. Offering them a better education and training in the challenges and opportunities provided by this new European energy transition model is a task that the European Union is capable of performing, as it has already shown through the Erasmus program, because they are legitimately concerned about the future of our planet earth.
The energy transition will also affect jobs in the energy sector, both by creating new jobs and by phasing out others. A European social dialogue in the energy sector will be necessary to support this far-reaching change.
The Energy Union avoids a nationalistic approach that aims to maintain costly and unrealistic energy independence in an interdependent world. European energy diplomacy strives to share and defend our energy transition project across the globe. It must naturally defend European interests in European trade policies. These policies must together ensure the diversification of suppliers and the access to energy resources located outside the borders of the EU rather than maintaining the current individualization of risks facing each member state acting separately.
Interdependence and reciprocity in market access and the opening up to foreign investments must be two mainstays in such a strategy. European energy diplomacy must also proudly acclaim our vision and interests with regard to the energy transition. Whether on a bilateral or multilateral level, the key idea is not speaking with one voice, but conveying a clear and unequivocal European message, regardless of the spokesperson.
The Energy Union requires a shared understanding of national, European and international energy challenges, based on a collective and comprehensive analysis of the constantly changing political, economic, societal and market dynamics.
The long-term project to be carried out by the Energy Union will only be possible if the European energy policy is revised and finalized in the short-term. Revising the European energy policy is a unique opportunity to build a stronger and more coherent European energy regulatory space governed by common institutions able to deliver effective solutions on the basis of democratic legitimacy. It will take time to carry out the full reform needed and the EU cannot afford to wait too long to build a coherent and effective common energy policy.
The Energy Union and the European energy policy have a common goal: to promote the integration of energy markets for the benefit of citizens in Europe and beyond. Freedom from energy insecurity reduces the risks of conflict. Peace is what Europe is about. Humanity is at a crossroads. It is critical to start now the Energy Union for the long-term.