Szymanski: We need a new agreement on EU energy and climate policy

‘The European Union’s energy and climate policy pays no regard to the economic and developmental differences between Central Europe and the western Member States.

‘The European Union’s energy and climate policy pays no regard to the economic and developmental differences between Central Europe and the western Member States. We need a new agreement on climate policy that offers greater flexibility,’ ­said Konrad Szymański, MEP for the Polish ‘Law and Justice’ party and co‑organiser of the ‘Energy Security in Central Europe’ conference, today.

A Polish‑German conference on energy security was held today in the European Parliament in Brussels. It was organised by MEPs Konrad Szymański and Herbert Reul, alongside Central Europe Energy Partners (CEEP), a Brussels‑based organisation that represents companies in the fuel and energy sector.

In many parts of Europe, the economic crisis has raised awareness of the importance of energy prices, as well as of the fact that we cannot allow ourselves to forgo the resources available to us in order to become world leaders in the fight against climate change. We need to strike an appropriate balance between affordable and safe energy, and efforts to combat climate change,’ said MEP Herbert Reul, EPP coordinator in the ITRE Committee.

‘The fall in demand for energy in Central Europe is extremely misleading. I totally disagree with the argument that coal is the fuel of the past. I understand that shale gas must be extracted in a sustainable and environmentally responsible way. However, I fail to grasp why some Member States are convinced that hydraulic fracturing should be subject to an outright ban in Europe,’ said Günter Verheugen, former Vice‑President of the European Commission.

‘A very important debate is taking place today regarding the future shape of EU energy and climate policy. Central Europe faces specific problems: low diversification of supplies, high prices and a heavy reliance on coal. Moreover, the region’s voice is still not heard loudly enough in the EU. This prompted the decision to draft the German‑Polish report, which sets out tough conditions that must be met if Europe’s energy project is to be successful. Every office in Brussels should have a copy of this study, especially since tough negotiations are currently taking place regarding reinforcing climate policy,’ said ‘Law and Justice’ MEP Konrad Szymański.

Among the meeting’s attendees were Günter Verheugen, former Vice‑President of the European Commission; Piotr Piela, partner at Ernst&Young; Traycho Traykov, former Bulgarian Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism, and Filip Grzegorczyk, management representative for energy development issues at Kompania Węglowa S.A. The more than 60 attendees also included MEPs, representatives of the EU institutions, and representatives of the European energy sector.

The Prague Report, which was presented at the conference, was commissioned by Central Europe Energy Partners and produced by Ernst&Young. It sets out the key differences between the energy sectors and economies of Central European countries and those of the EU‑15.

Below are the opening remarks made by Konrad Szymański:

We all agree that European energy policy should be based on three principles: economic competitiveness, security of supply and environmental protection. However, as this policy was shaped and implemented through the years, it became apparent that these three principles were being applied differently in individual Member States, and that Central Europe differed fundamentally from the rest of the EU in many aspects.

Our national product – i.e. that of Central European countries – remains comparatively energy‑intensive, so energy prices are of greater significance to our economies.

Our large coal reserves – a traditional primary energy source – are facing an increasing number of obstacles on the European market, obstacles which our competitors do not face.

Thanks to our coal reserves, our current reliance on energy imports is relatively minor. However, EU climate policy threatens to aggravate this situation in time. In the long term, the increasing role of oil and gas puts us at greater risk of becoming dependent on imports than any other part of Europe.

There are even more such divergences. They are certainly not being addressed by current EU policy. This must change.

We have therefore decided to present more in‑depth data in order to open up the debate on a new EU energy and climate policy agreement. Given the ongoing crisis, this new agreement should be more flexible, and it should take greater account of the economic, investment, energy and climate divergences on our continent.’

A photo gallery and video report will soon be available on this website.

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