What’s at stake
A stable energy supply is essential to keep civic life and the economy going. It quite literally keeps our lights on, our houses warm and our factories running. In some EU Member States, citizens take this for granted as energy crises seem something of a distant past. In other Member States, memories of energy shortages are still fresh.
Providing a stable energy supply is not only an economic (how much does it cost) and logistical (how to get it from producer to consumer) question, but also a geopolitical one. Geopolitical conflicts caused Europe’s largest energy crises.
The EU has several policies to improve energy security, such as diversification of supply sources and routes, minimum stock requirements, and critical infrastructure protection. Investments have also been made in pipeline flow reversibility. Despite these good intentions, the EU’s total energy dependency has increased. In 2000, 56 per cent of the EU’s energy was imported from outside the EU. In 2018, this had gone up to 58 per cent. By far, the largest source of imported energy remains Russia.
Current major challenges include:
- EU domestic energy production is declining due to natural causes. For example, oil and gas fields in the North Sea are becoming less productive as they are depleted.
- EU domestic energy production is also declining due to political choice. For example, polluting power plants and nuclear power plants are being shut down, but the increase in output from renewable energy sources cannot yet compensate for this.
- Renewable energy supply is much less predictable than fossil and nuclear energy supply.
- Energy policies enacted by some Member States are harmful to the interests of other Member States.
- ECR Members have consistently promoted energy security as a horizontal need for all EU policies. Some examples of our actions:
- We have promoted nuclear energy as an indispensable part of our energy mix. It is reliable, clean, and much better for public health than most alternatives.
- We have pushed back against unrealistic demands for renewable energy. Our members have published reports that show how much land and sea needs to be covered with windmills and solar panels if these would become our primary energy sources.
- Several ECR Members are working on sensible policies for hydrogen, which is a more realistic emission-free fuel for air traffic, sea transport and heavy vehicles.
- Our Members have highlighted the risk of energy poverty if certain traditional energy sources are phased out too fast.
- ECR Members have strongly objected to Nord Stream 2, as this gas pipeline severely undermines energy security for Central and Eastern European countries.
- ECR Members defend the freedom of Member States to determine their energy mix despite the efforts by the European Commission to increase already ambitious climate and energy targets; ECR Members coming from Central and Eastern European countries raise attention to the reality that the Member States have different starting points in following the ambitious decarbonisation pathway;
- Several ECR Members coming from so-called Coal regions in transition, which are heavily dependent on fossil fuels, are vocal about the challenges that those regions are facing due to an ongoing shift in EU climate and energy policies;
- Ahead of the expected publication of the “Fit for 55“ package by the European Commission in July 2021, the ECR Group firmly stands for a realistic approach that would not destabilise the energy market in the post-COVID 19 new-normal.