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Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik at the FT Global Shale Energy Summit (London): "A European Strategy for Shale"


“In line with their own national priorities, EU Member States have chosen different ways of securing our future energy needs. The UK and Poland are currently the frontrunners in looking into the possibility of developing a shale gas sector as part of their energy mix. Shale gas could indeed well bring a positive contribution to economic activity and jobs, and become a part of the energy transition agenda here. But a coin has always two faces. We have to recognize that the technology used today for shale gas extraction – high volume hydraulic fracturing or fracking - also raises environmental concerns related for instance to water pollution, the use of chemicals, air emissions, induced seismicity, as well as community impacts (linked to transport and land use in particular). Some of these risks and impacts can have cross-border effects. The European Commission's objective is to put in place a framework that would reap the potential economic and energy benefits of shale gas, and ensure that extraction activities using fracking are carried out with proper climate and environmental safeguards. In other words, we want to establish public confidence and reassure people, provide legal clarity and predictability for competent authorities and operators and create a level playing field within Europe, while respecting the EU's commitments towards decarbonisation and resource efficiency. Because whether shale gas becomes a success story in Europe or not, whether it is profitable or not, we need to remain consistent with our agreed long term economic strategy based on bringing about a low carbon, resource-efficient economy.”