International cooperation is crucial in responding to global energy challenges such as climate change, environmental protection, and volatile prices.
With global energy demand growing rapidly, the EU faces increasing competition for fossil fuels. It works with its international partners to ensure secure supplies of energy at competitive prices for Europe. At the same time, the success of EU policies to tackle worldwide greenhouse gas emissions also hinges on the energy policies of other countries.
Intergovernmental agreements made by EU countries
When individual EU countries negotiate international energy agreements with non-EU countries, they share information on these agreements with the European Commission and each other. This is done through the Commission's information exchange mechanism. It ensures that these agreements do not violate EU laws or hamper the internal energy market.
EU cooperation with other countries
The EU strives to maintain good relations with its key suppliers of natural gas, oil, coal, and other energy resources. In particular, this means working closely with Norway and Russia who supply over half of the EU's gas. It also involves cooperation with OPEC countries who provide over 40% of the EU's oil; states in the Gulf Cooperation Council; and emerging suppliers in Africa, the Americas, and Central Asia and the Caucasus.
China, Russia, the United States and Norway
China, Russia, and the United States are some of the largest economies on earth and their actions have an important impact on EU efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ensure affordable energy, and enhance security of supply. Energy markets in these countries may also present lucrative opportunities for EU businesses.
Norway is a key energy partner for the EU and major supplier of oil and gas and electricity. It is a member of the European Economic Area Agreement and it applies EU internal energy market rules.
The Eastern Partnership
The Eastern Partnership is an initiative to help Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine increase economic, political, and cultural links with the EU. It includes energy security as one of its 'thematic platforms'. The energy work programme for 2014-2017 involves finding ways to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, nuclear safety, and the construction of missing infrastructure links.
The EU launched an annual energy dialogue with Brazil in 2007. The dialogue facilitates the exchange of views in areas such as biofuels, low carbon technologies, and energy efficiency.
The EU-India energy dialogue focuses on the development of clean coal technologies, enhancing energy security, increasing energy efficiency, promoting renewables and smart grids, and assisting India in energy market reforms. The EU-India Energy Panel meets once a year to discuss energy related topics. In addition, policy makers and energy stakeholders meet regularly to discuss EU-India energy matters.
The EU and Japan discuss topics such as nuclear energy, energy security, and technology through the EU-Japan energy dialogue. Expert-level exchanges on developments in the gas market have also been taking place since 2013.
South Africa is a major exporter of coal and it supplies the EU with about 6% of its coal. The EU and South Africa take part in a joint working group every year to discuss coal, clean coal, and carbon capture and storage.
Turkey is a candidate for EU membership, and as a major energy importing country, energy dialogue with Turkey is particularly important. It is also a potential transit country for natural gas to flow from the Caucuses and Central Asia into the EU. The EU cooperates with Turkey to enable the integration of the Turkish gas and electricity markets into its internal energy market. Turkey is also an observer in the Energy Community.
Ukraine is a member of the Energy Community since February 2011 and is committed to integrating its energy market with the EU's. It is also a key transit country for EU energy imports from Russia. In particular, over 50% of Russian gas supplies to the EU go through pipelines in Ukraine.
In 2005, the EU and Ukraine signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Energy. The Memorandum sets out roadmaps for EU-Ukraine cooperation in:
- the safety of nuclear power plants in Ukraine
- the integration of Ukraine's electricity and gas markets with the EU internal energy market
- the security and transit of energy supplies
- the Ukrainian coal sector
- energy efficiency and renewables
Union for the Mediterranean
Launched in 2008, the Union for the Mediterranean promotes economic integration and cooperation amongst the 41 countries in the region, including all EU countries.
In energy, the goal is to create an integrated Mediterranean energy market, and to promote renewables and energy efficiency. This involves the flagship Mediterranean Solar Plan project which aimed to create the regulatory and financial conditions necessary to exploit the region's vast solar and wind resources.
EU cooperation with international organisations
The EU also works with important international energy organisations including the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Energy Community – extending the EU's internal market
The Energy Community is an international organisation which aims to integrate neighbouring countries into the EU's internal energy market. The extension of the internal market to these countries is intended to increase regional competition and improve security of supply.