November 2013

Energy in Europe

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These are my final days as Director General for Energy and as a European civil servant. It has been a privilege for me to work for over … years/decades for an ideal which I, and so many others, strongly believe in. A prosperous Europe, united in shared values, a single market and empowered citizens, was - and still is - truly worth striving for. European energy policy helps to take us closer to this goal.

This month's events mean we can look forward to closer energy cooperation with neighbouring regions, from the Mediterranean to the Caspian, leading to greater security and diversity in energy supplies.

External relations were also high on the agenda at the November Energy Council, the last under the Lithuanian Presidency before the baton passes to the Greek Presidency on 1 January 2014.

The London Citizens Forum demonstrated that, in this European Year of Citizens, the ordinary consumer has moved centre stage in energy policy development.

Next month, my successor, Dominique Ristori, will take the helm. It will be an exciting start, with the Commission due to adopt its proposals for a new energy and climate framework for 2030 in January.

I send all our readers my best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Philip Lowe


Philip Lowe

Director-General for Energy

Press room – Highlights of the month

Gas from Azerbaijan: Commission welcomes final investment decision to extract gas pledged for Europe

The European Commission welcomed today's final investment decision (FID) on extracting gas from the Shah Deniz II gas field in Azerbaijan. With this long-awaited decision, it is confirmed that Europe will get 10 billion cubics metres (bcm) per year starting from end 2019. All decisions taken so far - including to choose TAP as pipeline to bring gas to Europe - were conditional on this final investment decision.

EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said: "This decision to open the Southern Gas Corridor is a real breakthrough. Through its further enlargement, the corridor will have the potential to meet up to 20 per cent of the EU’s gas needs in the long term.”

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Commission investigates possible breaches of state aid rules in the UK and German energy sectors, and also looks to update the current state aid guidelines

The Commission has launched two investigations into the possible breaches of the EU's state aid rules in the UK and German energy sectors.  These rules prevent companies being unfairly advantaged over competitors through government support. The Commission has also begun a consultation to further develop guidelines on how these rules apply to the environmental and energy sectors in particular.

Read more:


Featured posts from our Social Media / Audiovisual Corner

Günther Oettinger @GOettingerEU


11 December 2013

Welcome to the first Union for the Mediterranean Ministerial Meeting on Energy: countries getting closer through #energy partnerships. #UfM"

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12 December 2013

Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council

- extracts from the press conference by Jaroslav NEVEROVIČ, Minister of Energy of the Republic of Lithuania; and Günther OETTINGER, Member of the EC in charge of Energy

Watch the Press conference:

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Event in the spotlight

16-17 December 2013
6th Citizens' Energy Forum (London)

The Forum provides a central platform - for the European energy sector, consumers and policy makers alike - to evaluate current work and to identify and prioritise future plans.  Key conclusions include the need for close structural collaboration on enforcement at Member State level among relevant actors, including energy regulators, public consumer authorities, independent energy ombudsmen and consumer organisations.  Different stakeholder groups should take action to ensure vulnerable consumers are appropriately supported, and that consumers are fully aware of their rights and opportunities as energy markets develop. The Forum also calls on the industry, regulators, and consumer and civil society organisations to be enablers of consumer awareness and choice, and of the development of accessible, competitive and innovative services that will stimulate market activity.

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Background story

Leading the way in making Europe's cities smarter – Frequently asked questions

Cities are the major source of European economic activity and innovation. But cities are also a major source of greenhouse gases and pollution. Concerted action is needed to make urban environments cleaner and healthier to live in and to make them use less energy. The European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Smart Cities and Communities and its "Strategic Implementation Plan" are leading the way in making the transformation of cities into "Smart Cities" a reality. Real impact could be made through investments in 'zero/plus' energy districts, increased use of alternative energies for cleaner transport, public transport and efficient logistics to reduce negative impacts of congestion, or green, widely available ICTs and multiple-use infrastructures.

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Question from a Member of the European Parliament

Question E-012223/2013

Rachida Dati (PPE)  

Subject:     Relevance of the REFIT (Regulatory Fitness and Performance) programme for harmonising energy policy

I recently asked the Commission a question about the discrepancies between environmental, energy and climate targets. These targets, individually, are commendable. However, together they combine to weaken our industrial competitiveness.

This inconsistency is particularly obvious when it comes to renewable energy. Subsidies for renewable energy distort the market and force people to prioritise using energy sources that are naturally intermittent. The result is that they are currently weakening our energy security.

That is also one of the main messages sent out to EU leaders by 10 of our flagship energy companies two weeks ago. I supported that call for a robust European energy policy, which is, above all, in the interest of the citizens I represent.

I am questioning the Commission once again today, but it is because I think that the REFIT programme, launched in early October 2013 with the aim of simplifying and easing European legislation, provides an excellent opportunity to tackle these inconsistent targets. The idea of keeping a single target, that of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, would, in particular, give the market greater flexibility, promoting greater efficiency.

However, I regret that the Commission’s working programme for 2014, published two days ago, does not hint at any desire to go down this route. Worse still, the Commission’s priority is to establish new targets for 2030, piling contradiction upon contradiction.

Can the Commission therefore justify its choices and say how it will simplify these energy targets and make them more consistent in the near future?

As foreseen already when the 2020 package was prepared and adopted, there is indeed an interaction between the headline targets. Measures to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy generally contribute e.g. to reductions in GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions and on the other hand measures to reduce GHG emissions generally also incentivise both renewables development and energy savings. In the Commission's opinion, there is no intrinsic contradiction between these targets and they all contribute to competitiveness, decarbonisation and resource efficiency.

As far as Renewable energy (RES) is concerned, the Renewable Energy Directive  has contributed to good progress in penetration of RES in the EU energy mix, bringing about growth and jobs in this sector, reduction of CO2 emissions and last but not least reduction of our import dependency. In this sense, RES are helping increase our security of supply in Europe. The efforts to promote RES have also significantly reduced the costs of these technologies.

However RES support schemes need to be revised and coordinated across the EU, in order to make them more cost-efficient. This is exactly the purpose of the Communication adopted on 5 November. Furthermore, the REFIT Communication of October 2013 announces a REFIT evaluation of the Renewable Energy Directive.

As for the period post-2020 economic operators and stakeholders need to have certainty about the future energy and climate regulatory framework. The Commission is finalising a proposal for a climate and energy policy framework for 2030. Consistent target setting is one of the key issues addressed.


Figure of the month


Total amount of payments done for European Energy Programme for Recovery projects (30 June 2013)


Coming up next


Scheduled for Commission adoption

22 January 2014

  • 2030 framework for climate and energy policies
  • Communication/report analysing the composition and drivers of energy prices and costs in Member States



20-21 January 2014
Stakeholder Conference on Nuclear Third Party Liability and Insurance

Read more:

20-27 January 2014
EU in-depth review (IDR)

27-28 January 2014
EU – Russia Summit

Call For Tenders 

Horizon 2020: Experts wanted for biggest EU research programme yet
The call for expression of interest will remain open for the lifetime of Horizon 2020!  Press release

Until 10 January 2014
"Long-range energy system modelling for the period up to 2050"

Until 31 January 2014
"Study on improving efficiency of the implementation of Euratom nuclear safeguards "





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