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Commission publishes new studies on unconventional gas
On 7 September 2012 the European Commission published three new studies on unconventional fossil fuels, in particular shale gas. The studies look at the potential effects of these fuels on energy markets, the potential climate impact of shale gas production, and the potential risks shale gas developments and associated hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") may present to human health and the environment.
Energy: Commission publishes study on shale gas
On 27 January 2012 the Commission published a study on the licensing and permitting procedures for shale gas project. Based on a sample of four Member States (France, Germany, Poland and Sweden) the study concludes that there are no significant gaps in coverage in the current EU legislative framework, at least for regulating the current level of shale gas activities.
As regards possible areas for improvement of national regulatory frameworks the study especially considers it as problematic that currently public participation in the authorisation process for exploration projects is often rather limited. It also stresses that the application of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive should not be linked to gas production thresholds alone and it emphasises that regulations should provide legal certainty for investors.
Europeans strongly in favour of EU energy solidarity
According to the last European Parliament's Eurobarometer on energy, almost 80% of European citizens are in favour of solidarity between Member States in the event of supply difficulties. The survey also shows that 60% of Europeans consider they would be better protected through a EU coordinated approach of energy policies above national measures, which constitutes a further plea for the "europeanisation" of energy policy. In addition, among priorities in energy comprising the stability of energy prices, renewable energy and security of supply, energy efficiency only comes fourth with only 16% of Europeans considering it a priority field. A striking result calling for immediate action as regards information on new measures to promote more energy savings.
The EU is committed to meet this challenge and energy efficiency has become one of its main priorities. The Commission will present in March a new Energy Efficiency Action Plan with several actions to give all citizens the opportunity to consume less and better.