Improved coordination among governments will strengthen the EU's hand when negotiating with international energy suppliers.
The EU's reliance on imported energy is growing, and a clear strategy is required to promote its energy interests abroad. Competition for overseas oil, gas and coal supplies and disruptions lead to high and volatile energy prices at the pump and for heating homes.
A new Commission proposal would establish a way for EU countries to join forces when bargaining with suppliers and negotiating international agreements. The plan would help secure supplies for everyone at competitive prices.
A common position would also help promote strong energy partnerships with key neighbours. International cooperation is needed to respond to the common challenges facing the EU and most other countries - such as climate change.
The proposal is part of the EU's Energy 2020 plan, which promotes cutting consumption, increasing energy efficiency, securing supplies, preventing shortages and supporting economic growth.
Measures to secure supplies would include:
Working with partner countries
Increased market transparency and more sustainable energy policies will stimulate investment and make markets less vulnerable to supply shocks. This should help avoid disruptions like those that affected Eastern Europe in 2009.
Among the priorities for the EU are an agreement with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline and a new partnership on renewable energy projects with the Southern Mediterranean countries.
The approach would also include a greater emphasis on improving access to sustainable energy for delevoping countries.
The strategy will be implemented over the next few years, with EU countries expected to start using the new information exchange system on energy agreements in 2012.