Energy ministers of the Pentalateral Energy Forum met on 1 December in Brussels, together with the European Commissioner for energy Kadri Simson. This regional energy cooperation, consisting of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland, was created in 2005. Building on the previous success of developing a regional electricity market accounting for 40% of EU’s electricity production, the energy ministers now discussed measures to make sure the transition to clean energy remains secure and resilient.
Belgian energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten convened the ministerial meeting ahead of the European energy council. Traditionally, and this since more than 15 years, the presidency of the Benelux invites the countries in the heart of Europe’s energy system to informally discuss energy issues of shared concern. This year, the voluntary cooperation of ministers and expert groups paid special attention to the creation of a framework for regional coordination on risk preparedness.
Along the lines of the EU Risk Preparedness Regulation, the energy ministers agreed on a memorandum of understanding setting the minimum requirements of their future solidarity. In practice, this will lead to a common communication protocol in case of crises, the organisation of joint crisis exercises, an increased monitoring of the security of supply in the region, and the further analysis and establishment of regional measures such as support with equipment and coordinated communication to the public.
Commissioner Kadri Simson said:
It is the cornerstone of the work on solidarity in the electricity sector in this region, providing the umbrella under which all the necessary technical work will now develop. It also sends a strong political signal about translating the commitment into actions for the common interest and welfare of our citizens.
Belgian Minister Tinne Van der Straeten stated:
To slow down climate change, we are now speeding up the energy transition. But to make this transition to clean energy successful, we need to ensure it is secure and safe for citizens and the industry. In a strongly interconnected electricity system, this is a clear step forwards towards a more coordinated regional approach in a region where solidarity, transparency and coordination are already at the heart.
The Penta ministers further discussed possibilities to enhance and further align the national and European assessments of security of supply. They also took stock of the progress made towards a market for clean hydrogen, and agreed to enhance their cooperation on certification. Finally, some milestones were proposed for next year.
Patronaged by the energy ministers, and facilitated by the Benelux Secretariat, energy officials from the 7 countries are now tasked to prepare a joint vision for a decarbonised energy system for the Penta region in 2050.
Ahead of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Benelux, Luxembourg energy minister Claude Turmes concluded:
Penta was a laboratory for regional market integration, today it proves to remain a frontrunner on security of supply, and we also share a long term carbon neutral future. My priority will be to help the Penta region to become the first regional renewable energy hub in Europe.
2 December 2021