In the past, Europe gained its energy supplies from costly and polluting resources, often imported from abroad. This model has become unsustainable in the long-term. Climate change is pushing society to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; companies, industries and citizens are more and more vulnerable to price fluctuations; and overall Europe’s energy self-sufficiency is at risk while, at the same time, demand continues to grow.
The EESC works hard to monitor European energy policies in light of the problems concerning civil society. What are our aims?
To address openly the social and employment issues linked to the production and use of energy resources;
To respond to the concerns of European industry raised by the EU emission trading system in terms of competitiveness, while making it more efficient;
To defend consumers’ interests regarding price, choice and services;
To ensure that citizens are involved in designing a stronger EU energy policy, fit for the future.
Diversifying the mix of energy sources
The range of available energy sources has increased considerably in recent years. The choice of investing in one option or another cannot be made lightly or in isolation.
To enable Member States to reach the EU’s energy and climate targets, we support better coordination in decision-making, whilst respecting national competence.
In the energy transition process, we emphasise the need to put in place a policy framework which is both motivating and optimised, in particular to exploit the potential of renewable energies in promoting the EU’s global competitiveness, the security of supply and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, we do not ignore the role that can be played in ensuring the transition to low-carbon technologies such as clean coal, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear energy.
European Nuclear Energy Forum (ENEF)
Since the Fukushima disaster, debate on the safety of nuclear reactors has intensified in Europe. Some Member States immediately announced their intention to pull out of nuclear power, while others signalled concern about the future of the sector. Within the European Nuclear Energy Forum (ENEF), the EESC plays an active role in aiming to generate a transparent, open and structured debate. Besides the main risks and opportunities linked to nuclear energy in the EU, members of the ENEF evoke questions of transparency.
‘More Europe’ in energy policy
Proposed by Jacques Delors and the think-tank Notre Europe - Jacques Delors Institute, the European Energy Community (EEC) is aiming for a Europe-wide approach to energy policy, by pooling resources. It backs joint policy-making and coordinated implementation, achieving better governance while at the same time guaranteeing active public participation.
The EESC welcomes and supports this approach. We are convinced its implementation will be synonymous with greater efficiency, lower costs, a higher international profile for the EU, and above all, real value for European citizens.
European Energy Dialogue (EED)
At the initiative of Richard Adams the EESC has devised an ambitious plan to facilitate public participation in the energy policy field, in the form of a European Energy Dialogue. This plan is meant to enable all stakeholders to understand energy challenges and the related trade-offs, take individual action and contribute to energy policy choices whilst taking account of the bigger picture of pan-EU challenges and possible solutions.
The underlying realisation is that a robust EU energy policy, especially the transition to a low-carbon energy system, requires the understanding, support and active participation of European citizens, as much will depend on them and the choices ahead need to be endorsed by the people. It is therefore essential to involve people at different governance levels while encouraging a consistent common energy policy. The EESC supports the organisation of continuous interactions in the member states and in this spirit it contributed to the French national debate on the energy transition with a high-level conference co-organised with Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute. A joint declaration was then signed by EESC President Henri Malosse and Jacques Delors and forwarded to the EU institutions.
The EESC's position in favour of stronger citizen participation in energy issues is being increasingly acknowledged among policy-makers and stakeholders. The PSG EEC is currently working at implementing in cooperation with EU and national policy-makers and stakeholders the different forms that the EED could take.