Europe is highly dependent on its energy resources. In order to increase the EU's energy security a genuine Energy Union is needed as well as major investments in infrastructure to provide full interconnectivity between Member States. Renewable energy remains an important part of the energy mix; however further development of renewables should take more account of the profitability of such projects, final energy price and its impact on jobs and R&D development. These are the main conclusions of the conference entitled "Securing essential imports for the EU – energy: new opportunities or new threats?" that took place on 14 November in Zagreb.
During its last meeting in October, the European Council decided on goals for EU Climate Policy, committing to a 40% reduction of greenhouse emissions and a 27% increase in energy efficiency and renewable energy by 2030. "The EU should be an example for other global players when it comes to climate goals but at the same time we cannot lose the battle for competitiveness," said Ivan Vrdoljak, the Croatian Minister for the Economy. He emphasised that the EU should be more united when it comes to energy issues. There is no more space for national plans; energy should be dealt with at the regional and EU level in order to provide sufficient energy security for all Member States. Further development of infrastructure and interconnectivity is crucial to achieve this goal. Increasing energy efficiency is also an effective way of improving energy security. Moreover, this creates significant opportunities for SMEs, which are successful in introducing new technologies.
"Energy has a huge impact on the labour market as it creates jobs. We should gear our educational system to the development of the energy market," said Mirando Mrsic, Croatian Minister for Labour and Pensions. He underlined that there was an increasing need for people skilled in new technologies in the field of renewables. Not only can this type of energy increase energy security, it can also contribute to economic growth and the creation of new jobs.
The President of the Employers' Group, Jacek Krawczyk, pointed out that the creation of a genuine Energy Union would strengthen the EU position in negotiations with the external partners it is dependent on when discussing energy resources. He emphasised the importance of keeping the EU's climate policy balanced in order to allow European industry to stay competitive.
Luka Burilovic, President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, suggested that the EU can benefit from looking for new sources of fossil fuels. In his opinion, new sources of oil in the Adriatic Sea can have an impact on the overall energy price and can reduce the EU's dependence on energy. According to Dragutin Ranogajec, President of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, Croatia is attempting to become an energy hub for the region. In order to achieve this goal, major investments in modernisation and development of infrastructure are needed. Energy is the key to competitiveness – concluded Davor Majetic, Director of the Croatian Employers' Association.
The conference was organised by the Employers' Group together with the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and the Croatian Employers' Organisation.