"EESC Energy Days" - Civil society should be more closely involved in the EU energy-policy debate

Social fairness and civil society participation must be at the heart of energy talks at all levels, from the local to the European. The EESC Energy Days, held in Brussels on 7 and 8 March 2018, discussed the state of play and future developments in EU energy policy.

The first day of the conference focused on the Energy Union, taking stock of the progress made in achieving its goals and assessing the challenges still faced. Participants discussed how citizens could get involved and benefit from the Energy Union, and explored opportunities to improve individuals' and civil society's economic and political ownership of it.

"This union that we are calling for cannot be achieved without the active involvement of organised civil society, whose role in the process must be specified and made permanent," said Pierre Jean Coulon, president of the EESC's Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN).

The EESC opinion on the third report on the State of the Energy Union is currently being drafted by Toni Vidan and Christophe Quarez, and is due to be adopted at the April plenary session.

The second day looked at the forthcoming changes to the current Gas Directive, which are raising concerns among stakeholders.

In its proposal, the European Commission maintains that gas pipelines from and to third countries should comply with the core principles of existing EU legislation. However, some civil society organisations highlight the uncertainty that this new text would create in legal, commercial and environmental terms.

EESC member Baiba Miltoviča stressed how important it was to better coordinate the rules relating to external suppliers and achieve a single regulatory framework so that energy was supplied according to the same rules everywhere.

Ms Miltoviča will coordinate all contributions from the event, which will feed into the EESC opinion on Amending the Internal Gas Market Directive, also to be adopted at the April plenary session. (mp)