For the EESC the EU's energy policy should be about finding the best solutions to common challenges in a spirit of solidarity and efficieny. Tackling some problems encountered by energy users requires action at EU level. Energy poverty for example may be addressed at Member State level through social policy measures but an efficient and cost-effective EU-wide market design can also contribute to keeping prices in check. Closer coordination and solidarity between Member States may be promoted through different policy instruments, including cooperation mechanisms for energy generation or for support to some energy technologies. This will facilitate the transition to a low-carbon energy system in a cost-effective and integrated way. Each Member State has its strengths and weaknesses in terms of energy strategy and resources and the EESC believes that coordinating them within an EU-wide energy policy will add value for all energy users.
The integration of energy grids and markets in the EU and the completion of the internal energy market (target date: end of 2014) are essential steps to devise and implement a functional common energy policy that is geared to energy users.
The EU and national energy policy objectives require strong grids and functioning markets. However fragmentation is still a severe barrier. Substantial progress has been made but more should be done to allow for the optimal and cost-efficient design of energy grids and markets. This involves both technical issues (integration of intermittent renewable energy sources, flexibility and generation adequacy, infrastructure and cross border interconnectors etc.) and policy issues (ensuring the link between wholesale and retail prices, providing appropriate support to new technologies, optimising energy costs etc.).