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Jacek Saryusz-Wolski: Wishful Thinking Will Not Make European Energy Affordable

Jacek Saryusz-Wolski MEP, EurActiv

As long as the European Union is unilaterally pursuing climate goals while other global actors are not following suit, it will suffer consequences in terms of competitiveness, writes Jacek Saryusz-Wolski. 

Jacek Saryusz-Wolski is a Polish MEP and vice-president of the European People’s Party (EPP)

“Security, sustainability and competitiveness – this trinity determines the goals of European energy policy. There is, however, internal inconsistency within their implementation. In times of crisis in particular, the so far lopsided approach can be particularly costly in terms of growth and jobs. It can also lead to weakening of European external policy, especially in the East.

European Union defines energy security as a state where energy demand is provided for with indigenous or external resources and strategic reserves at “economically viable prices, using diversified, stable and accessible energy sources”.

Energy policy should then ensure the security of supply of energy which is sustainable, that is without an overly adverse impact on the environment, at competitive, that is acceptable to citizens and industry, prices which allow to compete within the global economy.

These three goals are, however, inconsistent among each other, also due to the ever greater role of expensive renewables, which leads inevitably to ever higher energy prices. As long as the European Union is unilaterally pursuing the however just climate goals while other global actors are not following suit, it will suffer consequences in terms of competitiveness.

At the same time, the Union is not fully tapping the potential of an integrated energy market and common external energy policy. The potential for lowering prices through diversification of sources and supply routes and a cheaper energy mix including shale gas, is not realised. Furthermore, due to its both internal and external shortcomings, the European energy policy does little to alleviate the difficult situation of those countries of the European Union, like Lithuania or Poland, which are dependent on a single external supplier which forces them to pay excessive, monopolist prices for gas. In times of crisis this has particularly negative consequences causing lower economic growth and job loss throughout the Union.

So far, the goals of European climate and energy policy are reflected in the 20-20-20 strategy which assumes that by 2020 energy efficiency throughout the EU will go up by 20%, while at the same time renewables will make up for 20% of the energy mix and the CO2 emissions will be reduced by the same 20%. While these targets can be measured, implemented and executed, competitiveness of the European energy markets, i.e. the price level, remains little more than wishful thinking. This goal is not endowed with any execution mechanisms nor does it have a target, not even an indicative benchmark. Competitive and accessible energy is therefore a Union policy goal of purely declarative, and therefore wishful, nature.

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