The common EU energy market: not only a competitive European economy but also consumer-friendly prices

20 September 2013, Last updated at, 14:26 EEST
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On 19-20 September at the informal meeting of EU energy Ministers in Vilnius views were exchanged on the actions and measures necessary for the timely completion of the EU internal energy market and the strengthening of European unity in the negotiations with external energy partners. These questions are essential in order to increase EU competitiveness.

"After the creation of a competitive, transparent and integrated energy market, both private and industrial consumers will enjoy fair competition and the benefits of lower energy prices," said Jaroslav Neverovič, the Lithuanian Energy Minister who chaired the meeting and expressed his opinion in the discussion session that focused on the EU internal energy market.

Heads of the European Union states in as early as 2011 agreed that the total internal energy market must be formed by 2014. At the informal meeting of Ministers, they expressed their determination to make every effort to ensure that the market is formed on time, and made concrete proposals in regards to the measures to be taken for better and faster progress. 

According to Mr. Neverovič, in order to have this formation of the EU internal energy market completed, it is still necessary to overcome a number of challenges. Among them is the completion of the third EU energy package implementation in all Member States, development of the energy infrastructure integrating energy islands and the empowering of consumers in the retail markets.
Implementation of the Third Energy Package has already begun. The EU Member States once again committed to committing every effort in order to promptly complete the process. The Energy Minister pointed out that the demonopolising of the market and concrete steps in the consistent implementation of the mentioned tasks would ensure not only competition between suppliers but also lower prices for consumers.
Soon there will be new steps made in the search for faster energy infrastructure development. Namely, as soon as next month, the list of projects of common interest – the so-called Projects of Common Interest (PCI) – will be approved. These energy infrastructure projects will claim financing from the EU budget. This will ensure the implementation of these particular projects that would be unimaginable without EU funding as they are crucial for the securing of competition and supplies. In addition, these projects will have priority with respect to efficient permission issuing procedure, which will form the basis for faster project implementation than ever before.
The informal meeting also focused on the external dimension of the EU energy policy which is closely related to the EU internal energy market. The European Commission presented a report to the delegations which contained a review of progress since 2011 when the EU countries agreed on the concrete measures that strengthen the external dimension of energy policy. After the presentation of the report a discussion was held, and representatives of the EU Member States expressed their desire to more efficiently coordinate the EU external energy policy actions so as to reach basic solutions concerning the problem of high energy prices in the EU internal market.
“I believe that the challenges we are all facing in the external energy policy and the general objectives to be reached inside and outside the EU could become the basis for a strong common EU external energy policy. I have no doubt that by applying the same rules and whenever it is possible expressing the same opinion, we would develop a more stable and transparent relationship with our external partners,” commented Mr. Neverovič.
The Minister also stressed that efforts to ensure the same competitive conditions for both the EU energy producers and producers beyond the range of the European Economic Area would help to create fair mutual competition in the EU internal energy market.
Representatives of the EU Member States also expressed support for the extension of the Energy Community Treaty and its improvement. Mr. Neverovič summarised the discussions saying that the Energy Community had become a reference point for countries willing and able to join the EU regulatory framework, and act in accordance with these pro-competitive principles.
The participants also had the opportunity to hear a presentation on the outcome of the Commission's public consultation on the 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policy Strategy.
"We have to perceive the 2030 Framework not only as a challenge but as an opportunity to improve the former strategy and learn from the experience. In anticipating the most suitable way for low-carbon economy development, we will maintain and boost competitiveness," said the Minister of Energy of Lithuania.
Participants of the meeting provided insights and opinions that later will be reflected in progress reports by the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council which will be delivered to the Energy Council in their meeting in December. The results of the meeting will also be included in the Commission's forthcoming report on the EU internal energy market development progress.
Over the past years of economic downturn it was once again proven that the situation in the energy sector has a significant impact on the welfare of European citizens and the general competitiveness of the business sector. According to Mr. Neverovič, now is the time to fulfil the promises made to the people of Europe, promises that are primarily oriented to securing energy supplies at the lowest possible prices.
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