Page 14 - European Energy Innovation - Summer 2017 publication
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14  Summer 2017 European Energy Innovation


An Energy Union for

European citizens

The European Economic and Social Committee, one of the progenitors of the concept

By Pierre Jean Coulon (pictured), President of the Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the
Information Society (TEN) of the EESC

The Energy Union is one of                  issues, and addressed in a spirit of       • a focus on vulnerabilities and
            the European Commission’s       solidarity.                                    prospects for consumers; and
            top priorities, the strategy
            for which was launched in       Our work is based on the principle         • the need for civil society to be
March 2015. The EESC had already            that energy has now become a basic             involved in governance of the
issued an opinion in January 2012           necessity, without which there can be          Energy Union.
(I was the rapporteur) calling for the      no business and, indeed, no decent
establishment of a European Energy          life at all (including health, education,  THE CONCEPT OF THE ENERGY
Community – an idea close to                training, trade and industry, and access   UNION
Jacques Delors’ heart – and for civil       to other needs such as water and           In its opinions, the EESC has:
society to be involved in this              telecoms). Energy costs and prices,
process. The Energy Union has many          and security of supply, thus directly      • underlined the need for an Energy
similarities with this initial concept for  affect people’s well-being and the             Union in light of the challenges
an Energy Community, in particular          competitiveness of businesses large            facing Europe’s economies, not least
the idea that energy challenges need to     and small.                                     their heavy dependence on external
be treated as interconnected                                                               energy supplies (still nearly 60%);
                                            This is why the EESC has been closely
                                            involved in the process of developing      • highlighted the overall importance
                                            the Energy Union. The Committee                of the Energy Union for Europe’s
                                            has published 23 opinions directly             political project, presenting the free
                                            related to this initiative, and it is not      movement of energy as the fifth EU
                                            done yet. Its opinions have addressed          freedom; and
                                            both general aspects such as the
                                            establishment of the Energy Union, and     • stressed the importance of political
                                            more sector-specific aspects.                  will and vision, shared by the
                                                                                           institutions and by the Member
                                            Discussions between the EESC                   States, in achieving Energy Union.
                                            members themselves, and with their
                                            counterparts in the Member States,         While the EESC takes a positive view
                                            experts, all stakeholders and the other    of the concept, there are a number of
                                            European institutions, have revolved       aspects that in my opinion merit further
                                            around five main themes:                   attention by the European institutions
                                                                                       and Member States.
                                            • civil society’s broadly positive
                                                response to the general idea of the    ENERGY MARKET DISTORTIONS
                                                Energy Union;                          AND PRICES
                                                                                       The proper functioning of the energy
                                            • concerns about prices and market         market – particularly the electricity
                                                distortions;                           market – is a key challenge. Prices
                                                                                       are set almost solely by the market
                                            • the importance of acknowledging          (or markets?). And prices shape
                                                the social and societal dimension of   the behaviour of households and
                                                energy transition;                     businesses, as well as of investors.

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