ENEDIS : Towards a European Energy Shield


By Michel Derdevet, Secretary General at Enedis and Professor at Sciences Po Paris and the College of Europe in Bruges

Summer 2019

The energy transition is not just about CO2 released into the atmosphere. The fight against global warming must be accompanied by a social support that is worthy of the name. This is a crucial continental challenge for which Europe itself is the only relevant area, as Member States cannot resolve it individually

Between 1990 and today, Europe's dependence on energy imports has risen from 44.2% of its gross energy consumption to 53.6%. With a price per barrel fluctuating between US$52 and US$84 last year, the European Union spends more than €300 billion per year on its supply of CO2-emitting fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas), which it does not have (or has very little of) in its subsoil. Oil and gas are currently used by a large majority of the 500 million Europeans as fuel for travelling and heating.

Reducing these massive historical energy imports comes under the broad objective of achieving energy independence and sovereignty, of fighting global warming, of reducing Europe's 'carbon footprint', and above all of protecting Europeans in a situation of energy poverty.

And yet, energy poverty remains a blind spot for the Energy Union. The establishment in January 2018 of the EU Energy Poverty Observatory has not, for the time being, given rise to a European definition of energy poverty. This in turn means that it is not possible to produce an exact inventory or to develop a joint action in this area.

European directives for opening up energy markets have not really made it possible to keep prices down. The creation of a European energy shield would be the most appropriate tool for a Europe that protects its citizens, according to their wishes.

This mechanism would require a common definition of energy poverty, as well as a European Energy Solidarity Fund, fuelled by a consistent "flagging" of European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) resources to support all the initiatives of those at the front line in the fight against energy poverty, including operators and local authorities. The shield goes hand in hand with a real carbon price established at Europe’s borders, which would complement the existing carbon market via its application to imported fossil fuels and to the carbon content of products imported by Europeans to avoid environmental dumping.

At a time when the United States is stepping back from the Paris Agreement and when China’s environmental initiatives have ulterior economic motives, an EU border carbon tax would finally restore the virtuous circle: a relocation of European industry that takes better account of the environment.

Much is at stake. Not least, preserving our planet and enabling European citizens to reconnect with the European project.

Contact information
Head of European Public Affairs
Email: djemila.boulasha@enedis.fr
Mob: +33 6 07 51 74 47
Web: www.enedis.fr