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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Honourable Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

My great thanks to the Government of Egypt for hosting this event. I am delighted to be in the beautiful Sharm El Sheikh today, to discuss with you the ways of tackling the global energy security and climate change challenges in our cooperation.

My colleague Benita Ferrero-Waldner has already presented the EU external energy activities emphasizing that there is a potential to expand them further on a bilateral and regional basis. In my presentation, I would like to focus on internal EU energy market developments.

The EU energy market, rich of almost 500 million consumers, is the largest integrated energy market in the world. Cooperation in the energy sector in the post-war Europe has been at the origin of the overall EU integration process.

As already mentioned by previous speakers, rapid changes in the world in terms of climate change and energy security require a new policy response. This is the point of departure for the integrated energy and climate policy, which the EU agreed on political level in spring this year and I would like to briefly elaborate on its key details.

Europe’s emerging energy policy aims at developing a number of measures to achieve the three objectives of sustainability, competitiveness and security of supply. The internal energy market is central to all three.

In September of this year, the Commission has published the third liberalisation package: a truly ambitious series of measures that aim to address current failings of the market. The three main areas of our proposal are the following:

• firstly, requiring the ownership unbundling of transmission from supply and generation activities or the transfer of the assets to an independently run transmission operator;

• secondly, creating of a European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators and

• thirdly, harmonising the powers and the level of independence of national energy regulators on the basis of the highest common denominator presently existing in the EU.

It is obvious that all companies have to play by the same rules, irrespective of where they come from. This is the reason why the proposals tabled by the Commission also contain certain provisions that seek to make sure that this is the case regarding non-EU companies. I look forward to working with my counterparts, in the context of our various cooperation frameworks, to ensure that these provisions fulfil this purpose, and at the same time ensure that foreign companies can and do play a fair and active role in the EU’s markets.

The second area of measures is related to energy efficiency, which is the most challenging but also the most rewarding of all the energy policy aspects. The goal set is to have 20% savings in our energy consumption by 2020. From next year onwards, the European Commission will start rolling out a whole series of initiatives on energy efficiency; from minimum product standards, to better labelling, to improved building standards, to more efficient transport systems in Europe’s cities. The potential here is huge, not just in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but equally in improving the competitiveness. For the same reasons and taking into account EU’s advanced position for regulatory approach and technologies in this area, energy efficiency and savings are also high on the agenda in the EU energy cooperation with all partners present here today.

Early next year, the Commission will table a revision of the Emissions Trading Scheme, taking it beyond 2012 and evolving it so that it is fit to provide the 20% greenhouse gas cuts for which the EU leaders have committed themselves by 2020. It will also table binding national targets for emissions in sectors not covered by the emissions trading scheme. And it will continue – double – its efforts to reach a global agreement on climate change.

At the same time, we will come forward with a new “umbrella renewables legislation”. It will ensure that we meet the 20% share of the EU’s energy mix from renewable sources by 2020 from the current 8,5%. The legislation will include binding national targets, including the 10% of biofuels share in the transport fuel consumption.

In 3 weeks’ time, the Commission will launch a European Strategic Energy Technology Initiative. Like all industrial revolutions, success in combating climate change will be technology driven. This means (i) a new generation of energy efficient equipment, (ii) carbon sequestration technologies and (iii) new materials that bring down the cost of wind and photovoltaic, to name but a few. The introduction of CO2 capture and storage, establishment of a favourable regulatory framework for its development and leading an international action in the area is another key priority.

At present, nuclear electricity represents around 30% of EU electricity and it raises important issues regarding waste and decommissioning. Whereas the decision to rely or not on nuclear energy belongs to each EU Member State, at EU level, the role should be to develop further the most advanced framework for nuclear energy in those Member States that choose to rely on it. This should include nuclear waste management and decommissioning. This was the objective of discussions launched in the High Level Group on Safety and Waste Management 2 weeks ago. The EU will also continue its efforts to ensure that such high standards are observed internationally.

Finally, I would like to say a few words about the external dimension of the EU energy policy with regard to the Middle East and Africa, and to come back to what my colleague Benita Ferrero – Waldner said at the opening session.

The main pillars of the EU’s external energy policy are diversification, security and interdependence. Our objective is to build a relationship with external partners based on mutual benefits. With this approach in mind, we are gradually developing a new form of energy dialogues and partnerships.

We are progressing in the gradual convergence of our energy policies and regulatory frameworks with the Mediterranean partner countries towards the long term goal of creating a fully interconnected and common Euro-Mediterranean energy market. We also welcome the involvement of Sub-Sahara countries and resources in this market integration process.

In North Africa, we are deepening our relations not only at regional and sub-regional levels, but also progressing at bilateral level. Turning now to Africa as a continent, at the Lisbon EU-Africa Summit in early December, we shall be launching a new strategic energy partnership. Energy security and related challenges have moved into the mainstream of development policy. Our attention will focus on strengthening the EU-Africa dialogue on access to energy and energy security. It is not acceptable that in Africa still 1.5 to 2 billion people have no access to energy services. This partnership will also help to scale up investment in energy infrastructure – estimated at € 8.3 billion for extending electricity to all citizens in Sub-Sahara Africa until 2030. It will further improve management of energy resources and in particular the development-oriented use of oil and gas revenues.

Finally, it will strive to promote transparency and enabling regulatory frameworks favourable for attracting investment, as well as to mainstream climate change. This partnership will be a two-way process between equal partners, in which a genuine win-win situation can be achieved as we share common challenges and complementary interests.

We are also stepping up our efforts to strengthen energy relations with the Middle East countries. Our experience has been extremely positive with OPEC, as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council, with established fruitful dialogues and regular collaboration on subjects as diverse as technology, climate change and financial markets.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The energy challenges of today are global and cannot be resolved by the EU on its own. In the EU we have a common energy strategy, which recognises the interdependence of Member States, and the interdependence of the EU and other parts of the world. And we are striving to build up a broad international coalition, and are prepared to tackle the energy challenges in a spirit of cooperation, mutual respect and harmony.

The goals of our EU-Africa-Middle East energy collaboration are clear: greater predictability in supply and demand and recognition of mutual interests among suppliers and consumers, greater stability for investors, commitment to good governance, as well as access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy to all consumers.

The issues for this conference are thus highly relevant and I am convinced that we will have a mutually rewarding and useful exchange of views on these matters.

Thank you for your attention.


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