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Press Conference of Commissioner Christos Papoutsis on the White Paper on Energy Policy
 
 

 
Date: 1995-12-19
 

The Commissioner highlighted in his introductory remarks the main points of the White Paper "An Energy Policy for the European Union" saying that it is the first time the Commission adopts a White Paper on a this strategically important sector. The WP lays down the guidelines for a Community energy policy in the coming years, the three objectives of which are:

- promotion of the overall competitiviness;
- establishing security of the Union's energy supplies;
- ensuring environmental protection.


He said that the White Paper proposes an energy framework around these three strategic objectives towards which both Union and national energy policies should converge. These objectives can only be achieved if the Community pursues certain policy measures the first and most important of which is the efficient functioning of the internal energy market.

The Commission's first task is to liberalise the internal market for electricity and subsequently for natural gas taking ofcourse into account the diverse energy situations and market structures in each of the Member States. It also is essential that the provisions of the treaty relating to competition are fully applied with a maximum transparency.

Mr. Papoutsis emphasized that we cannot consider energy policy in isolation, which means that the external dimension should be taken into account. The analysis of the energy situation points to a growing dependency of the Union in the medium and long-term and the task in the future will be to ensure that security of supply in all its aspects is kept under review and strengthened by effective internal policy corrections to market rules, by fuel diversificationb and by developing close cooperation with the external suppliers.

He also said that in achieving energy objectives, research and development and technology will play a vital role and the White Paper suggests various ways in which the Union can focus more effectively on energy efficient technologies and conservation and renewable energies.

The Commission intends to establish an energy consultative Committee in which all Community initiatives related to energy can be debated in the framework of a close and cooperative dialogue between the Commission, the Member States and all the organisations closely associated with the formulation of energy policy.

The big majority of the questions concerned tomorrow's Energy Council and in particular the main point on the agenda, i.e. the liberalisation of the internal electricity market.

On this issue the Commissioner said he doesn't think that the Council could arrive tomorrow at a common position. The progress achieved until now "must guide our actions and we must build on it". He further said that the compromise proposed by the Spanish Presidency is the "best which we could have" and the Commission will continue to support the efforts made by all sides to arrive at a solution acceptable by all parties concerned. The two outstanding points are the definition of the eligible customers and in particular the inclusion of the distrtibutors and the issue of public service obligations.

Mr. Papoutsis, answering to another question said that France has shown the political will to achieve a compromise solution and that the Commission is not considering for the time being any other action than to support the efforts for a solution. It will continue to support these efforts until the moment it will realise that there is a "real deadlock", which is not the case now. The efforts will be continued during the Italian Presidency.

Asked whether the Commission is considering to use Article 90 par. 3 of the Treaty in case of a "substantial delay", the Commissioner answered that "in case of a real deadlock in the future, the Commission will consider different alternatives amongst which Article 90.3, but for the time being what matters is to continue the efforts to find a solution on this very important issue. It would be inappropriate for the Commission to abandon the negotiation process ignoring the views of Council and European Parliament as well as the political and social sensitivities in different Member States."

Answering to another question he said that the discussions on the liberalisation of the natural gas internal market will start after the completion of the discussions and the achievement of the common position concerning electricity.

As far as a new chapter on Energy in the Treaty is concerned, the Commissioner said that the White Paper highlights the limitations of the current Treaty's provisions but doesn't include any specific reference to a new Chapter. The Commission, as provided by the existing Treaty, will present early next year a report containing its ideas for the revision of the Treaty in the energy sector. Personally, he said, "I think that to have a more specific reference is a goal worth pursuing in the forthcoming IGC".

To another question on the White Paper he answered that security of supply is one of the three strategic objectives and the reason for which the difersification of energy sources, supply sources and suplly routes is necessary, is the need to be able to face any difficulties which may arise by political instrability in some of the supply countries. "Political instability is of major concern for us", but we are trying to help consolidate political, economic and social stability with increasing and reinforcing cooperation not only in energy but in other sectors aswell.


BIO/95/491


 

 

 
Ημ. Έκδοσης:19/12/1995 Share Εκτύπωση
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