Oettinger: Coordinate EU infrastructure at EU-level or lose out to China and the US

» By | Published 15 Feb 2012

http://douggeivett.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/Tempers seem to have frayed at yesterday’s EU Energy Council over the European Commission’s proposals for an EU-wide energy infrastructure package, the European Voice has reported.  Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for energy, was “visibly frustrated” at the meeting of ministers after many of them said they could not accept transferring authority for energy infrastructure from regions to EU level, the website said.

The news comes as Energy Ministers across Europe were presented with a statement – supported by EWEA, Eurelectric, Europacable and 35 other organisations – calling for an internal EU market for energy and grid extensions and upgrades in order to boost security of supply, achieve our climate goals and bring more renewables online.

Oettinger reportedly said after the Energy Council that if energy infrastructure is not co-ordinated at EU level it will be like returning to “19th-century principality mentality. We’re simply going to be losing out to China and the US in terms of speed and progress,” he said.

Reuters reported that the recent cold weather snap took Europe to the brink of power outages. Building transmission lines that interconnect European countries could help energy travel to where it is most needed reducing the risk of energy crises. “I am pleading with you that we should get together as a team,” Oettinger said to Energy Ministers, Reuters reported. Europolitics said that EU member states are arguing for a “pivotal role” in selecting the cross-border infrastructure projects that would be eligible for funding under the Commission’s infrastructure proposals.

Ministers also reportedly complained about the Commission’s plans to shorten grid permitting procedures which, in some cases, have taken up to 15 years to receive full planning permission jeopardising security of supply. The Commission would like to see the delays limited to three years.

At the close of the meeting, Oettinger said: “Please pass it on to your governments and parliaments: either we do it on a European level, or we do not do it at all.” With both Oettinger’s warning and the statement echoing in their minds, EU Energy Ministers should take note.

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Categories: Electricity grids