Energy ‘islands’ attacked

  • 2011-02-09
  • By Ella Karapetyan

TALLINN - On February 4, the European Council meeting in Brussels agreed on a number of measures for helping stimulate economic growth and job creation and improving European competitiveness.
One of the primary topics on the agenda was energy security. The European Council agreed that the energy security of the European Union requires the complete and rapid development of an integrated internal market.

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, who represented Estonia at the summit, expressed satisfaction that, in discussing energy security, the heads of government emphasized the need for fair competition conditions. He pointed to the conclusions of the meeting, which require the drafting of measures in the framework of the Europe 2020 energy strategy necessary for ensuring equal opportunity between European Union energy producers and those from outside the EEC. “For Estonia, ensuring equal competition conditions is a question of energy security,” said Ansip. “This will prevent the import of large volumes of electricity that do not conform to the European Union’s environment and safety standards.”

Ansip said that electricity producers from outside the European Union currently hold advantages today and said this is why investors were less interested in establishing production capacity within the EU. This can only jeopardize the reliability of the supply of electricity.

In the context of the internal market, the European Council discussed development and financing of energy infrastructure. Even though the heads of governments shared the position that the market should bear the majority of the costs of financing investments, some projects needed public sector support as well. “Estonia supports the use of the European Union budget above all for cross-border connections that will strengthen the internal market for energy,” said Ansip.

“Isolated energy ‘islands’ must be integrated as rapidly as possible, and the 2015 deadline proposed is suitable. At the same time, investments must continue after this objective is achieved as well,” added the prime minister.
It was also noted at the meeting that in the interest of energy security, it was also important to use domestic resources in the future.

At the meeting a thorough discussion was also devoted to the possibilities for putting innovation to use for the good of European Union citizens. The heads of government stressed that investment into education, research, technology and innovation was a key factor that would promote economic growth and job creation. Ansip noted that above all, innovation would require a stable economic environment, judicious budgetary policy and development of freedoms of enterprise. “A functioning common digital market, which is our priority, requires innovative enterprises and educated people,” said Ansip.

The summit also discussed salient economic and finance policy issues in the European Union and further steps to ease the impact of the debt crisis. The heads of government agreed on steps to be taken before the March meeting of the European Council, at which point they would adopt a comprehensive package of measures.

In addition, the heads of state and government of the eurozone discussed how to achieve a better approach by the eurozone countries in areas that directly impact competitiveness. Ansip said this was an important process for Estonia that should ensure the strengthening of the eurozone.