SCHNEIDER André et TOURTELIER Philippe, Rapport d’information, n° 1655, commission chargée des affaires européennes de l’Assemblée nationale, XIIIème législature, mai 2009, 145 p.

Énergie : Quelle stratégie pour l’Union européenne?

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French parliamentarians are particularly attentive to developments in the national and European energy sector. This mobilisation reflects an awareness of the political and economic stakes involved in energy independence and security. The report presented by Mr André Schneider and Mr Philippe Tourtelier is part of this general issue and deals with the "Second Strategic Energy Review" of the European Union drawn up by the European Commission - at the request of the European Council of March 2007 - in a communication of 13 November 2008. This strategy was approved by the Heads of State and Government at the European Council on 19 and 20 March 2009 and is to serve as the basis for an energy action plan for the post-2010 period. The Commission proposes to launch a comprehensive "European Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan". The authors of the report underline the merit of this plan, which brings together in a single document the EU’s lines of action towards a single ultimate objective: energy security.

The information report is structured in three parts. In the first two parts a distinction is made between actions that fall under the "external" aspect of energy security through diversification of sources and supply routes, on the one hand, and actions that contribute to energy security within the borders of the European Union through the use of all the energy resources available to the organisation on its territory and through improved energy efficiency, on the other. These two aspects are in fact inseparable. Finally, the third part raises the problem of financing the investments essential to the implementation of the "second strategic analysis", pointing out the inadequacies of the European Commission’s communication on this point.

More specifically, the first part focuses on the complex situation of the current energy situation in the European Union, characterised by energy dependence and considerable disparities between Member States. The authors then return to the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis, which, in their view, revealed the extent of European vulnerabilities and the urgent need to organise interdependence with supplier (Russia) and transit (Ukraine) countries, the need for legal stability, the renovation of the Ukrainian transit network, the diversification of sources and routes, the strengthening of solidarity and transparency. After a brief review of previous crises involving Russia and Ukraine, the authors trace the course of the crisis in late 2008-early 2009, summarise the terms of the agreement reached on 18-19 January 2009 and point out the resulting uncertainties and weaknesses. They note that the suspension of deliveries remains possible; that in view of the particularly deteriorated economic situation in Ukraine, there is a risk of default on the part of the company Naftogaz; that the issue of "technical gas" remains a potential point of contention for 2010 and beyond; and that no formal settlement has been reached on the issue of payment arrears. In addition to these risks related to the agreement itself, the authors underline the concerns expressed by Russia about Ukraine’s possible accession to the European Energy Community, which is currently under negotiation. While the gas crisis has highlighted the weaknesses of the European Union as a whole, the authors point out that, at the same time, solidarity initiatives have been taken by gas companies and decisions of Member States. They note with satisfaction the ability of the European Union to speak with one voice during this crisis. The report also asks what lessons the European Union should learn from this crisis. In the short term, the authors recommend that the EU should take part in the modernisation of the Ukrainian network, define the terms of its new partnership with Russia, and improve its own mechanisms for managing supply crises, i.e. improve interconnections, enable gas flows to be reversed, adopt a more transparent and efficient storage policy and strengthen liquefied natural gas (LNG) resources. The rapporteurs call on the national and Community authorities to implement these very short-term measures without delay. They stress that, despite the agreement reached at the end of January between Russia and Ukraine, a new crisis is still possible. This prospect remains worrying for the European Union as a whole, which does not currently have the instruments to guard against it. The report also recommends that, in the medium and long term, the European Union should, as of now, start to diversify its supply routes and sources. The report goes back over the very substantial projects in this direction: North Stream, South Stream and Nabucco, while highlighting their very uneven state of progress, and then presents the other possible gas supply routes, whether from the Middle East or Africa. Finally, it recommends the construction of a genuine external energy policy, using all the instruments at the disposal of the European Union, be it neighbourhood policy, development aid policy or trade policy.

The second part of the report looks at ways in which the European Union could increase its energy security within its borders. The authors propose a reinforced commitment and advocate making the energy efficiency target to which the European Union is committed binding. They then refer to the agreement reached between the Council and the European Parliament on the third energy market liberalisation package. The compromise renounces ownership unbundling in the electricity market while strengthening the guarantees of independence of transmission system operators under the so-called ITO (Independent Transmission Operator) option, in terms of investment and governance. The compromise also strengthens consumer rights (e.g. with the possibility of changing energy suppliers within a maximum of three weeks), tackles energy poverty and makes the deployment of "smart" meters, distinguishing between peak and off-peak hours, compulsory.

The issue is not unrelated to the competition problems in the energy markets, which the third liberalisation package was precisely intended to correct. In the case of France, the European Commission considers that regulated tariffs can act as barriers to entry for new suppliers and as disincentives for switching suppliers, preventing the right price signals from being sent out to encourage investment and energy efficiency. It favours targeted price regulation to protect certain consumers under particular conditions.

Finally, the authors insist on the need for substantial development of interconnections at European level, a point which the "second strategic analysis" highlights. The report questions the place of electricity in Europe, stressing that the debate on this issue remains very sensitive in the European Union, but that the prospects for the development of nuclear power are important. It notes that several Member States have recently indicated their wish to have more or renewed recourse to nuclear power generation on their territory (Finland, Great Britain, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Poland, Sweden, Italy and France). This "revival" of civil nuclear power is a trend that can also be observed worldwide. The report mentions the European Commission’s proposal for a directive establishing a Community framework for nuclear safety, which aims to lay down fundamental obligations and general principles on the safety of nuclear installations, with states remaining free to apply stricter rules if they so wish. The report stresses, however, that the proposed mechanism is clearly insufficient: it is imperative that it be supplemented by strict rules on the management and transport of waste.

In addition, the report places particular emphasis on the importance of renewable energies, which should become a central element of Community action. Indeed, the European Commission’s Communication on the Second Strategic Review clearly emphasises the importance of the potential of renewable energy: "The development of renewable energies such as wind, solar, hydro, biomass and marine resources should be considered as the most important potential source of indigenous energy in the EU. The European Parliament, in its resolution on this Second Strategic Review, took an even more ambitious approach, calling on the Union and the Member States to increase the share of renewable energy to 60% by 2050. The report does not cover all existing forms of renewable energy, but mentions wind and solar energy, which the authors consider to be "two of the most promising avenues". The last line of action advocated by the "second strategic analysis" is consistent with the previous ambition. It is both a quantitative and qualitative approach to energy efficiency, consisting in consuming energy more efficiently in order to consume less energy. The authors see this as a challenge, with energy efficiency becoming a binding objective for the EU.

The third part of the report is devoted to the question of financing the investments required to carry out the second strategic analysis. The authors regret that this point was only very inadequately addressed in the European Commission’s Communication, which does not include a quantified estimate of the investments corresponding to each of the main lines of action it recommends, and refers to a later stage ("during the period 2009-2010") the identification of financial needs and potential sources of funding. The report notes that the contribution of the Community budget to the realisation of the European energy strategy, within the current multiannual financial framework, can only be limited in volume. For demonstration purposes, it reviews the traditional multiannual budgetary instruments: Trans-European Energy Networks (TEN-E), Structural Funds, European Research Policy. It then presents the most important part of the Community budget’s contribution to the European Economic Recovery Plan, presented on 26 November 2008: the energy "strand" which complements at Community level the various national recovery plans. According to the agreement reached at the European Council on 19 and 20 March, the Community budget will finance a total of €3.98 billion in energy projects over 2009 and 2010. The use of the 2008 margins is excluded. Following the European Council, negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament have led to a political agreement between the two arms of the Community budgetary authority on this energy component of the Recovery Plan. The compromise provides that if the €3.98 billion allocated to energy projects has not been fully spent by the end of 2010, the remaining funds can be used for other projects, in favour of energy efficiency and renewable energy. This agreement was approved in plenary session of the European Parliament on 6 May 2009 and now needs to be formally validated by the Council. In addition, the report rightly points out the key role played by the European Investment Bank in the European Union’s energy policy.

The report concludes with the discussions held in the Committee on European Affairs on the basis of this report. A source of information enriched by the annexed reproduction of the hearings of Mr Claude Mandil, former Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, on Europe’s energy security, and Mr Philippe de Ladoucette, Chairman of the Energy Regulatory Commission, on the internal energy market. Following consideration of the report in the Committee on European Affairs, a motion for a resolution No 1656 was referred to the Committee on Economic Affairs, which was responsible for its adoption. Point 9 of the motion for a resolution, drawn up on the basis of Article 88-4 of the Constitution, summarises the main message of the report as follows: the National Assembly "endorses the high priority that the European Commission gives in its strategic analysis to the development of electricity and gas interconnections in the European Union, and to adapting the European electricity grid to the integration of new producers of electricity from renewable sources".

This parliamentary report is both a political and pedagogical tool that reflects a certain evolution in French parliamentary practice in European affairs. A hard core of parliamentarians who are concretely fighting against the democratic deficit in European affairs by developing information and political monitoring of the construction of a Europe of energy. A strategic national and European issue.

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  • University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne


Beligh Nabli, Énergie : Quelle stratégie pour l’Union européenne?, September 2009, Concurrences N° 3-2009, Art. N° 27293, pp. 172-173

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