European Union Flag (Photo credit: adamblang)
The case of the EU energy policy highlights what is fundamentally wrong with the EU. The EU energy policy is ineffective, dated, non-strategic, myopic, and buried in bureaucracy.
The US has enormous shale gas resources and is approaching energy neutrality, causing a shift in geopolitical priorities. Russia has massive energy reserves and is using energy policy to influence her geopolitical priorities. China is the biggest consumer of energy and now looking at imaginative options to secure future energy. For example, China is looking to invest in Cyprus’ potentially enormous offshore natural gas industry and possibly might be interested in Israel’s reserves as well. Energy is once again critical to geopolitical priorities.
Also this week, we have seen the Chinese Premier forming strategic relations with Greece, a pivotal country in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, EU energy policy is buried in the past. The nearest to an effective policy is a green paper dated 2006 and predating the financial crisis and the subsequent massive damage done by excessive austerity. According to Wikipedia, here are the fundamentals of the EU’s 2006 green paper:
- A cut of at least 20% in greenhouse gas emissions from all primary energy sources by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels), while pushing for an international agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol aimed at achieving a 30% cut by all developed nations by 2020.
- A cut of up to 95% in carbon emissions from primary energy sources by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.
- A minimum target of 10% for the use of biofuels by 2020.
- That the energy supply and generation activities of energy companies should be ‘unbundled’ from their distribution networks to further increase market competition.
- Improving energy relations with the EU’s neighbours, including Russia.
- The development of a European Strategic Energy Technology Plan to develop technologies in areas including renewable energy, energy conservation, low-energy buildings, fourth generation nuclear reactor, clean coal and carbon capture.
- Developing an Africa-Europe Energy partnership, to help Africa ‘leap-frog’ to low-carbon technologies and to help develop the continent as a sustainable energy supplier.
It’s quite quaint really but also potentially toxic. This is an example of the muddled economic thinking that is coming from the EU – it’s the same bureaucrats who have been pushing excessive austerity on Southern Europe, despite the evidence of most respected economists.
Of course, the reality is that the EU does not have an effective policy. Energy policies are determined by sovereign governments pandering to national interests, with the strongest able to deploy bullying tactics.
As an expert in strategy and change management, it obvious to me that the EU desperately needs an effective strategy for energy to radically improve EU competitiveness, and redress the staggering high EU youth unemployment, especially in Southern Europe. The context is deteriorating quickly. We are witnessing a push towards right wing extremism, as well as a rise in radical Islam.
Meanwhile, the EU seems to be blind to the vast energy resources available in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially offshore Cyprus. Surely, it would be strategic for the EU to invest Cyprus’ offshore gas and oil to secure supply? Perhaps, China is more strategically focused and the EU essentially dysfunctional?
Is it not time to petition Europe’s politicians and the mainstream media that an effective energy policy in Europe is a game-changer?