European summit on energy brings inconclusive results for a common approach

Brussels, 22 May – Today’s European Summit on energy and competitiveness divided EU leaders between those who wished to embrace short-term ‘silver bullet’ solutions to Europe’s energy future, such as fracking for shale gas, and those who aimed for long-term reform for sustainable energy markets.

Brussels, 22 May – Today’s European Summit on energy and competitiveness divided EU leaders between those who wished to embrace short-term ‘silver bullet’ solutions to Europe’s energy future, such as fracking for shale gas, and those who aimed for long-term reform for sustainable energy markets.

The aim of the summit was to find ways to boost Europe’s competitiveness by lowering energy prices. The conclusions of the summit suggest, however, that no major changes to energy policy will be made, stating simply that, “the EU’s energy policy must ensure security of supply for households and companies at affordable and competitive prices and costs, in a safe and sustainable manner.”

As a concession though, the conclusions also state that there should be further development of ‘indigenous energy resources’, meaning both renewable energies, and on- and off-shore gas sources. Britain, Poland, Romania and Lithuania were the major supporters of shale gas exploration, with British Prime Minister David Cameron pointing out the positive impact that shale gas has had on economic growth in the USA. Council President Herman Van Rompuy noted after the summit that the EU should not stand in the way of shale gas becoming part of the energy mix for some member states.

Although shale gas has taken a step further towards acceptance, EU leaders also welcomed the Commission’s Green Paper on a 2030 framework for climate and energy policies, which discusses the possibility of 2030 energy targets akin to the current 20/20/20 targets.

Other conclusions from the summit are on long running policies such as completing the internal energy market (a project that was started ten years ago and has been repeated stalled by member states), investing in innovation and infrastructure, and committing to energy efficiency.

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