Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oettinger Wants United Energy Policy

Representatives of the European Union have issued a call for better coordination among its members on energy. Following a one day meeting in Brussels on February 4, the representatives issued a joint statement calling for coherence in "relations with key producer, transit and consumer countries." The New York Times reports that European energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger (left) is expected to present a formal proposal in June that would give the European Commission the power to negotiate with energy producers on behalf of EU members.

Centralization of European energy policy is something that the United Kingdom has been trying to achieve for at least two years. In a Wikileak/State Department cable dated 26 January 2009, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Deputy Head of Energy and Climate Change, Thom Reilly, said that Russia was trying to divide the European Union by lobbying individual members--especially those countries that are reliant on Gazprom for energy needs. Reilly said that the EU had become very concerned about Russia as a dependable energy provider after the 2009 Ukraine-Russia energy crisis. Despite the fact that Gazprom has a monopoly control over the gas pipelines in Russia, Reilly said the EU did not have the appetite to use European anti competitive measures to force Gazprom to become more market friendly. "Conditions are not right" to take the fight directly to Russia, said Reilly.

While a unified European position would help the consumer countries negotiate with energy providers, member states' suspicions of giving Brussels more authority may doom this proposal before it is even launched.

Dr. James J. Coyle is available to speak to your organization or at your event. Please contact him at