Juncker’s EC: Energy union for Slovakia’s Maros Sefcovic. What should be his priority?

Read few comments.

Agata Loskot-StrachotaEnergy Policy Research Fellow, Centre for Eastern Studies 

It is great news that Maros Sefcovic is expected to take over the energy union portfolio. It is IMO very important that it will be taken by someone from CEE and especially by representative of Slovakia. I guess it enables him to understand well the current and longer terms challenges on the EU energy market and in relations with third countries that the EU is facing. I think there are several issues to remember.

First is that the realization of the task to create a European energy union (or a common EU energy policy) should be started immediately. Slovak Commissioner for Energy Union would know exactly what that means as Slovakia is right now experiencing problems with Russian gas supplies (recently 50% lower supplies then SPP orders) which is connected with both Ukrainian-Russian gas problems and EU policy toward it. And so Slovakia is one of the countries in need for a common and effective EU answer  to such problems appearing right now and in the future. One of the key areas should be pushing for completion of the internal market. But then it should be done in a way acknowledging the differences within the EU when it comes to energy and gas markets. One of them, certainly known very well by Slovakia, is that there is no single gas market within the EU. It has been shown quite well by the present challenges to the security of gas supply: we see that they are not equally distributed and that some countries, mostly CEE countries, are in different position than those eg of North-West Europe. This is connected not only to geography and historical ties but also to – despite all the progress that has been made in recent years – lower degree of integration within the region and with the EU, lower degree of diversification, systemic problems with enhancing that diversification (of both routes and sources), lower degree of liberalisation etc. It only shows that while pursuing the same objective the EU policy may need to offer possibility of following different paths / using different tools by different MS due to their highly differing starting points, different models of economic development (and so different role of different energy sources within it), different vulnerabilities and strengths etc. And such diverse, toolbox enabling choices tailored to different situations in different groups/regions (CEE vs NEW being one of the most obvious examples) seems needed when it comes to different areas where EU wants to an energy union to work: completion of internal market and different paths of regional integration but also when it comes to security of supply measures, competitiveness or environmental goals.

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