18 Aug 2022, 14:15
Benjamin Wehrmann

Energy crisis must give rise to true European energy and climate policy – former EU commissioner

Der Tagesspiegel

The European energy crisis caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine has created the right environment for “finally and forcefully implementing a Europeanisation of energy and climate policy,” Günther Oettinger, former EU commissioner for energy from Germany’s conservative opposition party Christian Democrats (CDU), said in a guest article for newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. National interests have so far prevented a true move towards a joint energy and climate policy, Oettinger said. “This is also true for Germany’s energy transition.” If Germany wanted solidarity from other states, it should first be ready to make compromises itself, he argued. Key energy policy decisions would have to be made at EU level and no longer within individual member states – with the exception of nuclear power, which would remain a national competence. “Everything else is unrealistic,“ the former energy commissioner argued. With its 27 member states, the EU would have much more clout on energy markets than national governments, for example on the increasingly competitive market for liquefied natural gas (LNG). “That’s neither a planned economy nor an intervention in the free market,” as the EU would only act as a mediator for private companies. Moreover, gas pipelines across the continent should be expanded and gaps between Spain and Portugal on the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe closed.

Germany's chancellor Olaf Scholz earlier this year had called mutual assistance in the current energy supply crisis "an imperative of European solidarity" and that EU states must help out each other in securing energy system stability. EU regulation stipulates that countries must enter into bilateral assistance agreements for gas deliveries but many remain behind schedule in doing so. Germany's energy policy has come under fire since the onset of Russia's invasion, in particular regarding the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia. On the other hand, the country is currently using parts of its own gas reserves to assist France with energy supplies, as the neighbouring country struggles to cover its power demand with its own nuclear plant fleet. 

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