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Learn Europe / Subjects / Energy Policy

Energy Policy

Economy

Specific Objectives and Competences

  • To understand the priorities and objectives of the energy policy of the EU.
  • To understand the importance of the need to reduce the energy dependence of the EU

Contents

  • Energy policy forms part of the competences that are shared between the EU and its member states. In other words, both parties act as regulators and legislators.
  • Despite the advances that have taken place in the development of the single market, energy continues to be either a monopoly or, in some cases, an oligopoly in the majority of European countries, with many markets being dominated by public companies.
  • This is the case because the energy sector has traditionally been considered a key sector within European economies and one that is closely regulated by the state.
  • The price of energy has a major influence on productive processes in the different countries and plays an important role in determining the competitiveness of their companies.
  • It was not until the Treaty of Lisbon of 2009 that Europe was given the competences required to carry out a true energy policy. Before this, the action of the EU within the energy sector was limited to producing regulations covering the natural environment and competition.
  • The objectives of the EU’s energy policy are:
    • To establish a single European market for energy; this is planned for 2014.
    • To guarantee the security of basic energy supplies within the EU.
    • To promote energy efficiency and energy savings and also to develop new and renewable types of energy.
    • To foster the interconnection of energy networks.
  • The advantages of energy integration:
    • It offers greater efficiency due to a reduction of production costs (economies of scale).
    • It favours the creation of interconnections that favour competition.
    • Diversifying energy sources ensures greater security of supply.
  • Inconveniences:
    • An integrated policy could be seen to limit the national sovereignty of EU member states with respect to energy, as it would impose limitations on the use of certain energy sources, the development of infrastructures and the setting of prices.
  • The fight against climatic change is very closely linked to energy policy. In this regard, the EU has established a series of energy policy objectives that must be achieved by 2020:
    • Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to at least 20% below the levels of the 1990s.
    • Achieve energy consumption savings of at least 20% through improvements in energy efficiency.
    • At least 20% of the energy consumed must be from renewable sources.
      • In the case of transport, the objective is for 10% of the energy consumed to be from renewable sources.

Debates

Based on the text Energy security and climatic change: a new industrial revolution (es, en)

Could energy be a destabilising factor in Europe?

Should energy security be a priority for the EU?

Maps

  • >15 Gas pipelines that supply Europe. The map only shows the main gas pipelines that supply the EU from third-party countries. As can be seen from the map, the main areas of production are located in Russia, the Caucasus and the North of Africa. The map also includes projects that are currently underway.
  • >15 Dependency on energy imports into the EU, 2009. This map shows the different levels of energy dependency in the countries of the EU. Within the EU, only Denmark has managed to export more energy than it consumes.

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