European energy policy is facing major challenges. In order to tackle the climate crisis, a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is essential. At the same time, security of supply and affordable energy for a competitive economy must be ensured.
The Heinrich Böll Foundation commissioned a working group of experts from politics, industry, applied science and civil society considering the challenges of European energy security, economic competitiveness and sustainability and the need to convince governments, businesses and European citizens of the practical feasibilty of a common European vision.
The global energy system is undergoing a structural crisis. At its heart lies the need to restrain climatic change while at the same time dealing with energy security in an era of rapidly growing demand. The widening gap between rising demand for energy and limited resources of oil and gas has, together with speculation, increased fuel prices to record levels. This in turn has raised the spectre of a recession. These combined challenges pose a significant threat to international economic and political stability. The current make-up of the European Union, with its flagging institutional reform owing to the Irish No vote, is ill-equipped to deal with these challenges. An outdated Nice treaty that does not reflect the new realities of an EU with 27 members is impeding effective decision-making, thereby undermining the EU’s role in a rapidly changing international system that is increasingly being shaped by rising powers such as China, India and Russia. The urgency for institutional reform is quite clear to everyone. Nevertheless, in times like these the EU cannot limit itself to institutional reform alone.