The first day of EU summit has just come to an end without any binding commitments regarding the Energy Union. The leading politicians of the EU – Donald Tusk, President of the European Council and Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission – have been involved in the project’s renewal but disagreements were to high to be overcome. The likely stakeholders were not enough motivated to settle the Energy Union Agreement. Hence, the leaders of the EU countries face the question – what’s next. It seems that all of them have three lessons to learn.
Firstly, the leaders of the EU countries should spend more time to familiarize citizens with the Energy Union assumptions. Without societal pressure it will be hard to succeed in such complex issue where it is required to meet expectations of various parties with incoherent interests. For most citizens of the EU important aspects of the Energy Union remain unclear and unimportant. For obvious reasons Poland and few of the Central and Eastern European countries are exceptions. As opinion poll conducted by IBRIS shows even before the last summit Poles expressed clear expectations toward the EU. 73% of them believe that expansionist Russian policy is the greatest threat for the EU security. 77% of Poles think that dependency on Russian energy resources is important issue for the EU while 37% of Poland’s inhabitants treat it as a matter of the greatest importance. In effect, Poles opt for the strong EU. 35% of them do not exclude necessity of further integration.
Secondly, those, who are responsible for the final shape of the Energy Union should work out its details. The Energy Union draft, presented by the European Commission, is not appealing for those who consider the EU as area with economic growth, of common values, a place that is influential in international relations. The proposed draft does not respond in satisfactory way to three basic problems: the lack of energy resources, high vulnerability of European economies to risk of energy resources prices fluctuation and how to increase of political might of the EU. New ideas regarding Energy Union such as binding energy efficiency target, development of renewable sources and infrastructure may help to decrease demand for resources, bring favourable changes in the way energy is being produced in membership countries or increase energy security of the EU members. However, they will not save us from exploiting high dependency of the EU on import of energy resources as a weapon that allows exporters to influence politicians and to have an impact on macroeconomic indicators.
Thirdly, the EU leaders must find solution to overcome political opposition of (the EU?) energy autonomy supporters at the EU states level (skasowałbym “at the EU level”). There is no agreement to shift energy policy up from national level to the EU level and the idea of buying gas collectively is not economically optimal solution for many EU members. Hence, legal and administrative actions seem to be the only solution to create self-activating crisis response instruments in case of cyber attacks or supply disruptions. The Energy Union must develop its deterring capabilities, not only in a passive way, by the introduction of common management of energy market. It also has to shape international relations in active way, taking into account important countries such as Ukraine, Moldova or Georgia which are critical for its interests.
To learn these three lessons by the EU leaders have critical implications for the union’s future. The Energy Union is a test which demonstrate whether the EU will be loose association of states with marginal role in world politics or influential partner, ready to act strategically and coherently in face of threats. The success of the idea will prove that the EU citizens are determined to shape secure and friendly external environment. Polish men and women are ready to bear this responsibility.
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