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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » June 17, 2010
Energy Security Conference
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No Alternative to Common Energy Policy
June 17, 2010   
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Janusz Steinhoff, former deputy prime minister and economy minister: The European Union’s energy policy has finally started to take the form expected by Poland and, even more importantly, it meets the challenges of the contemporary world.

It is obvious that the European Union should pursue a common energy policy. The policy will result in lower energy prices and enable the EU to build a strong position with regard to energy suppliers. It will also contribute to a thorough and full development of the market and synergies enhancing the competitiveness of the European economy as a whole.

The draft directive on the security of natural gas supplies recently approved by the European Parliament takes into account a large part of Poland’s demands and deserves recognition as a rational step toward ensuring energy solidarity in crisis situations. The directive requires operators of transmission systems to build so-called interconnectors for bidirectional transport of gas. In the future, gas will be transmitted across the EU without any restrictions. New means of responding to supply disruptions have also been approved.

Until recently the construction of a common European energy market based on rational foundations proceeded with difficulty. Let us hope that the first signs of greater opening to this idea mean that measures serving particularistic interests will be abandoned because they contradict the idea of building a European electricity and gas market free from excessive regulation.

It is not only the energy market but also the free market in the broadest meaning of the word that requires determined measures. The EU’s fundamental idea of free movement of people, goods and services has not been fully put into practice yet and still requires determined action in many areas.

The sustainable development policy consistently being pursued by the EU stands behind the decision to meet another big European challenge. We are at the vanguard of the fight against climate change. But the implementation of the energy and climate package involves significant problems for member states—problems that differ in many respects across the countries. Because of the special nature of its fuel and energy sector, Poland faces especially important and difficult tasks.

The fiasco of the Copenhagen climate summit has shown that particularistic interests are still stronger than solidarity in the fight against climate change and that ambitious goals in this respect require a long process of change in policies and views. It seems, however, that the process of getting ready for more radical decisions has already begun.

To be healthy, global economic competition has to be based on similar work and environmental protection standards. If these standards are unavailable, “imperfect” competition will be generating development disparities, at the same time doing irreversible damage to the Earth’s natural environment.

Europe is now drawing conclusions from the failure of the Lisbon Strategy. Its economy has not become the world’s most modern economy. And this means that European politicians are facing new challenges associated with work on the EU’s strategy until 2020. In the course of this work and during its forthcoming EU presidency, Poland will probably continue making efforts to ensure that some areas of the Community’s functioning respond more effectively to the requirements of the contemporary world. This calls for a more coordinated foreign policy, a common energy policy, determination in building the common market, and the use of synergy in order to enhance the competitiveness of the European economy.
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