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The Warsaw Voice » Business » April 25, 2013
Central Europe Energy Partners
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Talking Serious Business
April 25, 2013   
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Pawe³ Olechnowicz, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Central Europe Energy Partners, AISBL, reflecting on his meetings with EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger:

Central Europe Energy Partners, in the three years since its establishment, has created an important platform for talking “serious business” on energy and the future of European economic development. Energy is one of the most important elements in economic efficiency and producing a competitive edge for any economy. In Europe, with its diverse political and economic needs and different ideas for the future, energy should be a strong, unifying area where all individual interests are combined together to provide a safe, predictable and sustainable future. Without being unduly humble, I must say that we in CEEP, thanks to the strenuous and joint efforts of leading businessmen and businesswomen, academics, experts, and politicians, are edging forward. There’s still a long way to go, but when energy is considered, a united Europe should be a better organized, more reasonable, and a safer place.

I am particularly pleased with the unique idea which we started in October last year in Budapest. This was the “29+1” Energy Summit Conference, where 29 representatives of the Central European energy sector met with the EU’s Energy Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, to discuss energy. The conference participants focused on the Energy Roadmap 2050. The basis for discussion was a report analyzing Central Europe’s energy sector, called The Prague Report.

A few important issues emerged from the discussion. A Memorandum of the Budapest meeting emphasized support for the EU’s objective of increasing efficiency at all stages of the energy chain. The idea of affordable energy prices was backed with particular emphasis on the strong correlation between affordable energy and economic growth. The EU11 economies, which are still transforming themselves, should be supported and not disproportionally burdened with implementing EU energy policy. The Memorandum also took up the issue of the Emission Trading System (ETS) as a European trademark, providing that the existing approach be maintained.

The Budapest Memorandum also declared strong support for Europe’s renewable energy sources, namely wind and solar. Central European countries have favorable climate conditions for both developing wind power generation and expanding solar power. The same refers to biofuels, which can substantially cut CO2 emissions in the transport sector. Cleaner coal technologies should be introduced to reduce CO2 emissions, while preserving and enhancing the competitiveness of Central and Eastern European countries.

The Budapest Conference pronounced its strong backing for the development of shale gas extracting facilities. Nuclear power was supported, on condition that the highest available safety standards are enforced. In each case, with every aspect of energy solutions, the social impact of the proposed strategy and measures should be deeply analyzed before any decisions are made. The Memorandum ended with the conclusion that the common EU market for energy should become a backbone for the European economy. Strong emphasis should be put on the creation and development of European logistic systems for gas and crude oil storage and interconnectors, as well as electricity transmitting facilities.

The Energy Summit “29+1” Conference will be held on an annual basis in different EU11 countries. The second conference is due to be held in Vilnius, Lithuania on May 10. The main emphasis will be put on enhancing energy security. It is expected that particularly wide-ranging discussions will focus on the use of indigenous fuel sources, shale gas and renewables, combined with best available technologies (BAT). We are not against carbon capture and storage (CCS), but one should realize that this technology is not yet commercially viable and specialists estimate that it will not be anytime soon. Meanwhile, more attention should be paid to carbon capture and usage (CCU). Most fuel efficient plants will substantially reduce energy imports and help combat climate change. A new subject will also be examined: cybersecurity.

European competitiveness can be considered in the context of the various aspects of the Energy Roadmap 2050. For now, discussion will concentrate on the first milestone; which means the perspective after 2020 up to 2030. It must be remembered that the more expensive the energy, the less efficient the European economy will be. The problem is particularly acute for the EU11 states. There has been an important shift in thinking about these issues, but further work to bring together different views is needed to achieve a lasting and well-balanced compromise. CEEP will work stringently to achieve this. On April 18, a paper entitled “What energy, price, growth?” by Roland Berger of Germany and commissioned by CEEP, was presented in Bratislava. The paper will be presented in full at the European Economic Congress on May 14 in Katowice. During this event, vital energy issues will be discussed with renowned energy panelists.

Open, frank and well-structured discussions—to define the energy strategy for a united Europe and fine-tune the needs of individual countries—are the only way to a successful outcome. A more holistic approach to energy is required, one that will consider and combine environmental concerns, as well as the welfare and well-being of our societies—the end consumers of energy. We are ready to hold more meetings and discussions to support the development of the EU energy community. The energy security of Europe and the development of European industry based on affordable energy supplies are the two important issues we are determined to push forward.

Pawe³ Olechnowicz is Chairman of the Board of Directors at Central Europe Energy Partners, AISBL and President of Grupa Lotos S.A.

CEEP busy years
In June 2013, Central Europe Energy Partners will be celebrating its third birthday. It has worked hard over the past three years. It has achieved a lot, but more still needs to be done. Being the first regional association representing the Central European energy sector and its companies (gas – including shale gas, coal, oil, renewables, nuclear, grids, etc.), its overriding goal is to support the integration of Central Europe’s energy sector within the framework of a common EU energy and security policy. An important part of its work is to represent the interests of its members. At present, it has 18 members from Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.

CEEP is active in the International Energy Agency. It also works closely with the European Centre for Energy and Resources Security in London. It is taking part in consultations with EU bodies, including legislative initiatives within the Union.

CEEP organizes many conferences and events, for example, the annual “29+1” Conference, which aims to give CEEP members an opportunity for a direct, unofficial dialogue with the EU’s Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger. The 2012 Conference took place in Budapest, and this year’s conference will be held in Vilnius. At the Budapest Conference, the Budapest Memorandum was adopted as the guidance for CEEP activity for one year ahead. The document was submitted to EU institutions and officials, including the Commissioner for Energy.

Another outstanding project last year was a Conference in Prague in April. CEEP together with Ernst & Young presented a report analyzing the energy sectors of EU11 countries—known as the Prague Report. CEEP also led a panel discussion on energy at the 2012 European Economic Forum in Katowice.

The Prague Report emphasizes the strengths and weaknesses of EU-11 countries in terms of energy and shows how much these countries have already done to catch up with the EU-15. One of the most important aspects of the report is that it debunks myths about the region, including one about its alleged inability to deal with environmental issues in the energy context: the greenhouse effect and carbon dioxide emissions. One of the key messages of the report is that EU11 countries have to work harder together in the field of energy at the EU, European and external level. They need to make their voice heard across the European Union.

This year, a new report has been commissioned by CEEP: on the influence of energy prices on the competitiveness of the European energy sector. It is being prepared by consulting firm Roland Berger. The main point of this report is that low energy prices and the use of indigenous resources are of the utmost importance to the development of both Central Europe and the EU as a whole in the current macroeconomic situation.

In 2012, CEEP revamped its website (www.ceep.be), giving more and better information to not only its members, but also the general public. At the end of last year, it started publishing a monthly ‘CEEP Report’ to give more insight into European and global energy trends. This publication is distributed to more than 1,600 MEPs, politicians, scientific institutions, as well as key energy players in the industry.

In 2013, CEEP’s main task will be to continue supporting and facilitating the integration of Central Europe’s energy sector within the framework of a EU energy and climate policy. While fully supporting the EU’s “20-20-20” targets, it will be making sure that the interests of Central Europe are clearly and coherently presented and listened to. CEEP will be seeking to promote a balanced approach to achieving Europe’s climate, sustainability, and energy security objectives. This entails supporting a common and broad-based EU energy policy taking into account the interests of Central Europe.

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