In a reaction to geopolitical events and the EU’s dependence on imported energy, the European Commission (EC) has announced a new European Energy Security Strategy, with the aim of strengthening security of supply.

Among the strategy’s features are diversifying external energy supplies, upgrading energy infrastructure, completing the EU’s internal energy market and focusing on energy efficiency.

The EC also emphasized the need for Member States to co-ordinate their energy policy decisions and to present a united front in negotiations with external energy partners.

Among its specific proposals, the EC aims to extend its target for interconnection of installed electricity capacity to 15 per cent by 2030, from its current target of 10 per cent by 2020. It proposes to seek new foreign energy partners and supply routes, for example by expanding the Southern Gas Corridor and developing the Mediterranean Gas Hub. It proposes increasing infrastructure links between European countries and building pipelines that allow gas flow to be reversed. And it said it will take measures to strengthen emergency procedures, protect critical infrastructure and increase home energy production through further expansion of renewables and sustainable fossil fuel production.

Energy efficiency “plays a crucial role” and the EC said it would move to establish legally binding targets for 2030.   

The EC’s proposals, which include moves to ensure uninterrupted supplies for the coming winter, will be discussed at the European Council in late June. Among these moves are “stress tests” simulating disruptions to Europe’s gas supply.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said, “The EU has done a lot in the aftermath of the gas crisis 2009 to increase its energy security. Yet, it remains vulnerable. The tensions over Ukraine again drove home this message. In the light of an overall energy import dependency of more than 50 per cent we have to make further steps.”

European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said: “We want strong and stable partnerships with important suppliers, but must avoid falling victim to political and commercial blackmail. Collectively, we need to reinforce our solidarity with more vulnerable Member States. We also need to complete the internal energy market, improve our infrastructure, become more energy efficient and better exploit our own energy resources. Moreover, we need to accelerate the diversification of external energy suppliers, especially for gas.”

Louise Hutchins of Greenpeace UK called the strategy “a timid attempt at rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” and said Europe’s “reliance on dirty fossil fuels is at the root of its energy problem, yet the Commission’s plan does little to tackle it. In fact, pointing to false solutions like fracking and new gas pipelines will only lock us into fossil fuel dependence for decades to come.”