|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||20/09/01, Volume 7, Number 34|
European Commission Director-General for Energy
Direct access is needed to new resource areas such as the Caspian Basin, through integrated oil pipelines. This will improve our security of supply, granting access to private companies that are not controlled by cartels.
The problem is even more crucial where gas is concerned. The Union is currently dependent on a handful of suppliers, with many important reserves still not linked by pipeline to the EU. The development of gas pipelines from the Caspian, Iran and the Balkans is crucial to the EU's diversification of supply - as are new links to North African gas resources.
Furthermore, under the proposal, member states will be able gradually to transfer aid from coal towards renewable energy sources. The increasing use of clean-coal technologies will also improve energy efficiency and substantially reduce pollution levels, while cleaner technologies developed in the EU can be transferred elsewhere, contributing to a significant reduction in greenhouse emissions globally.
Accounting for planned closures, nuclear energy will account for savings of around 300 million tonnes in CO2 emissions between now and 2010 - equivalent to halving the number of the vehicles on Union roads. The Commission's green paper on energy included a reminder of this evidence as a way of taking the heat out of the debate. Nuclear energy is unavoidable.
Investments in power stations are very high, but the long-term cost comparison will have to make allowances for variable fuel costs. Uranium accounts for 6&percent; of the cost of each kilowatt-hour it produces, while natural gas accounts for 60&percent;. Gas is subject to greater price variations than uranium, as well as supply limitations. Such considerations explain Finland's decision to build two new nuclear reactors.
But our ultimate goal is a real internal market offering a level playing field to all Community energy suppliers, not just a juxtaposition of 15 national markets. We need clear rules on cross-border trade as well as new infrastructure to link national networks.
To follow up on its proposals to promote cross-border trade in electricity, the Commission will soon launch an initiative aimed at ensuring the continued provision of adequate infrastructure capacity to support the internal market and security of supply.
Future energy prices depend on many factors including the price of primary energy sources for electricity production. The key, therefore, is that consumers will have competitive energy prices; it is they who will benefit from cost savings which result from competition.
And with the choice of suppliers comes improved standards of service - we've seen this in the telecoms sector, and we are seeing it in liberalised electricity markets.
We are aware that this situation results in serious difficulties and tensions, when firms in largely closed markets opt for an active Europe-wide expansion strategy.
The only appropriate way to address this is by the rapid adoption of our proposals for full market opening by the Council and the Parliament. In the meantime the EU executive will continue to be strict in its application of competition and state aid rules.
Recipients of stranded costs may not receive any competitive advantage against private rivals and market entrants. Such support may only be granted if it is absolutely necessary to ensure that the companies in question are themselves not disadvantaged by old investments that are no longer viable. In other words, it
can only bring disadvantaged companies up to the level playing field of their competitors - not above it.
I believed and continue to believe that nuclear safety is one of most important energy issues in the enlargement process. We have to make sure that applicant countries fulfil their commitments in this area and that their nuclear safety standards correspond to those in place in our own countries.