Interview with Herbert Reul, Chair of Ep Committee on Industry : Eu's Energy Efficiency Policies Worry Russia

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Since the gas crisis between Ukraine and Russia, in January 2009, the European Commission has intensified work on security of gas supply. Aside from a proposal for a new gas regulation, the Commission has established, with Russia, a revamped early warning mechanism. Towards the end of the year, the executive should also propose a new infrastructure package to help further enhance security of supply. Europolitics New neighbours spoke to MEP Herbert Reul (EPP, Germany), chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Industry (ITRE).

Are you satisfied with progress on energy security?

Over the past months, together with the Council, we have come to a political agreement on the new security of gas regulation. This agreement will lead to considerable improvement. From this perspective, I am satisfied with progress. However, shortcomings were mainly due to a lack of infrastructure in some member states. In the end, this has to be solved not by the legislator, but by energy companies themselves. The infrastructure package that the Commission is announcing for the end of this year will certainly play an important role in enhancing security of supply.

With the Lisbon Treaty now in force, what initiatives would you like to see Parliament take on energy security?

The new treaty does not change the principle that the European Commission has the sole power to propose legislation. The new legal base for energy will, however, incite the Commission to propose ever more legislation, also in new areas. I am not convinced this would be the right way forward. Take, for example, liberalisation. We already debated the third package while the second one had not even been properly implemented. We had not had the time to see its full potential in many member states. More generally, over the last two years, we have also adopted many amendments to existing legislation and have passed new laws. Let us rather concentrate on implementing these measures. After that, we can then carefully evaluate the results before going further.

How could the proposed European Energy Community contribute to ensuring EU energy security?

For the time being, only the broad outlines of the proposal have been presented. And, to be perfectly honest, I have not seen any added value so far. The new treaty provides us with a broad legal base for energy legislation. We are also very active already in supporting energy research. Take the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan. This still lacks financial backing from member states. Another example is the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project. …