“It is no longer a question of vain words but of a bold, constructive act.”

The European Union is pulling together the fragmented energy policies of its 27 member states into a single, unified strategy. Reminiscent of the Schuman Declaration 60 years ago, the European Commission communicated its energy priorities for the next decade last November. Building-up towards an Energy and Innovation EU Summit in February, the Energy 2020 strategy prioritises competitive, sustainable and secure energy.

The challenge being how to close the gap between good intentions and human nature (too much focus on the restrictions, not enough on the fun).

Energy 2020 - the European Commission's strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy. Credits: European Commission, wordle.net CC:BY

Caught up in the sweep and romance of the Nabucco gas pipeline, Barroso recently went in search of gas agreements with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, choosing to ignore the mundane difficulties of energy efficiency and savings (one of Europe’s emerging success stories). Which is regrettable, because resource efficiency is arguably Europe’s most powerful and cost-effective Energy 2020 initiative.

Not only do countries and regions which make early progress towards greater energy efficiency strengthen their competitive position, but delaying of the necessary transformation has the potential to weaken governance institutions, eroding the relationship between the governors and the governed.

The European institutions and the NGO community is abuzz with intrigue as to what will happen on February 4th. In our view, and in the words of Robert Schuman, “it is no longer a question of vain words, but of a bold, constructive act”. At present, Energy 2020 is just a jumble of hopeful rhetoric (see the graphic).

[The graphic simply illustrates the relative frequency of words used in the Commission’s Energy 2020 communication – you’re not suppose to be able to read every word.]


About Paul Parrish

Paul was the Policy and Advocacy Officer of the Sustainable Energy Security programme between November 2010 and November 2012.

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