We are in desperate need of a EU Energy Policy. Outcries coming from press reports, especially when something is happening (again) with East-West gas flows. Apparently, the EU is either lacking such a policy, or it is not appropriately communicating about it.  Or maybe another question comes up: is it smart enough? Facts are that, yes the EU does have indeed an EU Energy Policy. It is a policy based on a vision, a vision with three components. The policy is aiming for “markets, competition and efficiency”, it is equally focussing on “a sustainable energy economy”, and thirdly, it wants to “secure the EU’s energy supply”. From a historic point of view, one could even argue that finally, after some 50 years since its inception, we have one. Going through a process that started with a common coal policy (1952), followed by a common nuclear energy policy (1957), but failed on oil and later on gas, and failed to integrate it all into a common energy policy, the European Council agreed in the spring of 2007 on a three tier approach, covering the three objectives and formulating a vision for a real EU Energy Policy. And let’s be frank, none of the other large economic regions in the world have a comparable vision and such an integrated policy approach, as not many of the EU’s members have by-the-way.

Formulating the policy, as was done in 2007, is one thing. Starting to work on implementing paths, developing policy instruments and legislative frameworks is the next and more difficult. On “the market”, a comprehensive 3rd Energy market package was developed (following earlier energy market directives. On “the climate” a comparably challenging Green Package was proposed. And on “supply security” the Commission came with a rather fragmented 2nd Strategic Energy Review. The market package and the green package have already largely gone through the complicated EU decision-making process, whereas the supply package is now on the agenda. In addition, the Commission has indicated that “the EU needs to begin preparing its energy future in the longer term” and that “the Commission will therefore propose to renew the Energy Policy for Europe in 2010 with a view to charting a policy agenda for 2030 and a vision for 2050, to be supported by a new Action Plan”.

Three objectives, three separate action lines. Balancing the three objectives in an integrated approach is challenging and difficult. To what extent is the market approach consistent with the other two policy packages? And introducing a climate package with tradable emission rights and non-tradable targets for green energy, what impact does it have on the market designs for gas and electricity? Are the necessary investments in new pipes & wires for securing our energy supplies sufficiently coming under the prevailing regulatory framework? Or, put it differently; are we smart enough in the way in which we are making implementing steps in order to meet our stated objectives?

The Clingendael International Energy Programme (CIEP), the Loyola de Palacio Programme of the European University Institute, the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) and Wilton Park Conferences (WPC) will organise a four-tier program for discussing the potential for a smart EU Energy Policy. The program will consist of four workshops where academics will discuss the various interactions between the three policy objectives with stakeholders from governments, regulators and the industry. The objective of the program is to come with a set of “smart” conclusions and recommendations for the 2010 EU policy review.