Europe’s Long Energy Journey: Towards an Energy Union
Europe’s Long Energy Journey: Towards an Energy Union / David Buchan and Malcolm Keay. Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. Oxford University Press, 2016 – £25
Présentation (© OIES) :
The European Union faces a major energy challenge: it needs its energy union plan to succeed if it is to meet its international commitments under last month’s Paris climate agreement, at a cost which the European economy can afford. The task is complicated by today’s low oil prices, which increase the real burden of developing clean alternative energies.
This new book argues that further Europeanization of energy policy is needed; it will help increase continent-wide economies of scale, remove national distortions from the energy market and prevent some EU states free-riding on the emission reduction efforts of other states. But the energy union plan will only provide these benefits if the right questions are asked and the right issues are tackled.
A key question that the European Commission architects of the energy union plan have not asked is whether the emissions trading scheme can of itself deliver a low-carbon energy system; the authors doubt it can and suggest innovative alternatives. They stress the need for the Commission to recognise the broken nature of Europe’s electricity sector, if Brussels is to make the electricity market reform promised for later this year meaningful.
The book also presses for a widening of focus from energy efficiency alone to a much broader examination of the role that energy demand can play in the transition to a low-carbon economy. In addition, the EU should do more to take the solution to its energy insecurity into its own hands and to improve its internal energy market’s interconnections and resilience against external shocks, and rely rather less on the goodwill of foreign suppliers.
In tracing the long and winding journey of EU energy and climate policy, the book illustrates how far EU policy still falls short of a real energy union. In fact, the energy union plan is as much about preventing the EU’s 28 governments from sliding further backwards into national policies as about forward leaps in the Europeanisation of energy policy. But even for this modest task, clear central direction is lacking. The book argues that the hole at the heart of the energy union – even as a reform process – is inadequate governance, and the Commission’s reluctance to take a strong position in the face of Eurosceptic governments in member states like the UK and central and eastern Europe.