At the Ministerial meeting of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs called for stronger action by the EU to ensure its security of energy supplies. This initiative takes place in a context of high oil prices which represent a continued drag on economic growth worldwide. Commissioner Piebalgs said: “We only have a small margin for manœuvre as far as the supply is concerned. As a result, we should strengthen our efforts on the demand side. This will be the message of the forthcoming Green Paper on energy efficiency that I will be presenting in the coming months.”

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For several years, the European Commission has underlined its concern regarding the growing dependency on energy imports, the weakening of the European economies as a result of high & volatile oil prices and the impact of the growing dependency on fossil fuels. Therefore, the Commission is currently developing a series of actions in order to reinforce the Union’s energy supply security.

Concerted action to reduce energy demand

The experience of the first oil shocks in the 1970’s clearly demonstrated that measures in favour of energy efficiency can reduce the energy intensity of our economies. It should be recalled that 40% of energy consumption and 45% of CO2 emissions are accounted for by buildings, and 40% by the transport sector. It is important to relaunch an ambitious policy in favour of energy efficiency in Europe in order to stabilize oil imports at their current level. This is the objective of the forthcoming Green Paper which the Commission will be proposing & which will give a new impulse to the efforts already undertaken in recent years.

Enhanced action in the external field

The EU will continue to deepen its bilateral cooperation with the main producer countries on which it depends, notably through the dialogue with Russia & through relations with the countries of the Caspian Basin, of the Mediterranean and with Norway. A new political dialogue with OPEC is being launched & the first ministerial meeting on June 9, 2005. In order to diversify the oil & gas supply networks, the EU is also currently reinforcing its cooperation with key transit countries, such as Ukraine. The discussions between the EU & the main energy consuming countries (U.S.A., Japan, China and India) will also be enhanced.

Improving the transparency of the oil markets

The lack of transparency in the markets & the uncertainty regarding the reliability & the accuracy of data favours speculation & therefore the volatility of oil prices. The enhanced EU-OPEC-dialogue should permit a better comparison of production capacities & stocks available. The Commission is also considering enhancing the transparency of oil security stocks within the EU by publishing twice a month consolidated statistics.

Creating a more friendly climate for investment

The Commission underlines the necessity of promoting investment over the medium term by developing a more favourable environment for foreign investors, particularly in those countries with important reserves. In this respect, it should be noted that, over the last 10 years, three quarters of oil & gas investments have been made in industrialized countries which only possess one fifth of the world oil & gas reserves.

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