The fifth EU-US Energy Council met today in Brussels, chaired by EU High Representative/Vice President Catherine Ashton, EU Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and US Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. Minister Ioannis Maniatis of the Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change represented the rotating EU Presidency. The Energy Council, a forum on EU-US energy priorities, promotes transparent and secure global energy markets; fosters policy and regulatory cooperation on efficient and sustainable energy use; and pursues joint research and development on clean energy technologies. These actions boost economic growth and jobs, enhance energy security and international cooperation, and highlight the importance and urgency of tackling global energy and climate challenges.
Developments in Ukraine have brought energy security concerns to the fore and prove the need to reinforce energy security in Europe. The EU and the United States re-affirmed their condemnation of the illegal annexation of Crimea to Russia. The EU and United States recognised that our energy security concerns and those of our friends and partners pose common challenges, and are considering new collaborative efforts to address these challenges. The Council underscored that energy relations with Russia must be based on reciprocity, transparency, fairness, non-discrimination, openness to competition and continued cooperation to ensure a level playing field for the safe and secure supply of energy.
The Council affirmed its strong support for Ukraine’s efforts to diversify its supplies of natural gas including through the rapid enhancement of reverse flow capacities, increased gas storage capacity, and decisive measures recently announced with the IMF to build a competitive energy economy. The Council also welcomed the firm commitment of the Ukrainian Government to transform its system of subsidised consumer energy prices into targeted measures that mitigate the impact of price increases on the poor and vulnerable. The EU and the United States will work with Ukraine and international partners to extend best international practice as Ukraine takes these steps. The EU and the United States also welcome the determination of the Ukrainian government to pursue energy efficiency, market transparency, and the long overdue restructuring and reform of Naftogaz. The Council emphasised that all near-term actions to improve Ukraine’s energy security should be pursued in the context of a strategic vision of full integration into the European energy market. In this context, the Council reaffirmed its commitment to work with Ukraine on the legislative and regulatory reforms necessary to realise this vision and support it along its path.
The Council further welcomed the prospect of US LNG exports in the future since additional global supplies will benefit Europe and other strategic partners. The Council noted the importance of developing interconnections to put an end to any isolation of Member States from European gas and electricity networks by 2015.
The Council reaffirmed the importance of the Southern Gas Corridor to bring gas to Europe, urged for timely construction of a dedicated, scalable pipeline which keeps the options open for additional supplies, and agreed to explore investments to strengthen gas supplies to Central and Southeast Europe. The Council also recognised the Republic of Moldova’s plans to interconnect its gas and power systems with EU networks.