Six months on the job

Source: M. (Maroš) Sefčovič i, published on Monday, May 11 2015.

Last week marked half a year since the Juncker Commission i took office, since I joined his team as Vice President for Energy Union.

It was therefore an opportunity to take stock of what has been done so far and where we're headed. Six months are not a huge amount of time in the policy-making process, let alone in a human's life. But one of the top priorities of this Commission, one which is my field of responsibility, has done significant progress over these past six months, which I would like to share with you.

The Energy Union Strategy was conceived immediately when we took office and a team of 14 Commissioners worked on it relentlessly until we were ready to present its strategy on 25 February. This was a major milestone for at the Commission, but even more so it was major milestone for Europe, for Europeans. It is the way forward to ensure our energy is smart, clean, competitive, and affordable.

The solutions are not always easy but they are definitely within reach. By connecting the national electricity grids, for example, we could let energy flow freely across the EU. This will allow integrating more renewable sources into our grids, make it possible for countries to rely on each other in case of disruption, and empower citizens to choose among more energy suppliers. It will also make us less dependent on external energy suppliers. Equally important, by increasing our energy efficiency, we can significantly reduce the amount of energy we consume, hence drop our greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the global fight against climate change. These are some of the main elements of the Energy Union we are pushing forward.

I am very reassured by the positive reactions we have received so far about the Energy Union strategy. This includes the European Council and European Parliament, the business sector, civil society and citizens. The energy transition is not a top-down change. It is a transformation which involves all of us! And the backwind support we received made the Energy Union ripe and ready for its next phase, where we start implementing the strategy.

Other than that, in the past six months we have also made some major milestones with regards to new infrastructure which will bring gas to Europe from new countries through new routes. This included the creation of the Central East South Europe Gas Connectivity (CESEC) High Level Group as well as the Advisory Council of all countries along the Southern corridor gas project. This might sound administrative if you're not in the energy sector, but these forums are very important; they bring EU countries and EU partner countries to address energy supplies questions together, therefore much more efficiently!

Finally, over this period I've also organised and facilitated the intense negotiations between Russia and Ukraine on the flow of natural gas (what we call the "Winter Package"). I am proud to say that despite their dispute, we managed to ensure gas flows continue from Russia into Ukraine and to the rest of Europe.

So what's ahead for the next six months? Well, a major milestone will be the Paris COP21 conference in December. World leaders will strike a deal on how humanity intends to reduce its carbon footprint before it's too late. Of course Europe plays a major role in this international effort, and we strongly encourage our global partners to follow the same path.

Also towards the end of the year, I will present the first annual State of the Energy Union, specifying where EU Member States each stand towards our common energy market. But more on that in my future posts.

Have a wonderful week,

Maros Šefčovič