After we've reached a broad understanding that the Energy Union serves the common European interest, I would now like to show what it can offer to each Member State. Some countries would benefit mostly from better interconnection to their neighbours' electricity grids, others might see an improvement in the competitiveness of their market, or in the security of their gas supply, and so on.
Solidarity is not an empty word; it is at the heart of European integration, allowing EU countries to rely on each other when it comes to a wide range of policies - from environmental issues to budgetary rules, from energy to trade, and so on. Without that sense of trust, the entire political project of the European Union would not be possible.
Yet, the European integration project is not based on solidarity alone; the single market serves all of its Member States and their national interests. There is therefore nothing wrong with citizens and governments asking "what's in it for us?" On the contrary; this is an important and legitimate question in our political debate and decision-making process.
What does that have to do with the Energy Union Tour which I launched yesterday? Well, we have already established that the vast majority of EU citizens are interested in a common energy market. Back in February, the Commission announced a comprehensive Energy Union strategy on how to build a strong interconnected energy market where energy flows freely across our countries, where we reinforce our security of supply by investing in renewable sources, implementing the energy 'efficiency first' principle, and becoming global leaders in these emerging technologies. As I described in my previous post, the strategy was warmly welcomed by most groups in the European Parliament, by the European Council, by major stakeholders across the continent, and by hundreds of citizens I have met over the past few months.
But this is not enough; the success of the Energy Union project also depends on the benefits it can offer to the Member States, each and every one of them. That is why I launched the Tour. After we've reached a common understanding that the Energy Union serves the common European interest, I would now like to show what it can offer to the Netherlands, to the Czech Republic, to Latvia, and so on. These benefits to national industries, consumers, and the environment (even if the latter does not recognise borders) will be the core of the discussions with my interlocutors across Europe. Some countries would benefit mostly from better interconnection to their neighbours' electricity grids, others might see an improvement in the competitiveness of their market, or in the security of their gas supply, etc.
The Tour is therefore about bringing the discussion closer to the citizens, talking with national stakeholders about what they can expect as outcomes. I would like to use this opportunity to extend an invitation to you; decision-makers, students, journalists, researchers, entrepreneurs, and of course conscious citizens. Join the online discussions as I visit countries - not only the country where you live, but all countries. Remember that the energy transition in your own country is highly linked to the discussions taking place in your neighbouring countries (and their neighbouring countries) as well!
In my next blog post I will tell you more about yesterday's visit to the Netherlands. The upcoming visits are announced on the Energy Union page and I will send updates on my Twitter account. Throughout the tour I will continue using social media and digital communication to share and engage; to present but also to listen. Join me in making the Energy Union our common success!