They call it the 'Grand' Duchy of Luxembourg for a reason! - EU monitor

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They call it the 'Grand' Duchy of Luxembourg for a reason!

Source: M. (Maroš) Sefčovič i, published on Wednesday, June 17 2015.

Last Monday saw important progress in the advancement of the Energy Union, especially when it comes to the creation of an internal energy market. Almost at the exact same time I was congratulating the Luxembourgish Prime Minister for his country's exemplary track record in regional energy integration, three major regional agreements were signed (just a few hundred meters away). The G7 Conclusion of that same day was the cherry on top!

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is perhaps not big in size but it's indeed 'grand' in other ways. For example, it is one of Europe's front-runners when it comes to regional energy integration. From the days of the Coal and Steel Community of the 1950s, of which the Duchy was a founding member, to its full and incomparable integration of its gas market with Belgium - Luxembourg has always been a pioneer. When meeting Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, I referred to this exceptional integration of gas and electricity, but also discussed with him how Luxembourg would further benefit from the Energy Union.

Just a few hours apart from my meeting with Prime Minsiter Bettel, three other major announcements were made, with significant implication on the integration of our energy markets: the German initiative for closer energy integration with all its electrical neighbours; the declaration of the Pentalateral Energy Forum of 5 EU countries and the agreement by the Baltic countries for reinforced interconnection. These three declarations underline how important it is to rely on regional cooperation to achieve Energy Union.

On the same day, another excellent piece of news came from the Bavarian Alps; the G7 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to keeping global warming below 2 degrees through a transparent and binding global system. This is an important message, coming six months ahead of the UN Climate Conference in Paris. Of course, as President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "The words at Elmau must now materialise into concrete actions in Paris.”.

The conclusion of the G7 Summit came up in practically every meeting and event I held that day in Luxembourg. It was a topic for discussion when I met with the Bridge Forum, a local organisation which brings together EU citizens, business and civil society. I was also asked about it during the very successful Citizens Dialogue event which I held in Luxembourg that day. Using high-tech tools, citizens in the audience and on social media interacted and expressed their opinions and concerns. Their comments ranged from the role of nuclear to the drilling-related earthquakes in the Dutch region of Groningen (which I also visited recently and wrote about as part of the Energy Union Tour).

Citizens Dialogue with Vice President Šefčovič & Luxembourgish Minister Etienne Schneider

Video of Citizens Dialogue with Vice President Šefčovič & Luxembourgish Minister Etienne Schneider

I was very lucky to co-host this event with Luxembourg's Minister of Economy and Trade, Etienne Schneider, who explained to citizens with passion and wisdom why the Energy Union was so important. The perspective of Minister Schneider is in fact not limited to Luxembourg only as he is about to take the presidency of the Energy Council for the second half of this year. The Council will be in excellent hands!

Finally, this was also an opportunity to thank the Latvian government for their leadership in the past six months, as the Energy Council convened in Luxembourg on that same day. In fact, I combined my visit to Luxembourg with presenting to Europe's Energy Ministers how the Energy Union's governance system would actually look like. I explained to them the importance of a robust system to ensure that we will all meet our commonly-set 2030 energy and climate goals.

It was a long long day with meetings from morning till evening and quite a long journey back to Brussels. But it was a day which gave the Energy Union exactly the boost it needed.