Indeed, the Energy Union is the result of vast collaborative work, following the political agenda of President Juncker. But the core principle of integrating Europe's energy markets is to a large extent 'made in Poland', conceptualised by Council President Donald Tusk and President Jerzy Buzek who revived the legacy of President Delors. The Energy Union now encompasses much more than the original concept but it still resonates well among Poles as I recently discovered when visiting the country.
The Energy Union Tour, which I launched in May, has a strong 'campaigning' element; I visit the Member States in order to debate, discuss, and explain why it is that the current situation is unsustainable and how the Energy Union will help us transition to a single energy market which is secure, competitive and sustainable. Yet, doing this in Poland felt like bringing the Energy Union back 'home'; I was ready to explain to my interlocutors the benefits of the Energy Union for Poland but many of them seemed quite convinced to begin with, especially in regions like Pomorskie which are highly ambitious about their energy transition.
Some of the reasons are rather evident: Poland is highly dependent on one external gas source and can therefore benefit greatly from further diversification and from a common energy market. It has therefore embraced regional cooperation, developing interconnections with its neighbours to the East and South. This will of course serve Poland's security of supply but it also embodies strong sense of European solidarity by gradually ending the isolation of the Baltic countries' energy infrastructure from that of the rest of Europe.
During my recent visit to the magnificent Polish cities of Sopot and Gdansk, there was another recurrent element which came up across my exchanges, other than security of supply: the common expectation from decision-makers, at all levels, to take responsibility over our environment by switching to sustainable energy use. This entails using innovative technologies to increase our efficiency on both supply and demand sides and using cleaner means of production.
In that sense, what I heard from the Poles was no different from what I've been hearing along my Tour across Europe: citizens want to be in control of their energy consumption and take a more active role in producing it; industrialists want greater security and stability of their energy supply, and our society as a whole is concerned by the devastating effects of climate change. These are genuine European voices which oblige my colleagues and myself to work hard to make this a reality!
Poland, on its part, is on track to meet its 2020 targets when it comes to its energy efficiency, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and integration of renewables.
I remain highly optimistic because I know that the same Polish ingenuity which thought securing supply through a single energy market - will also come up with revolutionary technologies for moderating our demand side. How do I know? Because I met the future Polish inventors when visiting Gdansk University where students from around the world can specialise in energy technologies.
I have also seen concrete results of these Polish minds in the Lotos Refinary which brings state-of-the-art technologies to enhance Polish, North Western European and Central and Eastern European energy security policy, especially in the range of stable fuel supplies.
I encourage the Polish government to continue and reinforce its investment in energy research and innovation so we can enjoy the fruits of further Polish contributions to the Energy Union. Of course, the EU will support Poland in this endeavour as well! The EU Cohesion Policy will provide at least €10 billion to implement Energy Union objectives in Poland until 2020. I also encouraged my Polish interlocutors to also tap the potential of the Juncker Funds which will mobilise at least €315 billion in additional investment over the next 3 years.
Finally, my optimism also stems from the high level of ambition of motivation I encountered at with decision-makers at regional level who clearly want to embrace the energy transition. They have already made some significant progress with new low-emission technologies.
This very constructive visit to Poland was not my first since I assumed my current role as Vice-President for Energy Union. In fact it served as a natural follow-up to my visit to Warsaw back in February when I met with Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and Deputy Prime Minister Janusz Piechociński - only weeks before the Energy Union Strategy was adopted.