4 January: EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said today that proposals for a common European energy policy would be presented to EU member states before the end of 2006

Mr Piebalgs’ announcement came as the EU welcomed an agreement for the resumption of gas supplies from Russia to Ukraine following a dispute which led to the suspension of Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine on 1 January 2006 and reductions in deliveries to some EU member states.

“It is clear that Europe needs a clearer and more collective and cohesive policy on security of energy supply,” Mr Piebalgs said. “To date, the issue of security of energy supply is only really considered at national member state level, but in reality we need a much greater European-wide approach on this issue.”

Mr Piebalgs said the issue had been raised at an informal summit of EU leaders in the UK in October 2005 and that he would “issue a first communication on a new European energy policy in spring, drawing final conclusions and proposals before the end of the year”.

In Germany, economics minister Michael Glos said on 2 January 2006 that the gas supply dispute showed how important it was to have a “wide and well-balanced energy mix”. He said the issue would be open for further discussion at a German national energy summit to be held early in 2006, as announced towards the end of 2005 by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mrs Merkel’s new coalition government agreed on a pact in November 2005 that acknowledged “differences” between the coalition partners on the use of nuclear energy for power production. The government said for this reason, an existing law requiring a gradual phase-out of nuclear power plants in Germany passed by the former government – and a contract with energy supply enterprises – could not be changed.

However, the coalition pact acknowledged that a “sound overall energy policy concept must be based on a balanced energy mix”.

In an interview published in December 2005 in Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper, Mr Glos was quoted as saying of nuclear power: “We should not turn our backs on a technology of the future… But I hope that the last word has not been spoken.”

Meanwhile, a member of the executive board of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) called for an “ideology free” debate about extending the lifetimes of Germany’s nuclear power plants. Carsten Kreklau, responding to the Russia-Ukraine dispute, said Germany needed the broadest possible energy mix, including nuclear power, which he said continued to be “the most important” provider of baseload energy supply.

Thirteen out of the 25 EU member states produce nuclear power and nuclear energy is the EU’s largest single energy source for electricity generation – currently about 32%.

Source: NucNet
Editor:John Shepherd

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