Proposals for liberalising the European energy market fail to meet the real challenges
Yesterday, the European Commission published its plans for liberalising European energy. In the name of consumer protection, it continues in the pursuit of liberalisation of the European energy market at all costs. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) believes that this liberalisation drive fails to meet the real energy challenges facing Europe
In the view of the ETUC, the Commission’s legislative package runs counter to the objectives of protecting the most vulnerable consumers and fighting climate change.
The ETUC restates once more its opposition to the unbundling of the ownership of electricity and gas transmission networks from supply and generation activities. Experience in some countries has shown that this unbundling does little to reduce prices but, on the contrary, undermines the maintenance of installations and their levels of safety. Persisting in the drive towards liberalisation weakens Europe’s development towards the security of energy provision. The Commission itself recognises this problem in its proposals relating to foreign companies.
In addition, this is not the way to promote the use of renewable energy in Europe.
The energy consumers’ Charter announced by the Commission for 2008 is not adequate. The right to universal electricity and gas services must be recognised by all the Member States.
The ETUC has already emphasised that it is crucial today to speak with one voice at international level. This aspect is assuming ever greater importance in the light of growing global demand for energy and will determine our success in obtaining secure energy supplies. The attitude of Russia, and the disagreements that have occurred between Russia and certain European countries, reinforce our anxiety.
The Union needs to be sure of the security of its supply, to cooperate with both industrialised and developing countries, to establish strong solidarity mechanisms to further the principle of energy as a shared resource. But we find none of these priorities addressed in the Commission’s liberalisation proposals.
The European energy model must reform itself to meet the dual challenge of investment and of bringing energy consumption under control. For that, we need a committed, public industrial policy, linking investment programmes, research and development and regulation of energy prices. This means developing cooperation, not competition.
The social consequences, if the Commission’s proposals are implemented, will be very extensive and will not move in the direction of improving the quality of work and the quality of jobs. The Council must compel the Commission to improve the social dimension of its impact study on the consequences of these proposals.
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