Panel 4: Beyond the Pipeline Knot: The Future of the Energy Sector in the Wider Europe Region

Introductory remarks: Julian Popov, Fellow of the European Climate Foundation (Bulgaria/UK)

Anca Mihalache, Senior Analyst at Energy Policy Group (Romania)

Chi Kong Chyong, Director of Energy Policy Forum at the University of Cambridge (UK/Ukraine)

Oktay Tanrisever, Editor, Energy and Diplomacy Journal, Professor at the Department of International Relations, Middle East Technical University (Turkey)

Moderator: Adelina Marini, Founder and Editor-in-chief of euinside (Bulgaria)

Energy is increasingly having an important role in the European Union’s external policy. A market-based approach is essential for stable development of the internal EU energy market but also for the Wider Europe region. In terms of energy security, a shift of paradigm is needed away from a focus solely on gas with South Eastern Europe being a prime example, due to its relatively low gas consumption. Instead, an idea for further liberalisation is needed, ensuring market solutions and activating the region’s renewable energy potential. While a variety of complex issues were identified and discussed, the session also provided examples of initiatives having a positive impact, such as the High Level Group on Central and South Eastern Europe Gas Connectivity. The recent deal with Iran and Turkey’s position were on the agenda as well, with panelists concurring of their potentially considerable medium-term effect on the Union’s energy policy.

Energy security is often being mistaken with energy independence by the policy-makers. There is a tendency to ‘pipelise’ energy politics. EU’s narrative regarding the Southern Gas corridor is not accurate as it is unlikely that it will bring sufficient quantities of gas to Europe. The EU should focus on depoliticizing Russia’s gas trade. Turkey’s narrative on the same topic is also misleading since Turkish leaders’ wrongly put emphasis on the possibility for Turkey to ‘become another Russia’. Cooperation with the private sector in Turkey is key when it comes to overcoming Turkey’s reluctance to join the Energy Community. Eventually, Turkey could play an essential role for the Energy Union.

Energy should always be about the market and not about foreign policy, and South Eastern Europe finally understands that liberalisation is key. When it comes to the Iran deal and its impact on Europe’s energy sector, the immediate effects might be negligible, but the effects will start becoming apparent in five to ten years. Iran has great potential as a source for both oil and gas for the EU.

Main recommendations:

  • EU’s current Energy Union project is not ambitious enough. The Union should make a better use its existing legislative measures and tools to enhance the Union’s energy independence;
  • Policy-makers in the EU and the member states should stop equating energy security with the security of gas supplies. Energy security is a much more inclusive concept that encompasses the development of a country’s own resources, development of renewables and enhancing interconnectedness in addition to exploiting the traditional gas delivery routes.
  • When it comes to Ukraine, the Energy Union should help the country build institutional capacity;
  • The EU should make the necessary effort in engaging Turkey in the Energy Community despite the country’s reluctance;
  • It is important for the EU to put emphasis on the market-based approach and depoliticise the discussion on energy.

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Listen to the whole Panel 3 “Beyond the Pipeline Knot: The Future of the Energy Sector in the Wider Europe Region” discussion here: