Parliament calls for EU central purchasing body
By Marie-Martine Buckens | Thursday 14 June 2012
In the light of growing competition for energy resources and the existence of production monopolies, there is a need for greater promotion of the idea of common purchasing of energy raw materials by member states. This is one of the key ideas in a report by Edit Herczog (S&D, Hungary) that calls for enhanced energy cooperation by Europe with its international partners. The report, adopted on 12 June by the European Parliament (470 to 86, with 53 abstentions), is the EP’s response to the European Commission’s September 2011 communication ,’Engaging in energy policy cooperation with partners beyond our borders: A strategic approach to secure, sustainable and competitive energy supply’.
The idea of a European central purchasing body for energy raw materials has to date never rallied support from the capitals. The only common legislative measures they have been willing to accept are limited to strategic storage of oil products and security of gas supply in urgent situations. The one exception is nuclear fuel, governed by the Euratom Supply Agency, which often merely registers supply contracts negotiated directly by enterprises with third countries, although the Commission has a right of veto on the agency’s decisions.
Herczog introduced this idea at the last minute with an oral amendment tabled at the EP session, on 12 June. The amendment also recommends the use of instruments, such as the early warning mechanism in the framework of relations with countries of production and transit.
For Herczog, better information exchange is imperative. The major foreign energy suppliers, she said shortly before the vote, have their own information on consumption in European countries, “while we have no idea of what our neighbours consume. This knowledge would strengthen our position as buyers on the international market. We need new legislation on the provision and processing of this type of information, which naturally must remain confidential”. Herczog also called for better coordination between Europe’s energy officials and its external policy officials: “When ministers in charge of energy issues meet in the EU Council, they should address the external dimension of European energy policy in the presence of Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger and High Representative for Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton”. EU foreign policy should more effectively integrate the objectives of member states’ energy policies, Herczog said.
The idea has to date never rallied support from the capitals