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EU wants joint energy market by 2014

Feb. 4, 2011 at 4:21 PM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- EU leaders said Friday the body should have a continent-wide energy market in place within three years.

"The internal market should be completed by 2014 so as to allow gas and electricity to flow freely," a document drafted by EU leaders at a Friday summit in Brussels reads. "Legislation on the internal energy market must therefore be speedily and fully implemented by member states in full respect of the agreed deadlines."

The European Union wants a functioning cross-border market to boost competition, enable the effective integration of fluctuating renewable energy sources and diversify energy imports.

It's not clear who will pay for the new infrastructure needed -- interconnectors, new high-voltage power lines and gas pipelines -- to transform Europe's energy mix. Brussels has said infrastructure investments totaling some $1.4 trillion are needed over the coming years.

Germany, Europe's largest economy, wants the industry to pay for it, which says it lacks the money due to the financial crisis. Brussels has postponed a decision until June, when the commission will identify a list of key infrastructure projects it will finance because the market won't.

Brussels in 2007 agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, to increase the share of renewables in the energy mix to 20 percent, boost energy efficiency by 20 percent, all by 2020 compared with 1990 levels.

While the penetration of renewables is steadily increasing, the efficiency target -- not yet binding -- is in danger of being missed. EU leaders urged for common standards in infrastructure and transport to reach the target.

"As of 1 January 2012, all Member States should include energy efficiency standards taking account of the EU headline target in public procurement for relevant public buildings and services," the document reads.

Leaders also urged assessment of Europe's potential for unconventional gas in a bid to boost domestic reserves as dependency on Russia as an importer is growing.

Long criticized of lacking a European energy policy, the commission starting next year wants member states to inform it about bilateral energy agreements with non-members.

"The commission will make this information available to all other member states in an appropriate form, having regard to the need for protection of commercially sensitive information. The high representative is invited to take fully account of the energy security dimension in her work. Energy security should also be fully reflected in the EU's neighborhood policy," EU leaders say.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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