The IED and Centro per un Futuro Sostenibile co-organised the international conference "The future of the Energy Union - European integration, Italian opportunities and Regions contribution" on 27th May in Cagliari, Italy. The high level of speakers analysed thoroughly one of the top priorities of the Juncker's Commission with a special focus on the Mediterranean and the next COP22.
THE ROLE OF REGIONS IN THE ENERGY UNION
Eloy Álvarez Pelegry
Director of the Energy Chair of Orkestra-Basque Institute of Competitiveness
It may be said that the Energy Union concept was launched with the Communication from the Commission "Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy" on February 2015.The Energy Union itself can be seen from different angles and various approaches. In fact in accordance with the different documents from European Union it goes from dimensions to lines of action. Furthermore, there is also a Road Map and a list of indicators to monitor and follow the progress. All in all, one can assume that the main issues of the European Union are focused on the internal energy market, decarbonization (energy efficiency and renewable), and energy security, solidarity and trust. Last but not least, the Energy Union stresses the importance of research and innovation and competitiveness.Within this ample framework, which may be the role of the regions in the Energy Union? One way to look at this is by examining the evolution of the Interreg programs. In this respect, there has been a continuous enlargement of the eligible areas in the successive Interreg programs. In order to assess the role of regions in the Energy Union, from my point of view, we could also consider the Regional Specialization Strategies which are currently one of the core policies of the European Commission.
Then, to respond to the question which is the role of regions in the Energy Union, we should take into account the dimensions, lines of action and the road map of the Energy Union, and assess the role for regions taking also into account, the Regional Specialization Strategies and the Competitiveness of the territories. So if we take into consideration this framework, we may identify some topics for regional cooperation related to energy. Taking into account the lines of action of the Energy Union and the Road Map, I believe that the issues in which there are more ground for cooperation are those related to decarbonization (in particular, through energy efficiency and renewable technologies), research and innovation related to energy and the key issue of territorial and energy competitiveness. In my opinion, competitiveness integrates the energy industry and the regional specialization strategies with the final aim for regions to be competitive territories. Perhaps, one way to progress in these ideas is to begin a formal and constructive dialogue. For that, I understand that there are three main "blocks" to cover, namely: the political, the technical and the instrumental aspects. In the first "block", we should identify and confirm political interest. For the technical point of view, the aim should be to propose projects focusing mainly on the topics of decarbonization, research and innovation and energy competitiveness. Following the focus of the Seminar Organized by Centro Per un Future Sostenible and the Institute of European Democrats, I would propose to continue exploring more in depth these relevant issues in a workshop or seminar that could take place in Bilbao with a program to be agreed upon. This may be the instrument to try to progress in assessing the role of regions in the Energy Union.
Main highlights and outcomes:
- The EU should focus more on the internal energy market, decarbonisation and energy security, solidarity and trust;
- It is necessary to invest more into research, innovation and competitiveness;
- The regions of the EU should be granted more responsibility considering the programmes of the Regional Specialization Strategies and the Competitiveness of the territories;
- The EU should identify more topics for regional cooperation related to energy;
- The EU should identify and confirm political interest and continue exploring the relevant issues related to assessing the role of regions in the Energy Union more in depth.
The event was organized with the financial support of the European Parliament.