On Wednesday, the European Union Commission approved plans to combine the energy markets of its twenty-eight member countries into a unified energy market. The Commission stated that the EU Energy Union would provide many benefits to the countries of the EU, lessening their dependence on energy supplies from foreign countries and boosting their economic power significantly. The ambitious plan is facing some criticism, and has yet to be approved by the European Parliament as well as the EU's member countries, but it certainly has the potential for major influence on European economics.
The proposed Energy Union would give the EU much more power and choice in the trade and consumption of energy products, as well as help in the EU Commission's goal in making the energy industry more "renewable and sustainable". The Commission stated that vast benefits would come from the proposition, including more influence for the EU Commission in negotiating contracts in energy supply, lower prices, reduced use of fossil fuels, business savings of up to 40 billion euros a year, and millions of jobs. Another important part of the plan is to decrease dependence on Russia and its company, Gazprom, for gas supplies. Gazprom is currently the EU's biggest energy supplier, being a sole source of gas for many EU member states. The EU wishes to diversify its sources and build a pipeline to get gas from countries such as Azerbaijan and Iran to provide security in energy imports in the future.
As optimistic as the Commission is on the proposal, it has its detractors. Many critics say that this is an effort by the Commission to take away sovereignty from the member countries. Since the proposal needs to be approved by all of the member countries before it is made into policy, it is sure to face opposition from nations unwilling to give up their power. The plans are also being attacked by environmentalists, who claim that this plan does not give enough attention to using renewable energy and instead targets trade in fossil fuels. Since the EU pledged to have a 27% clean market energy share by 2030, environmental groups argue that the proposals will need much more focus on renewable energy sources to meet this goal.
The proposals are set to be debated by the environmental ministers of the EU member nations on March 6th. They are also to be turned into official legislation documents to be put through Parliament by 2019. If the member nations approve this plan and it is passed through Parliament, it can be one of the biggest and most ambitious energy industry projects in European history. Do you think that the EU will agree to a singular Energy Union?