Energy investments also need EU support

For Tamás Fellegi, the Hungarian Minister for National Development, the development of energy infrastructure in the EU must not be entrusted exclusively to the market and the integration of community resources is also required. This statement came before the meeting of energy ministers to be held this Monday, February the 28th.

On its 28 February meeting, the Council will adopt conclusions concerning the development of the energy infrastructure. The majority of the Western-European countries take the view, that the market is responsible for both implementing, and financing these developments. Is it still possible to support it by European funding? What is the position of the Hungarian Presidency?

It is true, that one of the more sensitive issues of energy infrastructure development is financing. Until the approval of the next multi-annual financial framework, energy ministers and European Institutions will consider alternative financing. Some member states, especially from Western Europe, believe that funding for infrastructure investments, needs to be financed by the industrial sector and the market. However, several countries, mainly new member states, believe that these investments also require European funding.

Since these infrastructural developments serve the interests of the entire EU and each member state, special attention should be paid to the set tariffs in an appropriate, transparent and non-discriminatory manner; as well as to the appropriate cost allocation for cross-border investments. The aim is to enhance competition and competitiveness, while considering the impacts on consumers. The European Council emphasised, on 4 February: only those projects may receive limited public funding which are reasonable from a supply security or solidarity point of view but are unable to attract enough market-based finance.

On 4 February, the European Council backed the plan on the elimination of network bottlenecks and isolated “energy islands” in the EU by 2015. Is a market-driven implementation of this idea possible?

Serious efforts have to be made in order to modernise and extend the European energy infrastructure, as well as connecting networks. At this point, the issue of project financing comes to the surface again. We have to promote regulations, which are attractive to investors.

Agenda items will include the Southern Gas Corridor, which will deliver gas from the Caspian Sea or perhaps from the Middle-East, to Southeast and Central-Europe. What progress is expected in this field? What is the opinion of the Presidency on the possibility of connecting Nabucco with the Turkish-Italian-Greek ITGI pipes?

Both as a member state and the current holder of the Council Presidency, Hungary is paying great attention to the development of the Southern Gas Corridor projects, since they significantly contribute to the EU’s energy security, especially to its Eastern region. Several major steps have been taken, since the Commission carried out successful talks with Azerbaijan, which plays a central role in the Nabucco project. However, the implementation of the investment is still not entirely certain, it requires further political and economic negotiations. Similarly, discussions are necessary, concerning the connection of competitive diversification network plans.

At the Council’s meetings, the European Commission is scheduled to present a communication on the status of the objectives set for 2020, for renewable energy. What is the current situation, especially in the new member states?

It is obvious from the National Action Plans that member states take their obligations concerning renewable energy seriously. The approach is gaining ground, however, that objectives should not be considered as obligations, but rather as a tool for future-oriented economic development. The natural and economic assets of the new member states vary, but everywhere, there is at least some room for the exploitation of renewable energy sources. And the new member states have realised this potential.

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