A discussion with Director-General for Energy Ditte Juul Jørgensen

  • Dinner debate in Strasbourg

Chaired by Jerzy Buzek MEP, President of the EEF

Introductory remarks by Inese Vaidere MEP, Vice-President of the EEF

Speaker: Ditte Juul Jørgensen, Director General for Energy, European Commission

The EEF resumed its EEF in-person discussions with a dinner welcoming Ditte Juul Jørgensen, Director-General for Energy at the European Commission, for an exchange on the very pressing problem of EU energy security in light of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The timely debate, chaired by MEP Jerzy Buzek, EEF President and coordinator of the negotiating team for the new urgent regulation on EU rules for gas storage, gathered the interest of many Active and Associate Members as well as MEPs, whose turnout was indeed significant. 

The Vice President and Treasurer of the EEF MEP Prof. Inese Vaidere opened the discussion by sharing some considerations on the Russian unilateral attack against Ukraine and emphasising the need for a unified, decisive and strong European response. She said the EU should consider imposing further measures on Russia while looking at the energy supply alternatives available in third countries.

Director-General Ms. Juul-Jorgensen underlined how cooperation is the only adequate response to the challenges presented by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As the EU needs to achieve its energy independence and sovereignty, the recent events require it to combine its climate neutrality objectives with more pressuring needs, namely ensuring energy affordability and security. To this end, the EC RePowerEU Communication proposes to reduce the EU dependence on Russian fossil energy by 2/3 already this year and design a clear trajectory on how to get there.

Member States need to act in a spirit of unity and solidarity and to adopt cost-efficient measures in line with the EU Green Deal. Ms. Director-General stressed how the EC is already working to promote a transversal cooperation among Member States, system operators and companies to diversify supplies and secure European energy. She also highlighted the relevance of the consumption side and the need to reduce energy use through energy savings and energy efficiency.

In the shorter-term, the recently proposed urgent gas storage regulation, imposing minimum storage levels and specific provisions for a safe and secure EU energy system, represents a cornerstone in the European legislative framework to ensure that MS have enough gas for next winter. A further contribution will be offered by the new RePowerEU Communication to be presented later in May this year, which will detail how to ensure the achievement of specific objectives such as energy savings, efficiency, and supply diversification.

The Director-General’s keynote speech was followed by a lively discussion, with Q&A sessions offering participants an opportunity to ask questions and share their points of view on different topics related to the EU energy security.

The questions first addressed the design and coordination of the EU regulatory framework, the Member States’ capability to develop RES production, the problem of high energy prices and the one of diversification of the energy mixes. The importance of efforts to simplify the legislation so as to establish clear objectives and enforceable instruments and of further developing energy efficiency and a better integrated energy system was also underlined.
The focus then shifted towards the need for infrastructure in Europe, the role of CCS, the actual feasibility of fulfilling the gas storage targets set by the EC legislative proposal and the revision of both RES permitting and the EU ETS.

Final remarks were offered by our participants on involving Central-Asian countries in EU energy supply, the possibility of introducing common purchase agreements for heat pumps and solar PV, and on the need to take this very moment as an opportunity to transform the EU energy system.

The discussion continued in the form of a networking session offering participants the opportunity to exchange further information and perspectives.

It was a pleasure to go back to in-person debates and to see EEF Members and MEPs so willing to exchange on such a key topic. We do look forward to the next one!