27th Mar 2017

Brussels uses blackout to push common energy policy

  • Brussels said the blackouts were "unacceptable" (Photo: European Community, 2006)

The European Commission on Monday (6 November) used the weekend electricity blackouts across Europe to call for more powers for dealing with energy issues at the EU level.

Reacting to the power cuts that affected millions of citizens in mainly Germany, France, Italy and Spain, energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said "These incidents show, once again, that events in one part of Europe impact on other parts and again confirm the need for a proper European energy policy."

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"Energy security is better delivered through a common European approach rather than 27 different approaches," he added.

The EU is planning in January to table a set of measures to reform the bloc's energy policy.

A commission energy spokesperson said that part of the plans would be to formalise the current European grouping of Transmission System Operators so it "would be able to take certain binding measures [on national operators]."

He said such decisions could concern "standards for network use [or] technical rules for using national grids and regulators."

Companies investing in energy interconnectors in the future are also set to get clearer guidelines with the commission planning on identifying "which of the projects are of clear European interest."

This would send a "strong political message in order to tell where investments should be done."

The spokesperson also raised the idea of an energy coordinator who could iron out the administrative obstacles in building the energy sector.

While Italy on Sunday indicated it would support a centralised European regulator, other member states are set to put up a fight against any moves towards a fully integrated European energy policy believing it gets too close to national interest and security issues.

Meanwhile, Germany's E.ON has admitted that an overload on a high-voltage grid in the north west of the country was responsible for the blackouts.

But a senior executive at the firm rejected accusations from both German and French politicians that it was not investing enough in networks.

"The networks are in good condition and are constantly maintained. We are investing in these networks," Klaus-Dieter Maubach told ZDF television.

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