7th Dec 2022

De Villepin calls for new EU energy tsar

French prime minister Dominique de Villepin has proposed a new EU energy representative and a high-profile summit with the bloc's energy suppliers during next year's German EU presidency.

Speaking at the International Bertelsmann Forum in Berlin on Friday (22 September), Mr de Villepin suggested that a new EU special representative on energy - negotiating on behalf of the bloc's member states - should work closely with foreign policy chief Javier Solana and energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The French PM argues Europe needs a new representative to speak with one voice on energy issues (Photo: European Commission)

"Our weight in negotiations with producers will increase in proportion to our ability to speak with a single voice," he said, according to press reports.

"The special representative for energy could organize early next year, under the German presidency, a summit bringing together Europeans and their main gas and oil producing neighbours: Algeria, Norway and Russia of course, but also for example the countries from the Caspian Sea region such as Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan," said Mr de Villepin.

"With these close neighbours we already have partnership agreements that cover numerous aspects of our relations. Now that energy is playing an expanding role in our trade, it is time we signed agreements dealing specifically with this issue."

The French government leader gave strong backing to the idea of a single EU approach to energy - but said citizens should be protected from mounting prices.

"The liberalisation of energy markets is not understood by our citizens. That is what they blame as the main cause of their bills rising. It is up to us to explain that the only long-term answer is to create a great European energy market," he said.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, however, rebuffed the idea of another EU energy chief.

"We already have an excellent energy commissioner who is doing a very good job," Mr Barroso said according to Financial Times.

Putin pledges heated winter

Meanwhile, Russian president Vladimir Putin assured German and French leaders of secure Russian energy imports during this year's winter.

At a meeting in Paris on Saturday (23 September), Mr Putin stressed Russia would fulfil its duties towards its partners in Europe, pointing out that energy co-operation was a high priority for his government, the BBC reported.

He was reacting to concerns raised by events in January when several European countries were affected by Moscow cutting off gas supplies to Ukraine following a spat over prices. The EU imports about 25 percent of its natural gas from Russia.

Mr Putin also commented on the Energy Charter Treaty, a document aimed at integrating the Russian energy markets into the broader European and world markets based on liberal principles, which the EU is pressing Moscow to adopt.

The Russian president said that the charter should be amended or completely re-drafted, adding that in its present form the treaty harmed Russian interests.

"Our producers, who have long-term contracts for [energy] supplies, are unhappy because it [the Charter] puts us in an unfavourable situation in signing long-term transit contracts," he said, according to RIA Novosti.

Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'

Ukraine and a looming economic recession is set to dominate the upcoming Swedish EU presidency, which takes over at the start of next year. Sweden's ambassador to the EU, Lars Danielsson, laid out some of its priorities.

French official accused of conflict over EU fish lobby job

A senior French official is being accused of conflicts of interest for spearheading a leading role in Europeche, a fishing-industry lobby group based in Brussels. The hire comes as the EU Commission threatens a lawsuit against France over fishing.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  5. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  6. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe

Latest News

  1. EU delays Hungary funds decision, as Budapest vetoes Ukraine aid
  2. Borrell gets pension from MEP fund set for taxpayer bailout
  3. Autocrats make us all less secure
  4. Big Agri's lies: green EU farming not to blame for food insecurity
  5. German top court declares €800bn EU recovery fund 'legal'
  6. EU countries struggle to crack Hungary's vetos
  7. Frontex expanding migrant route-busting mission in Balkans
  8. EU ministers in fresh battle on joint debt, after Biden subsidies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us