20th Jan 2022


Right of reply: Paolo Borchia MEP

  • Paolo Borchia is an Italian MEP with the right-wing nationalist Identity and Democracy Group (Photo: European Parliament)
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Reply by Paolo Borchia, MEP, to the article Lead energy MEP silent on gas meetings before vote published by EUobserver on 23 September.

In my capacity as shadow-rapporteur on the TEN-E file, I have worked for several months on this complex dossier along with MEPs from all the political forces of the EU Parliament.

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I hereby provide my reply to the article published by EU Observer, first and foremost in order to dismiss its groundless claim that I refused, supposedly, to disclose information about alleged meetings with gas lobbyists. Such meetings have simply not taken place.

I believe furthermore that my first-hand experience may offer some relevant insights to the subject matter, while it may also help clarifying other controversial points that were made in the article itself.

I refer for example to the allegations of corruption and lack of transparency that appear in reference to the above-mentioned dealings between MEPs and lobbyists.

While I have not met with any stakeholders during my mandate as shadow-rapporteur on this dossier, still I would not be surprised at all if I learned that some of my fellow MEPs have held meetings with representatives of the gas sector, provided that such an exchange followed the normal framework expected by the institutions' ethical standards.

As a matter of fact, dialogue between stakeholders and the EU institutions is usually a well-regulated, transparent and essential step of the legislative process.

After entering into force, legislative proposals that were negotiated in Brussels and Strasbourg may bear heavy repercussions onto several sectors of the real economy.

Thousands if not hundreds of thousands of jobs may be lost across Europe because legislators got something wrong while negotiating, while European industry may lose competitiveness overnight vis-a-vis other global players just because some policy-maker in Brussels forgot to properly factor-in data provided by the real economy.

It is therefore in the best interest of democracy that consumers' unions, business associations and representatives of local administrations are given the right to observe legislative activities in Brussels and inform lawmakers whenever a piece of legislation may produce unexpected impacts onto a given sector.

The same rights of representation do apply to representatives of low-carbon technology-based sectors, which constitute a strategic section of European economy.

The dialogue between these stakeholders and the institutions should not, and must not, be classified as "non-transparent" or even "corrupted" merely on the grounds of natural gas's lack of "political appeal" in some areas of the political arena.

In this regard, let us consider the following:

Since the beginning of the current mandate, there has been much talk within the EU institutions about the need to move forward as quickly as possible with the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Green Deal strategy was unrolled by the Commission as an encompassing instrument that would apply "green" benchmarks to virtually all legislative sectors.

This would in turn lead, or actually force, the Internal Market to suit its offer-demand capacity exclusively to climate-friendly technologies.

Natural gas as well as any form of low-carbon energy sources have been quickly labelled as "intruders", whose persistence within the European industrial apparatus would disrupt efforts to reconvert the Internal Market's economic model.

For such reasons, the European Commission proposed last year to exclude all dedicated support for oil and gas infrastructure under the TEN-E regulation - in a bid to align energy policy with its Green Deal's objectives.

However, there are flaws within this narrative.

No matter how hard the EU Commission and some sections of the parliament push for the creation of a purely renewables-based market, the truth is that renewables have yet to produce credible solutions for key strategic sectors of our economy.

There simply cannot be an "only-renewables" internal market until technology is sufficiently developed and affordable to generate sufficient demand.

In other words, if we want to be able to purchase affordable cars and to travel by plane and ship, we have no other option at this stage than relying on low-carbon sources.

Not to mention that there are very concrete reasons to believe that the recent over-enthusiasm about the renewables' potential has contributed to the current surge of energy prices, which is likely to be of structural rather than temporary character. And the costs of such miscalculations are falling once again upon the consumers' and small business owners' pockets.

The overnight removal of all forms of low-carbon energy from the internal market is therefore simply unthinkable unless we want to trigger a massive social and economic earthquake across half the Union.

Low-carbon energy constitutes an economically and technologically viable alternative of moderate environmental impact, which can therefore support a progressive energy transition according to a bottom-up timetable that takes into account the real evolutionary potential of market and technology as well as the real living necessities of European citizens.

Author bio

Paolo Borchia is an Italian MEP with the right-wing nationalist Identity and Democracy Group.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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