Energy Community - a role model for EU integration
The Energy Community Treaty entered into force more than four years ago with the aim to create a stable regulatory and market framework that will include countries from Central and South-Eastern Europe into the single energy market of the European Union.
With the creation of the regional market and implementation of the EU acquis, the countries of the region will be able to attract investments in power generation and infrastructure in order to ensure stable energy supply that will contribute to further economic development and social stability in the region.
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The Energy Community is designed in the way that leadership is jointly by European Commission and member countries. This increases the commitment of member countries for co-operation in achieving the above mentioned goal. Following this principle, the Republic of Macedonia acting as a presidency of the Energy Community in 2010, focused on achieving the priorities of the Energy Community. This year, with the enlargement to Moldova and Ukraine, the Energy Community has shown that its goals are pan-European and bigger than the borders of the Western Balkans. Negotiations with other observer countries, under the leadership of the European Commission, have continued in the right directions, and another country, Armenia, has officially applied to become an observer country to the Energy Community Treaty. This shows that the Energy Community has become a good example for regional co-operation on energy matters.
Regional initiatives ...
The regional initiatives that are being undertaken further emphasise regional co-operation in development of the regional market as concrete means of promoting the security of supply. One project of this kind is certainly the project for establishment of the Co-ordinated Auction Office, with the final goal of having efficient management of the cross border transmission networks that will contribute to faster development of regional market and will attract investments in generation. Another activity is the Energy Community Gas Ring Concept. It would foster regional co-operation, increase security of supply and efficient operation of the networks. Further, at the Ministerial Council, last November in Skopje, contracting parties decided to prepare a Regional strategy in order to have a co-ordinated energy development within the Energy Community.
Other areas of co-operation are renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. The potentials for utilization of renewable energy sources has been analysed during the past two years and shows hat this region can achieve 20 percent target set in 2020 as an EU policy. In this respect, the recommendation of the last Ministerial Council held in Skopje will become an obligation for the Energy Community. Possibilities for energy savings and proper use of energy in the contracting parties have been also recognised in the transport sector, construction, industrial and residential sectors. All these activities are being supported by different task forces on an expert level.
Commitments and Challenges
Contracting parties have reiterated their European integration aspirations by aligning the national legislation with EU standards continuously in order to achieve competitiveness, sustainability and environmentally-friendly energy systems. However, the process is not easy. The region has been faced with important efforts undertaken in terms of legislative work, administrative capacity and resources. At the same time, the political and social perception is something that policy makers have to take care for.
Contracting parties are facing many challenges. Further opening of the markets and enforcement of the implementation of the relevant EU standards is something that is expected to be done. Modernization of the existing infrastructure and attracting investments in new infrastructure are one of the goals of the community. There is great potential for energy generation from different sources and possibilities for development of projects that will contribute to the region in general and will additionally strengthen the cooperation between the countries on the institutional level.
A Model of Success?
The importance of co-operation in this region in different fields of mutual interest, especially in the field of energy is evident. Energy Community is a success in itself and an example for development of regional initiatives in different sectors. It is not only about energy but Energy Community is active in many other policy areas related to climate changes and social aspects in order to decrease energy poverty. Although, it has shown progress in harmonization of the legislation and declarative support for regional initiatives, this should go a step forward towards implementation of the legislation and acting in compliance with regional initiatives in order to be successful.
The Energy Community represents a role model how can successfully combined efforts of the European Union and aspirant countries for integration, namely promoting successful stories of EU integration as a participatory and inclusive process.
As Presidency, the Republic of Macedonia contributed to achieving the priorities set for 2010. It acted as an active promoter and supporter of the Energy Community and its work on the energy agenda showed substantial results. Co-operation in the energy field and creating a common energy market from very small local markets will increase the security of supply which will further contribute to economic development as a finial goal to improving the living standards of the people of the region.
Fatmir Besimi, Minister of Economy, Republic of Macedonia