The format was a smart one: a short speech by each panelist (no more than 5 minutes), followed by a fairly long Q&A session with discussion open to the public (about 150-200 people, I'd say). There was indeed a combination of commissioners, top official and MEPs, but also representatives of the private sector and NGOs, as well as bloggers.
My speech went roughly as follows (from memory):
Europeans are confused about energy because they get conflicting signals. European energy policy can be described in two short sentences: "markets will provide" and "what is our gas doing under their toundra?" This reflects the fundamental sense of entitlement we all feel: public priority is growth, economic criteria dominate, and GDP growth requires increasing energy supplies. So we live in a world where increasing demand is a given, and where we are told that markets will solve all problems. Thus the liberalisation policies, which are sold (wrongly) as a way to lower prices (as opposed to potentially 'truer' prices), and which structurally encourage the private sector to invest in gas-burning power plants, making our import dependency problem worse and contradicting the objective to fight climate change. But blame is shifted towards others, whether protectionist, statist France or nasty authoritarian Russia. Liberalisation is a jobs programme for bankers and right wing politicians, which allows all to go on as if nothing needed to be done, and which ignores that the solution is on the demand side, not the supply side.
To be fair, my whole panel was about the demand side, and it was discussed at length, but various attendees told me that it was the first time that demand had been discussed at such length in such a conference...
I had various other opportunities to speak throughout the day; in particular, I was able to ask very explicitly EU Commission representatives (from the energy directorate, and later from the competition directorate) how they reconciled their push for liberalisation (and the issue that it structurally favors tecnologies that have lower financing costs) with the fight for security of supply and against global warming. There was no direct response from DG TREN, and a more combative one from the competition director general, Philip Lowe. I was also able to ask several pointed questions about our attitude to Gazprom, which were met by vigorous responses (from Philip Lowe again, as well as from Claude Mandil, the boss of the International Energy Agency) but also encouraging nods from various corners.
So the mission to spur the debate was accomplished, I think; hopefully a number of people heard some new viewpoints and will come to visit ET, which I was able to promote on various occasions.
Friends of Europe should have a summary of the debate on their website in the near future; I'll point to it as it comes online.