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Energy and the EuroElections 2009 : EPP-ED

by Luis de Sousa Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:17:00 AM EST


This post starts a series intending to reflect on the policies on the field of Energy proposed by the main political parties/blocks running for the 2009-2014 term at the European Parliament. Consulting the information made available on-line, either at home-pages, electronic leaflets or booklets, this series will look into the guidelines on Energy Policy that each party is proposing to euro-citizens.

Starting is the EPP-ED, the Christian-Democrat block that has held the largest number of seats at Strasbourg since the Assembly's first day.

EPP-ED is a congregation of regional Conservative or Cristian-Democrats parties plus a few scattered Liberal parties. Most of these parties are used to be rotatively in power at state level and can be seen as the largest molders of what the European Union is today. With the largest electoral  base, both at state- as at union-level, the party is also home to the ideas behind most of the policies and legislation put in place by the Commission and the Parliament.

An audio version of this log entry can be downloaded here

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The present Commission was shaped by the EPP-ED, largely influencing the name choice for Commissioner positions. Commission President, José Manuel Durão Barroso, although a Liberal, is a member of EPP-ED through his home state party - PPD/PSD - a Liberal party that has the largest militant base in Portugal.

The party's home-page is pleasant looking and well organized; although more focused in showing the work already made or in development by the parliamentary group. There's also an entire webpage solely dedicated to this year's election, a good place to know further the party's stance and the proposed programmes on other fields of action beyond energy.

It didn't take much time to find a booklet presenting the party's political guidelines for the 2009-2014 term. This booklet is very good, presenting not only the political programme but also a sum up of the party's ideology and its place at the present geo-political landscape. After messages from the group's parliamentary leaders comes a section that explains the values at the core of the party's ideology, of which the main section is worth to reproduce:

The  European Union needs  to update,  reassert and modernise its values: freedom, democracy equality, the rule of law, along with respect for human  rights,  including  those  of  minority  groups These values are common to all Member States, in a  society  characterised by pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between men and women.

The essential pillars of our political activity must be to safeguard family values - particularly  in  response  to  challenging  demographic  trends  and a  falling  birth  rate  -  and  to defend  freedom  of  education. After all, the  family  is the basic unit that enables people to overcome  crises,  help  each  other, and prepare for the future. Our policy  must  be  to  strengthen families, ensure inter-generational solidarity and the passing on of values and heritage. The  EPP-ED  Group  supports the laicism of the State, where this  is  a  positive  secularism that protects  freedom of religion  in a spirit of cooperation based on dialogue, mutual respect and reciprocal independence.

Economic  rights  are  not  secondary  rights.  They  must be  forcefully  reasserted.  Our Group believes  that  freedom of education, research, enterprise and competition are individual  rights and  the basis of  a  healthy  and  prosperous economy.  There  can  be  no justification  for  infringing these  rights, which must, on the  contrary,  be  further  enhanced.

The value of effort, work, ownership  and  saving  is  insufficiently  upheld. The  current reforms  aimed  at  reducing  the  burden  on  those wishing  to work, save and  invest must be continued.

A full page of this booklet is dedicated to Energy Policy, that his headed by the following title: Developing a coherent energy policy in the context of measures to combat climate change and sustainable development. The party's vision is resumed in a single paragraph:   

The  EPP-ED Group  supports  the  establishment of a diversified energy mix, promoting higher energy efficiency  in all activity sectors, the completion of the internal energy market and the development of a coherent foreign energy policy

And after it four strategic lines are laid down:

Towards a zero or low-CO emitting energy mix

The EPP-ED calls for:

  •  more  investment  in R&D for clean technologies such as  carbon  capture and  storage, hydrogen and methanol energy, biofuels, biogas and biomass, which will allow us to rely on  indigenous sources of energy in a sustainable way;

  • more  emphasis  on  clean  energy  technologies such as nuclear energy on the part of those States  that  favour  it,  the  use  of  clean  technology when using fossil fuels and the use of renewable wind, marine, solar and thermal energies;

  • large-scale renovation of the cities  (building stock, district heating systems, public transport);

  • increased  cooperation  and  dialogue  between Member States  in order to avoid drastic consequences  for  the price and quantity of  imported sources and for the overall  levels of the EU's CO2 emissions.

The first four elements put forward are CCS, hydrogen and methanol "energy" and biofuels, which are even called "indigenous sources of energy". A worst starting would be hard to imagine, leaving a lot to be desired for on the party's understanding of what is energy. A positive note goes for the reference to urban planning and its role in Energy Policy. Still, one can't stop thinking that these lines are simply a gathering of names that have a good echo with the press; yes, Nuclear is there, but lightheartedly, but only for those who want it.

Energy efficiency as a key driver of competitiveness and respect for the environment

Energy efficiency in all sectors represents the most cost-effective  and  rapid way  to  reduce  our  energy dependence on  imports, rationalise consumption  in households and  industry and drastically  reduce our CO2  emissions. This  requires  the  involvement of  all economic and social sectors.

The EPP-ED Group advocates:

  • fiscal  incentives for citizens and companies undertaking renovation works in the building sector and  for the purchase of energy efficient vehicles and appliances;  

  • providing users with accurate  information  so that they can rationalise their energy consumption, encouraging new technologies such as smart  meters in particular;

  • continuing  the  rapid  development  of  cogeneration  in  our  energy-intensive  industries  and  encouraging other sectors of industry to follow suit.

Things get better at this stage, the efficiency message is now well absorbed by the political class who understand how simple and light tactics can have an important impact in energy consumption (like the Labelling Directives). Naturally, one may or may not agree with specific tactics as fiscal incentives for vehicles substitution, but nonetheless, the election of Efficiency as a priority is quite welcome.

The internal energy market as enabler of  open competition, higher efficiency and  cost-reflective prices

Completion  of  the  internal  energy  market  is  essential to the success of our security of supply and environmental  goals.  However, many  obstacles  to the  free  movement  of  gas  and  electricity  within the EU still remain:  lack of  interconnection capacity between Member  States;  lack  of harmonisation  of basic technical rules; political protectionism; and the coexistence of  27 different  regulatory  frameworks.

The EPP-ED Group supports:  

  • further  technical  and  regulatory  harmonisation, placing all companies on a level playing field so that they can  serve customers  throughout  the Union, increase interconnection capacity, and create competition in isolated and closed-off areas;

  • setting  up  social  programmes  for  vulnerable sectors  of  society without  interfering with the market;

  • encouraging  a  truly  integrated  and  open market  in order  to ensure  that energy prices reflect actual  production  costs;  an  efficient  market  is also  essential  to  encourage  the  significant  investment necessary for the introduction of renewable energy sources.

Using rhetoric similar to that of the Commission, EPP-ED advocates that increasing the competition in the internal market can secure energy supplies from abroad and moreover, foster investment in renewables. On the later, Jérôme had the opportunity to explain just recently why this isn't the case. As for the former, why more competition between, say Portuguese and Spanish companies can bring more oil from, say Angola to Europe is something that only this party and the Commission seem to know - especially in the face of natural depletion. None of this goes at saying that liberalizing the internal market is an undesirable objective; while it's priority is mainly an ideological choice, it's effect on the problems Europe is facing today is largely limited.

Creating supportive energy diplomacy.

The  EU  represents more  than  500 million  consumers and  therefore needs  to establish a  real energy diplomacy.  

Solidarity mechanisms  need  to  be  established  between Member  States  in  case of  emergency  situations. The gas supply crisis over the past two years as well as the two EU-wide blackouts have demonstrated  the need  to  improve physical  interconnection  and  rapid  reaction mechanisms,  in  order  to avoid  the  potentially  critical  consequences  these events can have on the economy and on society.

Reading the header of this section one could even get the idea that the EPP-ED is proposing an European Foreign Minister/Ministry, but that's not exactly the idea. Nonetheless, solidarity and physical interconnection are some of the added strengths the Union can provide and their reference is welcome.

All in all, this programme doesn't differ much from what the Commission stood for during the term that now ends. The booklet's section on energy is close to a condensed version of the Commision's Energy Reviews. Being so, the same problems are present: it is understood that something is wrong, although not quite well what; the recipe: throw at it all that the hand can reach, well mixed with a liberalized internal market. It turns out that some of what is being thrown at the problem is actually lumber into the fire.

On a positive note is the attempt to build a thorough Energy Policy, composed by four strategic lines, submitted to an integrated vision. These strategies are not properly realised by concrete goals, which even at this level of contact with the broader public should be possible. A few tactics are put forward, that as explained above, do not exactly conform to the vision and strategies outlined. A sense of lack of commitment ends up emerging from the programme as a whole.

Calling CCS an "indigenous source of energy" is one of the most hilarious things ever present in a energy text.


Which partygroup comes next? PES?

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by A swedish kind of death on Thu May 7th, 2009 at 01:21:27 PM EST
Yes, PES is next, I'll take them from larger to smaller down to the Communists. Then I may have a final conclusion post.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Thu May 7th, 2009 at 01:48:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like what we'd call a center-right party (moderate republican) here in the US. Mentioning "family" values, however, is usually associated here with the far right, involving oppossition to same-sex marriage, abortion, and a liberal education, and an imposition of Christian values. Their emphasis seems lots more enlightened, stressing the societal advantages of family cooperation. Our right wing is much less sophisticated. (surprise, surprise)

The energy policies, with the emphasis on ethanol, are what passes for elightened energy policy in our mainstream. I suppose that's due to the enormous farming economy here, which looms not-quite-silently over such proposals.

This helps to place the EPP-ED somewhere in a political spectrum that I recognize, though I'm wondering just how bad my translation is.

Excellent diary, thanks.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri May 8th, 2009 at 06:55:53 AM EST
That translation is not that far off, I guess.

Mind here that EPP-ED is the conglomeration of two families:  EPP - the Popular party - and ED - European Democrats. ED is essentially a Liberal group; EPP, while still containing a few liberals, is quite close to the coastal flavours of the GOP.

There are many regional parties at the right of EPP-ED that usually dismiss the concept of a Union altogether. They remain as independents at Parliament.


by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]protonmail[dot]ch) on Fri May 8th, 2009 at 10:52:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For what do the initials "EPP-ED" stand?  I don't even know the language in which the name is stated.  I always find that helpful, for some reason.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 12th, 2009 at 10:25:09 PM EST
EPP-ED Group: Group Structure
Founded as the Christian Democrat Group on 23 June 1953 as a fraction in the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community, the Group changed its name to the "Group of the European People's Party" (Christian-Democratic Group) in July 1979, just after the first direct elections to the European Parliament, and to "Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats" in July 1999. It has always played a leading role in the construction of Europe.


With 288 Members the EPP-ED Group is by far the largest political Group in the European Parliament and the only political grouping with MEPs from all 27 Member States.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 02:08:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting article by Renard Sexton about the upcoming elections on 538.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 11:03:40 PM EST

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