The European Union’s national leaders will promise to leave no corner of the bloc without secure energy supplies, when they meet for a one-day summit in Brussels today (4 February). The national leaders will also promise greater efforts to support scientists and innovative companies.
“No EU member state should remain isolated from the European gas and electricity networks after 2015 or see its energy security jeopardised by lack of the appropriate connections,” states a recent draft of the leaders’ communique seen by European Voice. The leaders will ask the European Commission to report by June on the level of public investment required. Although no figures are in the draft conclusions, a Commission study last year put the total public and private cost of new energy infrastructure at €1 trillion by 2020.
Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, said on Wednesday (2 February) that energy and innovation policy were “of paramount importance for our future”.
‘Single market of brains’
The EU “must achieve a fully integrated competitive European energy market with regulations and closely linked infrastructure connections,” he said. “By 2015, no EU member state should remain an energy enclave. Inside the EU, everybody should
be connected to everybody.”
Van Rompuy called on the EU’s national leaders to create a “single market of brains” through a single European research area. “We must urgently invest in our talent,” he said, which would boost job creation and stimulate growth.
Over lunch, leaders will discuss a comprehensive package of measures on strengthening the eurozone. They include tougher economic governance rules, changes to the way the eurozone’s rescue fund operates, the operation of a future permanent rescue fund and stress tests for banks.
- 10:00 European leaders meet Jerzy Buzek, European Parliament President
- Family photo
- 13:00 Lunch: the economic situation, Egypt and Tunisia
- 15:30 Innovation policy
- 17:30 Final press conferences
- Ensure that the EU internal market, allowing gas and electricity to flow freely, is complete by 2014.
- Commission to propose figures on how to finance energy projects in June, including ideas on how to attract funding for projects that are important for security of supply but not attractive for private investors.
- More effort to meet energy-efficiency target of 20% improvement by 2020 promised, but no binding target.
- Complete European Research Area, to make it easier for researchers to cross borders, by 2014.
- European Commission to propose measures by end of year to stimulate a venture-capital market.
Leaders will not agree these measures at the summit. They will be finalised at the next summit being held on 24-25 March.
EU diplomats say another summit could be called before then, in early March, although the purpose of the meeting is unclear. Some sources say it could be to agree new terms for Ireland’s €67.5 billion bailout once a new government has been formed after the elections on 25 February. Irish opposition parties are calling for the terms of the package to be renegotiated.
At the summit, Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, and Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president, will set out their ideas for a “competitiveness pact” which would bind EU member states to co-ordinate their economic and fiscal policies more closely. The ideas include a limit on the maximum debt levels, common retirement ages and tax co-ordination.
Leaders will discuss innovation policy in the afternoon session. The Commission wants to get political buy-in for business-friendly innovation policy, targeted at big social and environmental challenges, such as climate change, food security and ageing populations.
The leaders are expected to endorse ideas aimed at making it easier for researchers to work in other EU countries, by completing the ‘European Research Area’ by 2014. Another promise is to spend more of the public procurement budget on buying innovative products and services.
Egypt and Tunisia
But a large part of leaders’ time is expected to be taken up with a discussion on the measures to ensure stability in the eurozone and the events in Egypt and Tunisia.
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