Energy prices: the EESC calls for deeper EU integration
The Member States have to work together
"European coordination and cooperation are indispensable for both keeping prices in check and securing our energy supply", said Stephane Buffetaut in his opening statement. The same line was vigorously taken up by all participating stakeholders, from employers to employees via a range of civil society organisations, who complained that Europe's energy policy management lacks coherence and coordination. Many expressed their frustration at the Member States' competitive approach towards energy policy.
The Commission has to take the lead
The Commission representatives reiterated the existence of many different groups and platforms that have recently improved coherence in EU decision-making, such as the Gas and Electricity Coordination Groups and the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSOE) and for Gas (ENTSOG). Pierre-Jean Coulon accepted that there have been positive developments, but voiced his disappointment that the work of these groups remains fragmented and that almost no effort has been made to keep civil society in the loop: "Energy, climate and industrial policy have to be better aligned and based on realistic technological developments and statistical data", he said.
The EESC is the right body for coordinating a European Energy Dialogue
There are many reasons for involving people in the decision-making process: improving public acceptance of the changes involved in the low-carbon energy transition, tapping into the vast array of ideas expressed by non-experts, and reinvigorating the European venture through a truly participatory project that engages people and delivers tangible benefits. "A far-reaching, ambitious, coordinated programme of public engagement and involvement – a European Energy Dialogue (EED – has to be created, enabling action-oriented conversation within and across all Member States and providing policy-makers with the necessary input", outlined Richard Adams1 when announcing that the EESC is seeking to persuade the European Commission to take the lead in establishing this critical dialogue.
The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process. The Committee has 353 members from across Europe, who are appointed by the Council of the European Union.