Saturday, 17 January 2009

EU Law: Energy policy and action

What has the European Community (European Union) been able to do in the area of energy, before the Lisbon Treaty or a later treaty creates a specific policy area and a legal base for legislation according to the ordinary legislative procedure?

We present some materials on and links to EU energy policy, an area as hot as any right now, but also of fundamental strategic importance for the future of Europe.


European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)

Energy was present at the birth of institutionalised European integration in the shape of the first Community, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which was proposed by the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman. The Schuman Declaration of 9th May 1950 is the reason why 9 May is commemorated annually as Europe Day. The ECSC Treaty was concluded for 50 years, and it expired in July 2002.



There were two Treaties of Rome, signed in March 1957. One was the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), which with a broader scope became the European Community (EC). Nowadays official papers and some lawyers seem to be the only ones who remember that there is such an entity. In daily use the European Union has become the main concept, under which the European Community has been subsumed as part of the so called first pillar (Community pillar). The Lisbon Treaty would officially integrate the European Union, which would take over the legal personality of the EC.

The second Treaty of Rome was the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom), which still functions, although it is rarely heard of.

The Commission’s Scadplus web page Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) offers an overview of the treaty and the aims of Euratom:


Euratom Treaty

During the course of more than five decades, the various treaty reforms have led to technical adaptations of the Euratom Treaty, but it has not been substantially reformed.

Euratom: Lisbon Treaty Declaration

This was pointed out in a Declaration attached to the Treaty of Lisbon, Declaration 54 by the Federal Republic of Germany, Ireland, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Austria and the Kingdom of Sweden:

Germany, Ireland, Hungary, Austria and Sweden note that the core provisions of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community have not been substantially amended since its entry into force and need to be brought up to date. They therefore support the idea of a Conference of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, which should be convened as soon as possible.


Selected Euratom activities

The General Report on the Activities of the European Union 2007 offers some information about the activities of Euratom:

The European Atomic Energy Community has its own Seventh Framework Programme for Research:

The seventh Euratom framework programme came into force on 1 January 2007 and will end on 31 December 2011. It covers research activities on fusion energy, nuclear fi ssion and radiation protection, the details of which are set out in a specific programme. In 2007 Estonia, Cyprus and Malta became members of the European Fusion Development Agreement, and are now invited to create transnational research units with other Euratom associations. Estonia has already created a research unit with Euratom’s Finnish association. A further specifi c programme deals with the Joint Research Centre’s nuclear activities.

On 27 March the Council adopted a decision establishing a joint European undertaking for ITER and the development of fusion energy. It will manage the contribution of the European Atomic Energy Community to the ITER International Fusion Energy Organisation. (Decision 2007/198/Euratom, OJEU 30.3.2007 L 90).


Energy policy: sources

General Report

The General Report on the Activities of the European Union 2007 serves as a general introduction to energy policy in general and concerning specific energy sectors (page 84 to 88). (We can expect the 2008 General Report fairly soon.)

With its overviews of policy areas and its references to relevant documents the latest General Report is an excellent source for interested persons.

EU Bulletin

The Bulletin of the European Union documents the main events during the year in monthly instalments. The latest final version covers September 2008 (published 19 December 2008; page 84 to 86), but provisional versions with Section 25 Energy concerning October and November (published 18 December 2008) are also available here:


Energy legislation

The Commission’s Scadplus web page Energy offers links to different aspects and sectors of energy policy, European energy policy, Internal energy market, Energy efficiency, Renewable energy, Nuclear energy and Security of supply, external dimension and enlargement, as well as the topical Tackling climate change:


Commission activities

The home page of the Commission’s Directorate-General Energy and Commissioner Andris Piebalgs offers an overview of the latest news and events as well as links to both general policy issues and sectoral information:


EU Council

Energy crisis: Russia and Ukraine

The Energy Ministers of the European Union met in an extraordinary Council meeting 12 January 2009 and reached the following conclusions on the interruption of gas supplies from Russia via Ukraine:

The Ministers called on Russia and Ukraine to resolve their dispute, and recalled the efforts of the Czech Council Presidency to mediate, but the Conclusions also reflect a growing awareness of the need for strategic European action in order to improve the supply of energy and the functioning of the energy markets.


European Parliament

One of the latest press releases from the European Parliament ahead of the debate on energy issues last Wednesday underlined the concerns of the MEPs:


Lisbon Treaty: Declaration 35

The previous blog post presented the new Title XXI Energy and the new Article 194 TFEU. The intergovernmental conference annexed the following joint Declaration (No 35) to the Lisbon Treaty:

35. Declaration on Article 194 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

The Conference believes that Article 194 does not affect the right of the Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure their energy supply under the conditions provided for in Article 347.


Although Declaration 35 states that the member states have a right to take necessary measures, the thrust of Article 347 TFEU is to invite the member states to consult with each other and to find common solutions in case of serious disturbances:

Article 347 TFEU
(ex Article 297 TEC)

Member States shall consult each other with a view to taking together the steps needed to prevent the functioning of the internal market being affected by measures which a Member State may be called upon to take in the event of serious internal disturbances affecting the maintenance of law and order, in the event of war, serious international tension constituting a threat of war, or in order to carry out obligations it has accepted for the purpose of maintaining peace and international security.


Growing awareness

There is growing awareness that the European Union needs to move quickly and decisively on energy policy in order to enhance energy supply and security, to secure alternative sources and supply routes and to improve interconnection between national energy markets.

Quick ratification of the Lisbon Treaty would improve the decision-making capacity of the European Union and promote the much needed spirit of solidarity between the member states and EU citizens.

The ratification is one action of solidarity the Czech Republic and Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski should accomplish without delay. The Irish people should join in as soon as they are given the chance, for the sake of Europe’s future and Ireland’s future in Europe.

Ralf Grahn