MEP Ramona Mănescu (PPE) held a speech at the Romania ENERGY DAY 2015 – “Energy Union: Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Energy in Central and South East Europe” event at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Excerpt out of the speech:
I am honoured to have been invited to participate to the Romania ENERGY DAY Conference. I consider it a very good event, especially because it has a direct focus on Romania.
I would like to congratulate the Romanian Energy Centre for organising this event, which is already at its fourth edition this year and I hope that all our efforts and all the efforts that the European Union is doing will bring positive visible results for Romania and its people.
It is a great pleasure for me to be here and to share with you my view regarding the challenges and Investment opportunities in the energy sector.
As a Member of the AFET Committee within the European Parliament, I would also like to underline the connection between the Energy Security and Foreign Policy, because they work together, they are strongly connected!
I would like to use the opportunity to bring into discussion the connection between the main topic of this event: Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Energy and the focus of the present session: Facilitating investments and security in indispensable Electricity Infrastructure.
I strongly believe that currently, the challenges are exactly the ones that are driving the opportunities for the future and these opportunities are represented by investments in all the aspects of energy infrastructure.
Romania is placed on the World Map at the intersection of several economic axes that are also geo-political ones, connecting Western Europe with Eastern Europe and further with Asia. Out of these axes, the one favouring the most Romania from an energy perspective is the maritime one, especially the Caspian Sea – Black Sea one.
In this enlarged area, geo-historically, Romania had a stabilizing and securing role, playing a defensive or gate of offensive role in some moments or a unifying role in others. With this roles assumed, and knowing the EU has already recognized for some years the strategic role of South Caucasus for its energy interests Romania is capable to maximize its position. Having a strong competition coming from Bulgaria and Turkey for the position of transit country in the European effort of diversifying energy sources, Romanian goals can only be achieved by a very active diplomacy on bilateral relations. This can bring that much needed advantage point that later translates into energy infrastructure projects.
Energy infrastructure development, according with the objectives set by the Energy Roadmap 2050 involves both a replacement/modernisation of the outdated segments and building new interconnections, needed for a Unique Energy Market.
All this new investments must be done using modern technologies, with low carbon emissions, this way assuring their long run in good conditions.
Also, we must not forget that such investments of updating the infrastructure with the new standards, are involving costs. These costs will imply upon industries, bringing new costs for the companies and lowering their competitiveness comparative with other entities from the rest of the world.
Energy sources diversification is another goal of Energy Roadmap 2050. This will assure us that hydrocarbons exporters will not use their capacities as a politico-strategic weapon.
The main challenges in promoting energy projects are:
• bringing together in a unitary and consistent opinion all the countries that are part of an energy project path
• securing the financing for such projects
It must be added that any energy project has a strategic meaning in addition to the commercial one.
And here is where it comes the opportunity of investments, infrastructure development and research in the area of producing, transporting and supplying of energy with a double target:
- stabilizing a whole region by offering alternatives and opportunities
- assuring long term energy security and sustainability by multiplying and diversifying energy sources and offering a predictable market for this supply
Romania is a country that I am proud to say that is present in the World statistics as the first country to have an industrial production of crude oil. The oil production is followed closely by the whole oil industry, research, infrastructure and then the horizontal industry, like the petro-chemical one. The international demand of energy resources is one of the reasons why today Constanta is the biggest port at the Black Sea and a major energetic hub for the whole European Union.
Romanian experience helps me to understand the complicated but strong connections between energy, resources, security, economic development, regional stability, political relations and conflicts.
Also, I can see a clear picture of a country that once was a major oil exporter but, under the pressure of the continuous reducing of natural reserves, evolved to a new stage where it invested in nuclear energy and has a long term nuclear program, developed a whole industry of renewable resources, from research to production and big Aeolian or photo-voltaic farms, and used its broad knowledge in hydrocarbons extraction, transport and storage to become an energy hub for a region where energy security is now the strongest diplomatic tool.
I believe that under the global discussion about energy security, combined with the pressure coming from the assumed goals of sustainability and reduced pressure over the climatic system, energy production in the shape of fossil fuels was, is and it will continue to be an engine that will assure the future development and stability.
The opportunities offered by the renewable energies in terms of research, production, implementation and operation are just starting to uncover.
This is where EU countries have a head start that can be turned into opportunities for cutting edge companies. I know a lot of Romanian companies capable to start from an idea and finish with a fully functional investment in areas like energy efficiency or renewable energy production. Also, I know some Romanian companies very active in research and innovation, that maybe are not as famous as Tesla, but that are capable to bring to life really amazing projects in areas that are harnessing wind or solar energy.
Interconnectivity of various energy transport and storage systems, that is more and more needed, offers another opportunity of investments, jobs creation and sustainability. Some good examples are the on-going and future projects of connecting the gas and oil resources, recently discovered in the Black Sea, through the hub offered by the Constanta Port, with the high demand coming from countries that are massively dependant on Russian exports.
These opportunities can take the European experience in renewable energies into new geographical areas and bring back here, on the EU territory, reliable sources and capacities of traditional fuels as fossil fuels.
I believe that the recent European Energy Security Strategy that the European Commission has released which outlines the framework for improved energy security, can be the fundament for future investments and opportunities on a large scale.
The EU Institutions are developing a European Energy Policy which aims first of all to ensure freedom, security and growth in Europe.Romania is the 7th country in size in Europe. It has a big potential that must be harnessed and in its efforts EU can significantly contribute in the benefit of all.
Foreign companies, interested in develop energy projects in South-East Europe, can take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Romanian economic environment.
The privatisation process, opening and deregulation of the internal market, together with the connections at regional level makes Romania a very profitable choice.
Following the approval process for the Energy Union Strategy and the profound regional shifts, Romania has the chance to promote its projects within EU financing schemes, in the benefit of both EU market and regional stability.
A good example could be EU – Turkmenistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement that still waits a green light from the European Parliament. Being the rapporteur on this document I can see the potential for both sides from an energy point of view if such an agreement becomes a reality. On one hand, EU weans off from the dependence on Russian gas. On the other, Turkmenistan gains a reliable, predictable and stable partner which helps an economy that is more and more dependent on its incomes from hydrocarbons.
This cannot be done only by EU itself. Member States, based on bilateral relations, can set the cornerstone for future development. I mention this because such a need has the potential to become a major opportunity for Romania which is positioned in the right place, has a good infrastructure of gas pipelines and keeps on expanding its interconnections.
Common goals can also bring constructive answers to questions like the Russia role in this equation or the Iranian issue. They can also represent a long term basis for economic development, which, in return, is capable to support regional stability and security.
Energy infrastructure: pipes or cables that are crossing the borders or the water routs that are crossing straits and national waters today, have the power to unite or to disrupt, to bring well-being and development or cause conflicts and chaos.
I am very optimistic and I think that we have in front of us a huge potential. I can see it and I am certain that through meetings, like the one of today, we will manage to understand it better. I trust that our goals will have fruitful results: peace, prosperity and sustainability.
As a conclusion, we can all agree, that important own resources, perfect positioning and a serious infrastructure – Romania can redraw Europe’s energy map.
MEP Vasile Blaga: The last day with Great Britain in the EU, the first day of a new relationship that we want to be close
Great Britain, the historical partner of the EU, leaves our table but remains a friend of the European Union, said MEP Vasile Blaga in a statement sent to CaleaEuropeană.ro.
December 31 is the last day on which the UK still applies Community law, and from January 1 the Brexit agreement will be applied, having already been signed by European officials.
“There are a few more steps for this agreement, concluded in extremis, on Christmas Eve: the evaluation of the agreement by the European Parliament, the British Parliament and its ratification by the Parliaments of all Member States,” said Blaga.
“We are talking about an extremely important agreement given that official figures show that over 3 million EU citizens live in the UK and over one million Britons live in one of the 27 Member States. The agreement has been worked on, and often on the brink of collapse, by a team led by Michel Barnier who deserves congratulations for the tenacity with which he defended the rights of European citizens and European companies. It is an unprecedented agreement, no other such agreement has been concluded by the EU so far, from a commercial and economic point of view. Basically, the historical partner of the EU leaves our table but remains a friend of the EU. Because not even a democratic vote can cancel a family relationship and a history like the one between Europe and Great Britain “, declared Vasile Blaga.
MEP Vasile Blaga: “A coordinated vaccination campaign at European level, an example of unity and solidarity”
MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, PPE) welcomes the start of the vaccination campaign at the same time in the European Union.
„The debut of the European level vaccination campaign, which is more or less simultaneous in all European Union states, has not been able to mobilize the EU to be able to provoke the annulment of all countries.” It is clear that you are critical of the address of the module in the European Commission to manage the contracting seminar with vaccines, tattoos, but through care, the moment of this moment, the functioning of the European Union, according to the European Plan.
The European MP informed Romania about the 150,000 vaccine dose of Pfizer BioNtech: „The European Commission has allocated 10 million vaccine doses for Romania to COVID 19″, said Vasile Blaga.
Op-ed: Biden can help unite Europe. A closer political union is the rational outcome for Europe, and a globalist U.S. President can assist even passively
A closer political union is the rational outcome for Europe, and a globalist U.S. President can assist even passively, writes former Romanian PM Mihai-Răzvan Ungureanu, in a joint op-ed with two US experts. The op-ed released to CaleaEuropeană.ro is published as an epistemic response to a piece authored by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Klaus Leggewie in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung calling for a German-French Federation as a “breath of fresh air” for Europe.
By Robert Braun, Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu and Dan Perry
The incoming Biden Administration is expected to break with its predecessor’s obsessively transactional foreign policy, enabling progress on issues ranging from global warming to international trade to human rights. An important consequence, not obvious from headlines at the moment, involves Europe.
Outgoing President Trump’s evident disdain for global cooperation, supranational governance and the European Union in particular has had a devastating effect on those who yearn for greater European political union. It emboldened the UK’s Brexiteers, Euroskeptic leaders in the east and nationalists in almost every country, creating a paralytic continental bad karma. Trump’s departure holistically offers a moment for the European Union to regain its ambition, boldness and creativity.
The EU embodied a successful economic vision, but failed to transform that business case into a shared political values to an extent that could drive action. The treaties of Maastricht and Rome ultimately amounted the rhetorical flourishes and bureaucratic advances that could not sweep aside nationalist resistance. This is now best exemplified by the Polish-Hungarian effort to derail the European budget and halt political oversight over individual countries’ authoritarian practices.
If Europe is to make its mark in the world, it needs a bold vision for political union: tighter control over exploitive and corrupt practices of local and multi-national companies, an inclusive social net with universal basic income, a welfare system socially and economically strengthening unions and representation bodies, and safeguards for the independence of the free press, of universities and of civic-cultural institutions.
A unified Europe can be a beacon of progressive values and modernity to the world. This should be the response to those in the world who derided Europe as an ossified vessel of yesterday while benefitting from its values.
This will strengthen Europe, and make it a better partner to a rejuvenated, post-Trump United States – and to other democracies. It is a vision that the new U.S. Administration will be able to get behind.
Of course, this is not currently the direction of things, nor will it be without an electrifying course correction. In theory, there would be a variety of ways to shock the system. We’d like to throw our support in favor of constitutional unification of Germany and France, an idea floated recently by French MEP and 1960s student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit and German political scientist Claus Leggewie.
France and Germany have fought bitter wars, and can view each other through a narrow lens of stereotype and historical grievance. They have different labor market politics and instincts about fiscal and monetary policy. They speak different languages, and each possesses a profound patriotic instinct that may seem at odds with a ceding of national sovereignty. France is also more interested than Germany in a European security mechanism independent of the United States.
And they both have fostered business interest, sometimes at the expense of others in the European Union, that were grounded in “nation first” ideals.
And yet, France and (West) Germany are the two largest founding members of the European Economic Community that grew into the EU of today. The differences between their political and economic structures are minor when one considers their common fealty to Western and European values of the post-Renaissance and Enlightenment. They are also the two strongest forces for political union among major EU members; there is a scenario where they agree to blaze the path.
A constitutionally unified, politically strong core would create economies of scale – combined population of 151 million and GDP of 6.73 trillion that make up 40% and 44% respectively of the bloc with the UK factored out – that would be irresistible, and prove that language need not be a barrier in a world in which English (ironically in light of Brexit) and innovation are unifying forces.
Different languages may pose a challenge. But Canada, even with succession initiatives in Quebec, proves community and understanding are more about shared values than similar languages. Respect for different cultures and strong compassionate leadership are at the core of New Zealand’s political success. There is real reason to assess that a successful Franco-German unification would soon draw in an essentially liberal and internationalist countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark, linguistic satellites like Austria and Luxembourg, and then large countries of the southern cone like Italy, Spain and Portugal.
What of former east bloc countries where populist nationalists currently hold sway? The euphoria of expansion was driven by both idealism and business interests, and while it yielded economic growth for the East it also left many in that region with resentments about a perceived neocolonialism, yielding a nationalist backlash. Deft political diplomacy and considerable sensitivity will be required to avoid a repeat. A strong European political union may create the political momentum to rejuvenate a progressive urban electorate in Eastern Europe as well. Western European politicians should also find ways to acknowledge that peoples east of Vienna are valuable beyond picking asparagus, caring for the elderly and doing menial jobs for less.
It seems far-fetched today. Nations tend to wait for crises to break established paradigms. We propose getting ahead of the curve. Germany and France can jump-start the process of European unification.
National identity – indeed tribalism – has been one of the building blocks of civilization. The question has always been granularity. Right now, what is needed for stability, prosperity and global impact is a European identity. It won’t be easy, because local identities are strong. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. Quite probably, very much lost.
* * *
Historian Mihai Razvan Ungureanu was prime minister and foreign minister of Romania. Social Theorist Robert Braun was a top aide to Hungary’s prime minister and is a senior researcher at Vienna’s Institute for Advanced Studies. Dan Perry was Europe-Africa Editor and Mideast Editor of the Associated Press news agency and is managing partner of the Thunder11 communications firm.
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