EU energy ministers to discuss security of supply and economic recovery
On 28 April 2020, the EU energy ministers will meet to discuss the measures required to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic in the energy sector. The main points of view to be addressed at the informal Council meeting are strengthening security of supply, recovery from the acute crisis and measures to restore the economy. State Secretary Kimmo Tiilikainen will represent Finland at the video meeting on behalf of Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä.
Following the discussion on COVID-19, the Commission will provide an overview of the state of play of the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP) and long-term renovation strategies.
Strengthening security of supply in the energy sector
The Croatian Presidency’s discussion paper calls for solidarity between the Member States in guaranteeing security of supply. This means, in addition to dealing with a potential energy emergency, cooperation and mutual assistance between Member States in the prevention of crises. According to the Presidency, it is now time to consider preparedness measures for different scenarios.
A well-functioning energy sector is essential for society as a whole. With this in mind, Finland stresses the importance of preparedness in ensuring the continuity of essential functions for society, such as heating, communications and transport.
Finland calls attention to the principle of free movement, including in times of crisis. In particular, the cross-border movement of critical professions must be unimpeded even in these circumstances. Production plants need competent foreign labour, for example in connection with annual maintenance, and even smaller operators in the sector are partly dependent on foreign labour for tasks requiring specialised expertise. It must also be possible to ensure the availability of spare parts and other important components.
Energy sector to support the rapid and effective recovery of the EU
In addition to liquidity and investment aid, the Presidency’s discussion paper identifies three types of initiatives to promote recovery: 1) renovation wave, 2) renewable energy projects and essential infrastructure, and 3) the Just Transition Mechanism. The discussion paper asks how these initiatives could be used to help in the rapid and effective recovery of the EU area.
Finland notes that during the crisis, the Member States’ energy systems and the EU’s electricity and gas networks have mainly operated normally, which has ensured the operating conditions needed for healthcare and other sectors essential for society. A well-functioning energy market and the EU Energy Union will strengthen opportunities for the European economy to recover from the crisis.
Safeguarding a reliable operating environment in the energy sector is important for both security of supply and economic recovery. A cost-effective and low-emission energy system with a high level of security of supply is very important for the economy in a situation of high economic risks. Low prices for energy products on market terms reduce the costs for consumers and businesses, which contributes to the survival of the economy as a whole.
Public investments aiming to stimulate the economy must, as far as possible, be directed at projects that develop the energy system and industrial competitiveness in the long term and enable the achievement of ambitious climate objectives. Investments in energy efficiency are an example of measures that promote the economy in both the longer and shorter term.
The active development of the internal market for energy through network investments is a key way to increase the efficiency of the market, improve security of supply and promote the increasing use of renewable energy.
Crises typically lead to partial economic renewal and the creation and introduction of new business models. The EU must make long-term investments in research and innovation in the energy sector. These can include, for instance, investments in Power-to-X solutions, energy storage, digital energy solutions and the circular economy.
Riku Huttunen, Director-General, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 431 6518
Sanna Ek-Husson, Senior Specialist, Permanent Representation of Finland to the EU, Brussels, tel. +32 470 206 178
Eero Karjalainen, Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 501 7746
Nina Alatalo, Adviser to the Minister of Economic Affairs (EU and International Affairs), Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 431 8015