Correspondent's Choice

This story about EU energy policy was first published on EurActiv on 15th January 2010.

Germany’s Günther Oettinger, who has been nominated for the European Commission’s energy portfolio, sought to prove his European credentials at his confirmation hearing by outlining plans to enforce energy solidarity and spelling an end to bilateral energy deals with suppliers such as Russia.

The commissioner-designate eased through the cross-fire at the European Parliament by presenting a European vision of energy policy.

In future, energy supply contracts signed by individual member states with third countries would be replaced by European treaties, he said.

“I hope to win over the governments on this,” Oettinger said, stressing that that the EU should be in charge of negotiations.

Germany’s bilateral deal with Russia on the Nord Stream gas pipeline raised criticism in Poland and the Baltic states, which feared that Russia could then bypass pipelines that run through Poland. The outrage grew when former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who had pushed hard for the deal, joined Nord Stream’s board.

But Oettinger pledged to enforce the principle of solidarity on energy policy contained in the EU’s Lisbon Treaty so that no member state could be left disadvantaged. He said he was prepared to work with lawmakers on how binding solidarity measures could “work in practice”.

“I think it requires legal measures,” he confirmed in response to probes from members of the Parliament who wanted to hear concrete initiatives.

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