Solidarity is what Europe needs the most right now, said Pierre Jean Coulon - President of the Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN) to the European Economic and Social Committee. He made this statement yesterday at the conference in Sofia, which was organized jointly with the Economic and Social Council of Bulgaria. The topic “European Energy Union - Impact and Consequences for Civil Society in Bulgaria” gathered together participants from Bulgaria, Poland, Germany, Austria, France, Slovakia, Croatia, Spain, representatives of the European Economic and Social Committee, the European Commission and the Bulgarian Economic and Social Council, experts, business representatives, members of Parliament.
Solidarity was the word which all the participant at the conference adopted as a basic principle not only for solving energy issues in the Member States. According to the President of the TEN Section, in the field of energy solidarity should be shown on all levels - from the participants in generation, transmission, distribution and consumption of energy through solidarity in network construction and linkages to negotiations with “Gazprom”, which each country holds by itself.
He added that European countries should show solidarity in the efforts to combat energy poverty, because in our days 69 million Europeans could not pay their electricity bills and more solidarity was needed in the research and development work, in sharing ideas and innovation. Pierre Jean Coulon stressed that in Bulgaria was difficult the transition to energy market liberalization, not only because a change was needed in the current energy mix, but because of the inherited difficulties in contracting and regulations. He gave France as an example, where the energy market was fully liberalized two years ago.
The Deputy Minister of Energy Nikolay Nikolov in his speech stressed on the importance of the European Energy Union project for Bulgaria and its positive impact not only in the energy sector, but for the entire business and all citizens. He briefly presented the main projects in which Bulgaria was working towards more diversification, efficiency and infrastructure for energy products supply - development of interconnections between countries in the region, internal gas network and concept of creating “Balkan” gas distribution center in Bulgaria. The Deputy Minister Nikolov also highlighted that the Bulgarian government was rapidly working for the construction of interconnections with Greece, Romania and Turkey, as well as for the realization of interconnector with Serbia. Last but not least are the studies in the Black Sea shelf for own production, Mr. Nikolov said. He assured the participants at the conference that within a week a report by the World Bank was to be expected, which would recommend the most appropriate model of liberalization for Bulgaria.
The Chairman of Energy Regulator of the Republic of Bulgaria Ivan Ivanov drew the attention of the conference to transparency and regulation in the process of energy market liberalization. He stated that the regulator had four well-defined goals - free and competitive market, transparent and clear regulatory framework, stable energy companies and measures against the energy poverty.
During the conference the Economic and Social Council shared that it was in a process of elaborating a new act on the impact of the European Energy Union for the civil society in Bulgaria. One of the co-rapporteurs on the draft resolution was Vasil Velev who made a detailed analysis of errors and gaps in the policies and practices in Bulgaria and summed them up as an appeal “do not do like us”. The other co-rapporteur on the draft resolution Dimitar Manolov drew attention to a number of social aspects of the energy market liberalization and called for the implementation of best practices and rapid measures against energy poverty.