EU energy strategy envisages shared network

A gas pressure gauge indicating zero on the main pipeline from Russia in the village of Boyarka near Kiev, Ukraine, 3 January 2009
Image caption Last year's Russian gas crisis concentrated minds

EU energy strategy for the next decade envisages a shared gas and electricity supply network, and the renovation of draughty buildings to cut bills.

Unveiling "Energy 2020", Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger called for investment of 1tn euros (£0.9tn, $1.3tn) to "Europeanise energy policy".

Money would come from taxpayers and energy companies themselves.

The EU hopes a shared network will protect individual member states from disputes with suppliers such as Russia.

In January 2009, several EU states saw imports of Russian gas via Ukraine cut for up to three weeks.

"By 2015, no member state should be isolated," said a European Commission statement.

'Sustainable and secure'

Correspondents note that the plan for a shared network is nothing new, but it is significant that this has been endorsed by Mr Oettinger, a German, as his country previously lobbied hard to weaken legislation.

He proposed cutting through bureaucracy to speed up permits and reduce red tape.

"Putting our energy system on to a new, more sustainable and secure path may take time but ambitious decisions need to be taken now," Mr Oettinger said in a statement.

"To have an efficient, competitive and low-carbon economy we have to Europeanise our energy policy and focus on a few, but pressing, priorities.

"Over the next 10 years, overall energy infrastructure investments in the EU of 1tn euros are needed."

Incentives are planned to help homeowners and local authorities renovate draughty buildings to cut fuel bills.

Recent Commission documents show EU governments are failing to develop the full potential of their renewable energy resources and will fall halfway short of an agreed EU goal of improving energy efficiency by 20% by 2020.

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