France, Germany push for EU power policy coordination

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France and Germany want European Union members to create a forum to bolster power policy cooperation in the 27-nation bloc, French Energy Minister Eric Besson said Tuesday after talks in Poland.

"Along with the German energy ministry, we have proposed the creation of a European electricity coordination group, made of up network operators, regulators and representatives of member states," Besson said after a meeting of EU energy ministers in the southwestern Polish city of Wroclaw.

"The idea is that this group of experts will be called in systematically in the case of national projects which could have a significant impact on other countries, and on supply and demand in other countries," Besson told reporters.

Besson said other member states had backed the idea, and that EU energy chief Guenther Oettinger was likewise in favour.

Current EU president Poland has made coordinating energy policy one of its priorities.

The power market is in flux after Germany decided in March to close eight of its oldest nuclear reactors immediately and to shut nine others by the end of 2022.

Berlin acted in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster, which has sparked concerns about the wisdom of nuclear energy.

"The Germans have the right to decide to quit nuclear power, but the consequences of the move will be European consequences," Besson said.

"What would not be acceptable would be that our German friends decide alone to ditch nuclear power and that the consequences of that move would be shared financially at the European level," he added.

"All of us need to be able to anticipate what our colleagues do on the energy front," he said.

Besson underlined that each EU member should have a long-term energy investment programme, have an idea which "energy mix" it aimed to achieve, and kept other nations in the picture.

Poland and other EU countries that formerly lay behind the Iron Curtain have long pushed for better power links with Western Europe.

The former Soviet-ruled Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, meanwhile, are trying to end their status as "energy islands" in the EU, with few links to the rest of the bloc.

Lack of coordination in the energy market has in the past sparked spats between some ex-communist countries and Germany, which faced criticism for striking a gas pipeline deal with Russia that sidelined them.

© 2011 AFP

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