Briefing to Parliamentarians - Post Lisbon: How to achieve coherence between energy security and development policies

The panel: Ruchita Beri , Jacqueline Hale, Bram Büscher and Fiona Hall

On 9 February 2011, a Briefing Session for Parliamentarians and Policy Makers took place within the framework of the EDC 2020 project, with a focus on perspectives for better coherence between energy security and development polices of the European Union following the Lisbon Treaty. Read the full programme

The session was introduced by Richard Youngs, Director General, FRIDE, mentioning the three main themes explored by the EDC 2020 project: (i) New actors, (ii) Energy security, democracy and development and (iii) Climate change.  Key issues to be explored in this briefing for policy-makers would be to estimate the effectiveness of the EU in articulating coherence between policies, to examine tradeoffs between energy and development policies.

Jos van Gennip, Richard Youngs

In this context, the need for policy and politically relevant research was emphasized by Philippe Keraudren, DG Research. Acknowledging the critical overview provided by EDC 2020 researchers on the difficulties faced by the EU in combining energy and development, Mr. Keraudren stated that policy learning should be improved continuously and Member States’ actions on policy coherence should be better coordinated.

Jos van Gennip, SID European Programme, advocated for a triangle approach in achieving policy coherence: national politics, research, and EU decision-making. The key factor in this process would be to facilitate stronger engagement of national parliaments in reaching the agreed targets.

The briefing session followed with a key-note speech by Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development. Stating that the EU development policy is challenging both from external and internal perspectives at large caused by intergovernmental differences, the Commissioner expressed the need for more research and scientific evidence to assess and prevent risks. Perturbations in development such as spikes in oil prices, gas crises urge for a fast reaction from the donor community to assure timely money transfer to developing countries before actual crises arise.

Andris Piebalgs

‘’Energy is the sector where we have a possibility to build everything from scratch’’ said Mr. Piebalgs. The initiative however will not come from industries due to uncertainties in their investments and unpromising profits. Improvements should be driven politically, assuming responsibility for part of the risks and addressing security problems. A comprehensive strategy is needed based on smaller scale renewable energy solutions, without excluding more ambitious projects. ‘’We should make renewable energy a trademark of European development policy’’, stated the Commissioner.

Emphasizing the responsibility of Member States to raise official development assistance (ODA) to 0.7% of donors' national income at least on a gradual basis, Mr. Piebalgs focused on the need for objectives such as providing access to electricity for all households. 

During the discussion following his keynote address, Mr. Piebalgs underlined the EU’s political engagement with governments in the process of providing a fair distribution of wealth. Providing photovoltaic energy to remote villages in Latin American represents a successful example in this context.

On the issue of African land rights and loss of biodiversity as a result of land-grabbing, Mr. Piebalgs mentioned that since agricultural investments are important, there needs to be much more transparency put in place, assuring that all deals signed on land are published accordingly and to support household farmers.

Concerning the January 2011 African Union Summit, the Commissioner mentioned two key points: (i) the African Union Commission has obtained much more recognition in the 53 African states; (ii) however there is a strong need for more focus and actual delivery based on realistically set objectives.

Fiona Hall

The session continued with a multi-stakeholder panel chaired by Fional Hall, MEP, European Parliament. Ms. Hall underlined the Lisbon Treaty’s success in giving the EU competence on energy and policy coherence, thus providing a better framework for various policies.

Bram Büscher, Lecturer at Institute of Social Studies, gave a presentation on the political economy of the EU energy-development nexus. The main conclusions deriving from Mr. Büscher’s research are linked to the existence of increasingly more profound contradictions between the rich and the poor, the attention and funding for the environment, increased research in degradation and biodiversity loss, between the focus on energy efficiency and continuous energy use. These contradictions however are not covered enough in policy documents such as the European Consensus on Development, which affects the effectiveness of tackling certain development and energy issues. 

Jacqueline Hale, Senior Policy Analyst, EU External Relations at Open Society Foundation, discussed the compatibility of the EU energy security  and development policies in the Caspian region. Ms. Hale stated that stronger focus should be given to governance and transparency, considering that energy security and development has a negative correlation in the Caspian. Main challenges in this region are related to the lack of redistribution of gains in the energy sector, elite corruption, poor governance, large discrepancy between higher state revenues and low social development indicators. The lack of conditionality on energy relations between the EU and the Caspian is a significant drawback, stressed Ms. Hale. Further progress should be made on: (i) achieving policy coherence for development in practice; (ii) achieving coherence between regions taking into account geopolitical concerns in Central Asia; and (iii) achieving greater transparency within the extractive and non-extractive industries, international accounting standards and budgeting. 

Ruchita Beri, Senior Research Associate, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, explored (i) the African perspective on the changes in EU policies; (ii) India-Africa cooperation in the energy field; and (iii) the future cooperation between the EU and emerging powers in the African context.  Ms Beri mentioned the accelerated engagement of India and China in Africa perceived as a threat to the EU, securitized development caused by migration from North Africa and the decrease of EU’s priorities in Africa in the future. Secondly, a major element of India’s expanded relations to African countries constitutes oil imports (16.5%). However, India’s cooperation with Africa goes beyond energy and includes economic, educational and technical inputs at the same time. Lastly, the difficulty in establishing mutually beneficial multilateral agreements between the EU and the emerging powers should be acknowledged, especially considering negotiation deadlocks in climate change and development.

During the discussion participants commented on the need for greater internal coordination within EU member states; transparency in aid and energy policies and diversification of supply as key variables; and greater focus on local content and skills development was mentioned as a primary difference between the Indian and Chinese approach in Africa.     

Richard Youngs, Director General, FRIDE, outlined in conclusion the key policy recommendations resulting from the research undertaken in the framework of the EDC 2020 project: (i) progress has been made particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where energy security and development are more interconnected; (ii) the missing link between energy and development is the area of governance in many producer states; (iii) the shift has to be made from focusing on the ‘hardware’ (pipelines, contracts etc) to focus on the ‘software’ (the good governance of energy resources) of energy security, (iv) the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative’s (EITI) potential should be better explored.

Session report by Aurélien Lafon and Ludmila Ceban


The final conference of the European Development Cooperation to 2020 project (EDC 2020) took place the following day on 10 February 2011 in Brussels. Read more and listen to the presentations


Keynote speech by Andris Piebalgs : Post Lisbon: How to achieve coherence between energy security and development policies
Main results of the EDC 2020 energy security, democracy and development work package by Richard Youngs

EDC 2020: Key Messages

EDC 2020 Publications