Ladies and gentlemen,
The Stability Pact for Southeast Europe is a strong supporter of all on-going efforts for regional cooperation in the sector of energy, which is of critical importance for economic growth. The Energy Community Treaty, signed in Athens last October, is a milestone for regional cooperation. Its effective implementation will reflect the importance of SEE for international energy networks, as the signatories lie at the crossroads of energy production and consumption.
The reasons for the importance of the treaty are numerous and self evident, and let me just highlight the following points:
That energy efficiency is a pre-requisite for the attraction of FDI and sustaining current investments
That extensive investments are needed for energy infrastructure, which have to be planned on the basis of a regional approach for a production and distribution network, taking into account environmental concerns, and
That the need for investment in the sector will become more pressing in the near future, as Bulgaria will have to gradually shut down its nuclear units in Kozloduy; since plans for alternative power generation capacity (Maritza East and Belene) are behind schedule, a significant energy gap can be expected and Bulgaria could no longer be a regional net exporter of energy
The role of the Stability Pact is to complement on-going efforts by generating political support for the process. As such, our efforts are focused on ensuring cooperation for:
The reliability and security of regional energy systems
The development of the market for gas
Monitoring from the EU, in an effort to promote harmonization to the acquis in the field of energy
The safeguarding of environmental concerns
The signing of the Treaty for the Energy Community in SEE a few months ago has set an ambitious agenda not only for the signatories, but for all actors involved in the process for promoting regional ownership and growth – including donor countries, the European Union, and neighbouring countries, which have as much to gain as to offer from being actively engaged and committed for the fruition of the Energy Community.
I would like to thank you for your attention, and pass the floor to Mr. Renaud van der Elst, and Expert on energy of the Working Table II of the Stability Pact, who will outline the current 3 priorities of the Stability Pact:
The first area is the ratification of the Energy Community Treaty by local parliaments. We are monitoring the ratification process through our network of local Co-ordinators. If and when necessary, Special Co-ordinator Dr. Busek is ready to intervene to facilitate the process.
The second area relates to the socio-economic impact resulting from the Treaty. On the one hand, the restructuring of national energy companies will trigger lay-offs and, on the other hand, energy price hikes, new systematic billing and payment collection policies will cause affordability problems for the poorest segments of the population. The Stability Pact believes that social cohesion must underpin economic development and remains a key factor of stability in the region. Therefore, the Stability Pact will organise consultative workshops with trade unions in the jurisdiction of each Treaty contracting party to feed back the concerns of the trade unions into a Memorandum of Understanding on Social Issues.
The third area is the promotion of the Treaty to the business community.
Investment needs are so large that is necessary to involve the industrial investors and private banks ASAP. Consequently, the Stability Pact will organise two conferences:
The first one will be an Energy round table in Munich on 7-8 May. It is organised together with the Deutsches Ostforum München (DOM) and the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM).
And the second one will be an Investment Conference in Athens probably in the second half of the year. It will be organised together with the Greek government and the Commission. This conference will mainly consist in a matchmaking event between project owners and investors.
Thank for your attention.