A visit in the Embassy of the Hellenic Republic
The visit in the Embassy of the Hellenic Republic has been devoted to the issues of energy diplomacy, as the Greek diplomats wanted to share their experience with the participants of the fifth Akcja Dyplomacja and the members of the Foreign Affairs Club SGH.
As it has been noted, the energy cooperation is the very basis of the new Europe, with coal and steel union forming the foundations of the EU. The idea evolves though, with the notion of energy security being introduced with the Lisbon treaty. 2013 saw also the development of the energy union plan, proposed by then Polish PM Donald Tusk, but as it would require a common buying plan and common wholesale market, also interfering with competencies of several Directorate-Generals (competition, environment, climate, energy), the plan seems to be set aside for now.
The main ideas in the 2030 energy plan involve developments on the following issues: energy security, hardware (grid) and software (regulations) of European market, energy efficiency, decarbonizing and innovation and competitiveness research. The key to unlocking the full potential of the renewable sources is the storage, as it has been stated. One of the main weaknesses of the EU is still the lack of a single foreign policy, which would allow for the energy diplomacy to work in a uniform manner. EEAS is too weak to conduct it for the entire EU.
The other players in the game need to be well-identified and understood, so a study on the energy policies of Russia, Israel, Turkey, Turkmenistan or Azerbaijan is needed. The Greek counselor of the Embassy explained it on the example of Gazprom, which sets the prices accordingly to the dire needs, and so the UK benefits from the lowest prices. Unexpectedly, the Ukrainian crisis did not impede the gas transports at all, the diplomat stated. It is also believed that the critique of North Stream has no viable economic arguments, as the pipeline was the most cost-benefit reasonable; however, political arguments may be sound. Another interesting case is the Nabucco-West pipeline, which seemed a great investment and all the stakeholders were behind it a few years ago. But in the end the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) was the only project truly mature economically and so it has been chosen.
The diplomat hosting us stressed on numerous occasions that it is companies that build pipelines, not politicians (though they could under some circumstances). That is why the economic costs are often more important than politics. A doubt has been raised in the end if the enormous amounts of money should be spent on gas infrastructure, while renewable energies are still waiting for major breakthroughs. The Greek counselor finished our highly inspiring meeting by bringing up Naomi Klein leaving us with the idea that climate change is the greatest failure of the capitalist system.
Author: Jan Zygmuntowski