EU energy ministers agree to establish Euro-Mediterranean platform

Energy ministers agree in principle to bring together policy makers, industrial representatives, regulators and energy stakeholders to assist in the development of a roadmap on gas

Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi and EC vice-president Gunther Oettinger addressing the press
Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi and EC vice-president Gunther Oettinger addressing the press

Energy Ministers across the European Union agreed in principle to establish a Euro-Mediterranean platform on gas that would bring together policy makers, industrial representatives, regulators and energy stakeholders.

The agreement was announced this morning by Malta’s energy minister Konrad Mizzi following a meeting of the energy ministers, chaired by Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger.

Ministers from the EU, North Africa and East Mediterranean were in Malta for a two-day conference on energy co-hosted by Malta and Cyprus.

Announcing the agreement to journalists gathered at the Intercontinental Hotel, Mizzi said ministers sought to identify ways to create the right environment for gas investments.

In view of the wider geopolitical events that could have implications on energy security, the EU is putting further impetus on its supply diversification objects.

As the North African and Eastern Mediterranean countries look to develop their and economies and meet increasing domestic energy demand, Malta seeks to tap into the opportunity to establish itself as the bridge connecting North Africa to Europe.

“Two opportunities that arose in the North African corridor and the Eastern corridor provides the perfect opportunity for Malta and Cyprus,” Mizzi said.

Oettinger said Malta had the perfect geo strategic location between the North and South countries, and being a close neighbour, Malta can prove to be the perfect trading country.

The ministers discussed the possibility of this platform playing a key role in the creation of a Mediterranean Gas Hub.

The Euro-Med platform should also ensure greater convergence between the policies of the various countries and contribute to the ongoing efforts aimed at enhancing Europe’s energy security and at meeting specific 2030 interconnection objectives.

The further elaboration on the modus operandi of the platform will be discussed in the coming months with a view to establishing a fully fledged proposal to be endorsed at the High Level Conference on Euro-Mediterranean Energy Partnership which will take place in Rome in November.

In his comments to the press, the Energy Commissioner that developing new pipelines in a pan-European dimension was pivotal: “Gas will play an increasing important role in the energy mix, for heating and electricity in Europe and in developing economies in the Mediterranean.”

Only one third of the gas production in Europe is sourced from with the Union and it is forecasted that this internal supply will be exhausted over the next 20 years.

“It is in our interest to diversify supply, sources, partners and routes and that is why the Southern Corridor is an important part of our strategy,” Oettinger said.

But the EU must invest in LNG terminal, gas infrastructure, pipelines and interconnections. Oettinger underlined the necessity for governments to agree on a common policy, allowing investors the guarantee of a long-term commitment.

“If there is no common policy and no common understanding, we will fail,” the Commissioner warned.

Oettinger added that the EU’s need to diversify its sources was not a signal against anyone, or Russia: “It all boils down to global competition and Europe must diversify. In a few years Russia will be exporting gas beyond Europe, including to China which is diversifying its sources.”