Andris Piebalgs in as new energy commissioner

22 November 2004

The European Parliament has approved president Jose Barroso’s new line-up of 24 commissioners, installing Latvian Andris Piebalgs as energy commissioner instead of original candidate Lázló Kovács, who was embarrassingly branded ‘incompetent’ for the post by parliamentarians.

Credit: European Community 2004

Latvian Andris Piebalgs is the new commissioner in charge of energy

In his answers to a questionnaire used to assess his suitability for the role, Piebalgs annnounced that he intends to pursue a policy framework based on limiting growth in demand while increasing the diversity of supply. He considers nuclear’s part in Europe’s energy mix to be indispensible – especially due to its low-carbon status.

Piebalgs wants to see the same high levels of nuclear safety across the continent in line with the aims of the latest draft 'nuclear package' of directives, and he believes that an EU-wide regulatory framework would increase the industry’s transparency and levels of public acceptance. Piebalgs also wishes to meet all the objectives of the Euratom treaty: he said that “strict application of provisions of the Euratom Treaty is essential.”

On competition, Piebalgs expressed his unhappiness that 18 member states had not yet implemented the second electricity and gas package and that there was not yet a ‘level playing field’ in all member states. “This must not be allowed to persist,” he declared. He also wants to stop the use of decommissioning funds for anything other than that purpose, saying that such activity causes ‘distortions’: his commission will be making a recommendation on this, he assured the parliament.

Piebalgs assigns high priority to: reducing overall energy demand, especially by optimising the energy performance of buildings; promoting the long-term development of hydrogen; improving the competitiveness of renewables through economic measures; supporting the development of nuclear fusion and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) project.

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