The energy markets of the 27 EU Member States remain a largely fragmented puzzle with little or no inter-connection in either policies or network. This fragmentation has led to European industry and consumers having to pay energy bills far higher than they need be.
At this week’s EU Summit Barroso is calling on the EU Member States to talk with “one voice” when it comes to diversifying supplies, to back projects that inter-connect Europe’s energy network and to adopt a more coordinated policy on renewables.
We wish the EU luck. The shale gas revolution is sending the member states spinning into unilateralism rather than seeking to maximise interest through a coordinated approach. Whilst France, for example, has approved a moratorium on shale gas drilling the British Minister for Energy announced, last week, that a number of exploratory shale gas licences across the south of England have been approved.
Watch this space – later this year the European Commission’s views on shale gas will be read eagerly by many an interest group.
Tax Fraud and Evasion
With the papers full of news on Apple, Starbucks and Google dodging their taxes with spectacular aplomb the EU is proposing a number of measures to curb their excesses.
Setting up an integrated systematic infrastructure that allows for the exchange of information between the member states makes sense. Trying to catch tax evaders by slamming on the brakes at national borders during a chase is about as effective as trying to get the Dukes of Hazzard to open the car door rather than dive in through the open window, feet-first.
Fighting Pirates with pistols and cutlasses
No not really. The modern state has moved on since the day of Jack Sparrow and Davey Jones and no longer fights pirates with cutlasses and pistols. They are still apt, however, to sending in a gun-boat to protect their interests. The EU has agreed to help fund MASE – the Regional Maritime Security to the tune of EUR 37 million. Thanks to the efforts of MASE piracy has decreased from 299 attacks in 2011 to 111 in 2012 (a reduction of over 62%), while the number of hijackings dropped from 25 to 12. Levels for 2013 remain low. Clearly a good investment, therefore.