ECONOMY

Sioufas outlines proactive energy policy in SE Europe

Promising an aggressive energy policy along with promoting liberalization of the electricity and natural gas markets, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas opened the three-day «Energy and Development 2004» conference, organized in Athens by the Institute of Energy for South East Europe. Sioufas explained that this policy includes: – Gradual completion of the institutional framework for the liberalized electricity market, modernization of the framework for electricity production from renewable energy sources, and conclusion of the dialogue about the institutionalization of a new Code of Management of the System and Trading of Electric Energy; – Restructuring of the legal framework for liberalization of the natural gas market according to European Union directives; – Promoting policies for Greece to enter the large international oil and natural gas energy networks, mainly by forwarding the Greek-Turkish and Greek-Italian natural gas pipelines. The minister announced that last Friday the EU Financial Support Committee for inter-European energy networks unanimously approved a grant of 3,225 million euros for important advanced studies by the Public Natural Gas Corporation about the natural gas interconnection between Greece and Italy. Sioufas added Greece’s significant energy upgrading in the global energy chart with the initializing of the Cooperation Memorandum for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, by Greece, Bulgaria and Russia a week ago in Athens; – Policies and programs for renewable energy’s penetration into the market, as well as energy saving; and – Determined participation and strengthening of the role of the Regulatory Energy Authority and the Electric Energy Transfer System Manager, along with the reorganization and modernization of the Public Power Corporation. The development minister also stressed that a core government aim is the creation of a single electric and natural gas energy market in Southeast Europe, a target of great community and national importance. He also announced that EU member states and SE European countries will soon be able to sign a treaty to become the starting point for the ambitious plan of a common energy market; on December 13 ministers taking part in the SE Europe Energy Community will meet in Athens to adopt the guidelines of the treaty regarding a single energy (electricity and natural gas) market in SE Europe. The EU countries actively participating in this effort are Austria, Italy, Greece, Slovenia and Hungary, and contracting countries are Albania, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Romania, Croatia, Turkey and the Special UN Representation in Kosovo. Moldova has observer status. The completion of this market, the minister concluded, will end the isolation of SE Europe and the safeguarding of their energy supply. It will also signify the strengthening of cooperation among these states and of peace, stability and economic development in the wider region.