Brussels , Belgium
March , 20/2013


488th Plenary Session

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©EU2013This afternoon the European Economic and Social Committee’s plenary session hosted a visit from Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy Policy, who came to participate in a debate related to the Committee’s exploratory opinion on exploring the needs and methods of public involvement and engagement in the energy policy field (rapporteur: Richard Adams, Various Interests Group, UK). It was an opinion that Mr Oettinger had himself requested and he clearly valued the work the Committee had done. He described to the plenary the consequences and implications of the shift in energy requirements from the local to the regional to the continental. This ‘Europeanisation’ had to be accompanied by a concomittant democratisation, especially given much greater mobility and the larger budgetary investments involved. But over and beyond the democratisation of the market the Commissioner argued that the efficient functioning of such a market was also predicated on the proper involvement of consumers, who should be more conscious and better informed about choices. Richard Adams’s opinion similarly argues that ‘Public involvement, understanding and acceptance of the different changes which our energy system will have to go through over the coming decades are absolutely essential. In this regard, dialogue with civil society is vital, and the EESC’s membership and constituency, reflecting European society, is well placed to reach out to citizens and stakeholders in the Member States and establish a comprehensive programme embodying participative democracy and practical action.’ In particular, The EESC would take the lead in establishing a European Energy Dialogue (EED), a coordinated multi-level, action-oriented conversation within and across all Member States. The opinion was adopted with a big majority.