29-4-2013 — /europawire.eu/ — During his visit to Lithuania, Henri Malosse, EESC President, travelled to the Ignalina plant, closed at the request of the European Commission as one of the conditions of Lithuania’s accession to the European Union.
“Access to energy is a key issue for all countries as well as their citizens. However, if Europe is to play a role, if European integration is to make sense, it is precisely by addressing the strategic challenge of sharing energy resources. Member States will achieve nothing in the long term if they act alone.”
The closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, located relatively close to the Chernobyl site, has increased awareness of the issue of energy access in Lithuania. However, this is not solely a problem for Lithuania or its Baltic neighbours. It is a crucial issue for Europe as a whole.
Ensuring access to efficient and sustainable energy represents a key challenge for the years ahead.
It can provide a solution to the problem of company competitiveness at a time when many are experiencing cuts, which are jeopardizing their business.
It can provide an answer to our citizens, who should not have to accept the fact that between 50 and 150 million of the EU’s population could be affected by fuel poverty1 and forced to make choices unthinkable in today’s society such as the choice between heating or health.
It can provide an answer to our future generations at a time that is seeing the development of energy sources with a low environmental impact.
Each government is considering the various solutions available, but they are all doing it on their own – against all common sense. Who can deny that today’s energy market is one that transcends national borders? Can anyone be surprised that Lithuania has questioned the plans to build a nuclear power plant in Belarus, less than 60 km from its capital?
We are still a long way off an “energy mix” that can provide a sustainable and effective response to the challenge of the growing energy demand in Europe. But this challenge cannot be discussed behind closed doors among the powers that be. The EU’s Member States and their citizens have everything to gain by addressing this issue at European level.
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The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process. The Committee has 344 members from across Europe, who are appointed by the Council of the European Union.