In Europe, the two key words of the year were: “Energy Union”. According to Central Europe Energy Partners (CEEP), Europe has laid foundations for the legal and regulatory system, aimed at harmonising energy networks across borders. At the same time, significant investment efforts were conducted, in order to expand transmission infrastructure and eliminate some of the ‘energy islands' from the European Union.

In the European and international energy markets, 2015 was a time of great hopes and significant challenges. As far as the Energy Union is concerned, Marcin Bodio, the Chief Executive Officer of CEEP, is especially glad to see infrastructure integration as an important part of the project. He explained why: “a strategic imperative is to establish new transmission networks of pipelines and interconnectors for the transport of gas, crude oil, and electricity, on the North–South axis. This energy corridor, stretching from the Baltic to the Adriatic and Black Seas, is the key to the growth of energy security and resilience in the European Union. In 2015, we gained support for this joint infrastructural undertaking from the top representatives of the European Commission, including its Vice-President for Energy Union.”

Expanding energy infrastructure was Europe’s priority in 2015, and should also remain one in 2016. One of Europe’s most significant milestones in this field was the completion of the Polish-Lithuanian and Lithuanian-Swedish power interconnectors. “Both Poland and Lithuania have enhanced their energy security through the ability to import and export power. This is especially important in crisis situations, when operators need to balance their power systems with the help of their peers from abroad. Strategic co-operation is the key to ensuring security of supply in the region,” stressed Beata Jarosz, press officer of PSE , Poland’s electricity transmission system’s operator. The company is a CEEP member.

According to Daivis Virbickas, Chief Executive of Litgrid, Lithuania’s electricity transmission system’s operator, and also a CEEP member, the free movement of energy resources should be the fifth fundamental freedom in the single European market, next to the free movement of goods, services, capital, and people. “To achieve this, we need to eliminate energy islands, and apply single rules for market and systems’ operations. We must, therefore, extend cross-border capacities between Poland and Lithuania. Together with our Polish peers, we have agreed to investigate what expansion of capacities is necessary, and decide on this by the end of 2016. Additional capacities will be part of the North–South Corridor, through which, electricity from Scandinavia can successfully reach the whole of Central Europe,” Mr. Virbickas noted.

CEEP believes that, in 2016, both the Energy Union and the North–South Corridor must be used to overcome the fragmented, short-sighted, and isolated approach to energy. “As the internal market is the cornerstone of European energy policy, the first priority is to make it work. This means that priority should be given to the expansion of infrastructure, without which energy may not flow where it is needed in Central Europe, especially as concerns gas,” concluded CEEP’s CEO.