Regional cooperation has become one of the genuine pillars of European energy policy. It is pursued in all five dimensions of the Energy Union: security of energy supply, internal energy market, energy efficiency, climate policy and research and development. Preventive and emergency plans for an energy crisis, coordination and data exchange on power flows, regional action plans for interconnections, deployment of cross-border smart grids or joint renewables projects or support schemes – they are all different manifestations of the regional approach in building Energy Union.
Central Europe is also a party to this regionalization trend. In recent years countries in Central Europe have engaged in numerous cooperation projects. As a result, the region is becoming increasingly interconnected, integrated and resilient. The Central European states have developed numerous initiatives, which further enhanced functioning of energy systems in particular states. The main aim of these efforts has been to take care of the development of the gas and electricity sectors both in terms of infrastructure and liquidity of the markets. They surpassed cooperation limited merely to hard infrastructure development (mostly related to gas sector) and currently, they increasingly focus on market integration and reliable functioning of the electricity sector and energy related innovations. This is a big qualitative change that proves increasing maturity and durability of cooperation in Central Europe. It is worth noting that effectiveness of the implementation of the European acquis on a national level depends on its synergies with particular objectives of certain member states. In the case of cross-border energy cooperation, Central Europe provides several examples of such synergies.
This analytical paper is based on contributions of CEEP’s partner institutions: Romania Energy Center, Sobieski Institute (PL), Slovak Foreign Policy Association, Center for Study of Democracy (BG), Institute for Development and International Relations (HR), Foundation for Regional Policy Cooperation in Energy and Infrastructure – REKK (HU), Vytautas Magnus University (LT), Center for energy Studies – Masaryk University (CZ). Its aim is to present a broad picture of the regional energy cooperation in Central Europe. First, we present different fora for facilitating cooperation both vertically and horizontally. Secondly, we review the main achievements of regional cooperation in gas and electricity sectors that stem from a natural belief that infrastructure development is a necessary prerequisite to market integration and increasing security of supply. Another element of our inquiry is research and development where numerous specific projects are analysed. The article concludes with recommendations on how to further strengthen regional cooperation within Central Europe and how to integrate the region within the context of the broader European energy market.