The EU’s political steps to reduce its energy dependence and create an Energy Union need to be accompanied by investments in energy infrastructure, particularly in the continent’s Eastern region. One key proposed project is the construction of the North–South Corridor of energy, transportation and telecommunications, as promoted in a report by the Atlantic Council and Central Europe Energy Partners (CEEP).
After formal launches in Istanbul (November, 2014) and Brussels (March, 2015), the report was also introduced to the Washington DC policymaking and business community on April the 8th.
The report - co-chaired by Mr Paweł Olechnowicz, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Central Europe Energy Partners, and General James L. Jones, Jr., President of Jones Group International, and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and former US National Security Advisor to President Obama – emphasises the need to promote and co-ordinate investment into critically important energy, transport, and telecommunications projects along the North-South Corridor in Central and Eastern Europe. The report identifies the pivotal projects and proposes a series of policy recommendations for regional and European stakeholders, as well as American policymakers.
General Jones emphasised that, in the wake of Russian aggression against Ukraine, completing the European integration project through the necessary infrastructure is more relevant than ever. The North-South Corridor would help to strengthen and ensure the resilience of Europe and the transatlantic alliance as a whole. Therefore, it is also in the interests of the US to support the projects by lending diplomatic assistance, dropping limitations on US oil and gas exports, and also promoting the projects as investment opportunities for US businesses.
Mr Olechnowicz underlined the role of the North-South Corridor in Europe’s competitiveness. The lack of an integrated European energy market and diversified supplies to vulnerable countries in Europe’s Central and Eastern regions, will encourage high energy prices to render European industry uncompetitive. “Completing Europe’s infrastructure will boost growth, provide jobs, and will also help the fight against climate change”, proclaimed Mr. Olechnowicz, calling on European and regional stakeholders to conduct a strategic dialogue on how to fast-track critically important projects along the Corridor, by leveraging both public and private funding.
David Koranyi, co-director of the North-South Corridor report stressed that prioritisation is crucial. . “There are only limited public funds available, therefore we need to focus on those projects that are truly strategic from an energy security and economic competitiveness standpoint. The report does exactly that: it identifies these projects, and promotes innovative ways to get them going through a series of realistic measures, which European institutions and regional policymakers can take”.