Secretary Blinken, Secretary Granholm, Commissioner, Ambassador Etienne,
We convene today in an environment characterised by geopolitical turbulence, particularly in the Eastern Neighbourhood of Europe. While we meet under the gathering storm cloud, our discussions take a greater relevance.
We need to reassure people that our joint endeavour will make them safer now and more energy-secure in the future. I think that we have to send a strong message to show determination to bolster energy security for Europe and for our direct neighbours, in Ukraine and in the Western Balkans.
So, thank you for the extraordinary positive cooperation in our transatlantic relation that has become stronger. You participated in our Foreign Affairs Council and we are working with NATO and the OSCE and we are doing a lot. And we have the hope that these challenges will be overcome.
We are in the midst of a strong diplomatic crisis with Russia. Russia – you know – does not hesitate on using the energy supplies to Europe as a weapon for geopolitical gain in the middle of a surge of energy prices worldwide.
We have been calling on Russia to de-escalate and we are deploying, with you mainly, diplomatic efforts to convince Russia to choose the path of dialogue – and this must continue. But, at the same time, we have to be clear, all together, that any further aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe costs in response. And we know how deeply we have been working on this response.
We have also reached out to our major energy suppliers in order to boost our preparedness and to ensure that energy supply remains reliable, affordable and secure. Not just for us, the European Union, for our neighbours too – Ukraine, Moldova and the Western Balkans. This is an important point on the agenda today.
At the same time, the situation has highlighted the need for Europe, and the rest of the world, to diversify energy supplies – and this is where our strategic cooperation on energy security comes in.
I think that our starting point today is that clean energy transition is now irreversible. There are those who wish to slow it down. There are people who say: “well, in the current circumstances, to save the world can wait a couple of years.” No. In light of the climate emergency, we have to accelerate it. And we want the transition to be just, globally and inside our societies, because if it is not just, it will not happen.
I think that also an excessive focus on the immediate needs risks distracting us from the bigger picture. Because reliable, affordable and secure energy can only come from a decarbonised energy mix based largely on renewables.
We are far away of the objective of reaching 2 degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees. With a world still dependent on fossil fuels for more than three quarters of its energy needs, with 600 million African people that have never seen an electric light bulb and they need more energy. In a world where we have to increase the energy production to feed the needs of many people, we have to take massive and urgent action to advance the transition to clean and renewable energies.
That is why our cooperation on climate is stronger – should be stronger – than ever. Today’s Energy Council is a good opportunity to ensure that the ambitious transatlantic agenda agreed in COP 26 will bring tangible results. The Global Methane Pledge is a good example, which we initiated together, putting the methane squarely on the global climate agenda.
Thank you very much for this occasion. I am looking forward for a lot of engagement from this meeting.
Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson:
Dear Secretary Blinken,
Dear Secretary Granholm,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be here in Washington at a time that is crucial for both of us in the energy policy perspective.
Jennifer Granholm knows that I have been working to organise this meeting since we first met, and this was already more than a year ago. Because this Council has always been the engine of progress in the transatlantic energy cooperation. And I believe that today more than ever, a strong partnership between the EU and the United States is needed, to promote our energy security and drive forward the global energy transition.
In Europe, we are facing high energy prices, driven by volatile gas markets and by tensions between Ukraine and Russia. Today’s situation is also exposing some structural challenges, which we can address better if we work together.
First, high price volatility shows that the energy transition is not a linear process, but a road with ups and downs. Working jointly, we can better stay the course.
Despite high prices, we must preserve the public trust and support for the clean energy transition. In the EU, we call it the European Green Deal. There are key legislative initiatives waiting to be finalized, both here in the US and in Europe.
Together, the EU and US can show that clean energy technologies are competitive, create new jobs and can benefit all territories and regions, in a just transition. We can work jointly to scale up markets for renewables, create opportunities for industry, like in offshore wind, and bring down the costs of the most innovative and promising technologies, like green hydrogen or small modular reactors. We can lead the way at global level, as we did with the Global Methane Pledge to reduce methane emissions, where now more than 100 countries have joined.
Secondly, this Council will mark another milestone in our partnership for energy security in Europe. Despite a decade long effort for diversification of gas routes, we are very much aware that our gas market is still too dependent on one single supplier, and that we need to continue to prioritise diversification: not only for Europe, but also for Ukraine and our partners in the neighbourhood.
And while we are seeking to reduce the dependency on one single supplier, we naturally turn to the US, our largest LNG supplier and reliable partner. I am confident that today we can follow up on the Joint Statement of President Biden and President Von der Leyen and identify ways to sustain strong US LNG exports to Europe in the coming months.
We can also better align our actions to support Ukraine in this critical moment and coordinate our help for the clean energy transition and the infrastructure development of the Western Balkan countries.
On all these subjects, strong cooperation can make a big difference. The US is our closest ally and as we face geopolitical tensions and the challenge of the climate change, we need more, not less transatlantic cooperation.
I very much look forward to this Council and to our exchanges.