The constant supply of energy is something we often take for granted, noted the European Commission. Securing that energy supply is vital: it ensures our homes are heated, or air-conditioned, that we can phone, use lights and computers and that our hospitals, public transport and other essential services, like water distribution, function.
The European Union must assure energy security to its nearly 500 million citizens, by encouraging cross-border cooperation and inter-connections to make energy flow more smoothly across the whole of the EU. When there is no sun or wind to produce electricity, it is key for an EU country to be able to rely on imports from electricity produced in a neighbouring EU country.
To make the European energy system capable to deal with possible disruptions, the EU also is promoting a great diversification of sources, for instance by having more sources of renewable energies and energy storage solutions, so that if one source fails, the other can compensate.
However, maintaining a stable supply of electricity for all Europeans is not easy. As with gas pipelines, electricity grids are strongly interconnected across Europe and well beyond the EU, leading to the fact that an outage in one country might trigger blackouts or shortages of supply in other areas and countries.
That is why the European Commission is working to assure such electricity supply, including a well-designed and functioning electricity market so that electricity is always available where needed.
When it comes to gas, the entire continent relies heavily on foreign supplies. Therefore, Europe needs to minimise the risks, whether on issues surrounding the critical infrastructure physically bringing that gas into Europe, or geopolitical issues creating uncertainty surrounding our relationships with suppliers.
When it comes to the arrival of the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, such huge disruption has shone a light on the EU reliance on a robust energy system, vital to the secure supply of energy for our hospitals, industries producing medical equipment and other essential activities and for people, who are forced to remain at home.
The Commission confirmed that there is currently no threat in terms of energy security and the European energy system has shown its resilience. Electricity, gas and oil can flow where it is needed, and in particular where it is needed the most.
After the crisis of COVID-19, the EU will keep looking at energy security as an important issue at the heart of European energy policy and key for a more resilient society. In fact, despite this uncertainty, EU leaders have underlined the importance of pressing on with the EU ambition of becoming climate-neutral by 2050 and this should influence the public and private investment decisions and new policy programmes that will follow in the coming months.