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2016.05.26BRU1
Ladies and Gentlemen, 
Recent months have confronted South-East Europe with a massive new challenge: the refugee and migration crisis.
This will be impossible to surpass without more intensified cooperation with the affected EU Member-States, as well as with the Western Balkans. 
The crisis is putting solidarity in Europe to the test. Some countries, my own included, are shouldering a disproportionate share of the burden. 
This undermines collective action, which works when you share obligations fairly.
We must:
- affirm that regional cooperation and communication – in short a greater sense of community- is crucial for overcoming the crisis which is stretching regional countries to the limit.
And:
-confirm our commitment to a Europe of solidarity and readiness to manage the refugee crisis by sharing burdens. We all want our neighborhood to be stable, rooted to Europe’s ideals, a place where people live enjoying diversity, freedom and prosperity. We all share a most fundamental interest: in not putting up walls, but of remaining open, coordinating and collaborating together.  
This observation also applies to Energy issues. 
This region is an important source of hydrocarbon and renewable wealth, with high energy efficiency potential. 
It is also a region where energy security is a critical geopolitical parameter; on the cross-roads of major energy routes, of strategic importance for energy security in Europe overall. Therefore promoting key energy infrastructure is not just a regional, but a European priority. The realization of major projects depends on securing investments and on availability of infrastructure finance at acceptable costs. 
This is increasingly challenging: 
-Banks have down-sized investments to meet solvency requirements, imposed after the financial crisis. 
-Utility balance sheets are shrinking due to low oil prices, reducing their ability to deliver major investments. Meanwhile:
-The region remains fragmented: Some countries are part of the EU, others are not. Some belong to the Energy Community, others don’t.  
-Most countries are small, and seek bilateral solutions for energy security, running risks of creating generation and energy overcapacity, that could finish as stranded assets.
Overcoming barriers requires closer cooperation, better coordination, aggregation of demand and complementary storage capacity.  Towards this the EU should: 
-Support the Energy Community’s development into a genuine common political platform facilitating cooperation across the region. 
-Accelerate access to low- cost finance by maximizing synergies, between the Juncker Package, the Capital Markets Union process and the Energy Union agenda. 
-Intensify efforts to align neighboring markets with the EU’s energy acquis, establishing  common rules providing accurate signals on power generation and gas infrastructure.
-Above all, deliver support with solidarity as promised by the Energy Union. 
We already see significant results of fruitful cooperation.  Combined initiatives, notably the Energy Community and CESEC process, demonstrate the effectiveness of the EU’s collective approach. 
However: Transposing directives efficiently is not enough. We need to implement rules effectively in order to optimize investments and extend the benefits of the internal market for energy security and competitive pricing to our neighbors. 
This also applies to the EU’s South-East Member-States, who don’t fully enjoy the advantages of the internal market. Too many gaps persist, especially regarding investments and infrastructure. Actually, this “two-tier internal market” is one of the hidden fragilities of Europe’s energy set-up. 
In contrast to Europe’s more integrated regions, the energy security in South-East Europe, is more fragile, undermined by little diversification, reliance on long-term contracts, inadequate connections to hubs and prices overwhelmingly dependent on oil prices. 
Today low oil prices have led to a convergence of hub and long- term contract gas prices. This should not blind us from implementing market reforms which shield consumers from volatile oil prices, overcome gaps and promote access to secure, diversified, competitive and affordable energy. 
These were my objectives - during my years as Greece’s Energy Minister. 
I arrived at the Ministry in 2009; a critical time, when the gas crisis had exposed the risks South-East Europe faces because of inadequate integration. Overcoming this and promoting in solidarity, the region’s access to diversified gas, became the cornerstone of my energy strategy. Therefore we set in motion a series of initiatives: 
Recently, I attended TAP’s inauguration with great emotion and pride. This moment constitutes the crowning achievement of our energy strategy, marked by a broad consensus and a progressive spirit, serving EU interests while joining together Europe’s broader neighborhood.  It was thrilling, especially for us who worked passionately for the opening of the Southern Corridor via Greece, confident of the benefits for the region’s energy security and economy. 
Last December we saw, with great satisfaction, the IGB obtain its FID. We promoted hard this critical project, which enhances Greek and Bulgarian energy security and provides South-East Europe with access to the Southern Corridor. To ensure this, we advanced the Vertical Corridor, which, via the IGB, will deliver diversified gas to Romania and beyond. 
To further optimize these projects, we supported the development of an LNG terminal in Alexandroupolis, and upgraded the existing Revythousa terminal. 
We also advanced Europe’s strategy for diversified routes and sources. 
Accordingly we promoted the creation of an energy bridge linking Europe to Asia: 
-For electricity: the Euro-Asia interconnector linking Israel, Cyprus and Greece.  
-For gas: the EastMed pipeline which will deliver Levantine gas directly to Europe’s markets. It’s challenging. However it “diversifies” the Southern Corridor providing Europe with a completely new route, additionally to the Turkish route for diversified gas. 
Finally we promoted diversified sources from indigenous supplies, by re-starting Greece’s Mega-hydrocarbon-project. For this we established the necessary pre-conditions and investment environment for successful Exploration and Exploitation, issued tenders and successfully concluded contracts.  I urge that the momentum we generated must be sustained.   
 
Ladies and Gentlemen, 
Greece is South-East Europe’s bridge with the EU. To develop into a hub we should promote open, competitive markets. Accordingly I ensured Greece was one of the first States to transpose the 3rd Energy Package into national law and enacted pioneering legislation on renewables and energy efficiency. 
However to fulfill its potential Greece must escape the vicious cycle of Memorandums. 
We must convince our lenders to refrain from excessive and unfair demands; 
Establish a new, modern, Operational State, based on progressive reforms, with less bureaucracy, facilitating real entrepreneurial innovation and creating private sector jobs. A state functioning with transparency, regulating and evaluating the three sectors of economic activity according to objective and certified procedures.   
Briefly: I believe the most credible “passport” to exit the crisis and move towards a fruitful future is the development of a progressive patriotic state; a state which bases economic revival on its domestic comparative advantages, while remaining outward looking and steadfast to its European values.   
According to this vision, investments should respect 3 cardinal, non-negotiable principles: 
First: local communities will share in benefits of the investment’s realization. We implemented this principle: the contracts for hydrocarbon Exploitation and Exploration provide that 25% of the State’s revenues are destined to local communities; 5% to post-graduate and research.
Second: Investments must result in direct local employment.
Third: local communities should benefit from future profits generated by investments, as we foresaw with regard to Greece’s development of hydrocarbons.  
 
Ladies and Gentlemen, 
Europe is facing difficult times. 
Today, the global economy is so interconnected that we can only overcome the refugee and economic crisis challenge together. Like climate action, action by one state will not solve the problem. It’s what we do together in solidarity that counts, on the national, regional and local level.  
I believe that only a progressive state can co-exist smoothly with global competitiveness and preserve grass-roots loyalty to the ideals of a united Europe.
Above all, we should develop a progressive patriotism celebrating our differences, respects our legacies and believes in the possibility of progress. That is my vision for Greece, and for our broader region. I am confident that working together we can succeed.  
 
 
Ομιλία στο Συνέδριο “THE ROLE OF EUROPE’S SOUTHEASTERN PERIPHERY IN THE EU ENERGY SECURITY”, Hotel Sofitel, Brussels Europe, 26/5/2016
 
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Βιβλία Γιάννη Μανιάτη

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