FECER defends subsidiarity and complementarity in energy policy

The European Federation of Executives in Energy and Research (FECER) is calling for consideration to be given to the full range of possibilities in research and development and in the construction and operation of low-carbon energy production facilities. This demand echoes not only the motto of the European Union « United in diversity » but also the geographical, political and historical facts of our continent.

The diversity of energy policies is as much a reflection of history, geography and natural resources as it is of the pride, skills, anxieties and economic interests of each country. The Hungarians, for example, have to deal with Russia, whose nuclear technology they have kept and on which they are heavily dependent for gas imports. The Germans have decided to close down their nuclear power stations, even though they were very good operators of them, in favour of wind and solar power, while temporarily retaining gas and coal. France is returning to nuclear power after years of harmful political hesitation. Belgium is extending some of its nuclear power stations. Italy is hesitating. Lithuania has had to commit to deconstructing its gigantic Soviet-technology nuclear power plant in order to gain the right to join the European Union.

Let’s be ambitious and take advantage of our European complementarities instead of pitting them against each other! Let’s not mistake our competitors or our adversaries: they are in Beijing, Washington and Moscow, not in Strasbourg or in the capitals of Europe.

Our objectives are low-carbon energy production and energy sovereignty, the basis of all industrial and political sovereignty. Taking decisions as closely as possible to our citizens and local or regional realities is what we call subsidiarity in European jargon. It’s high time we focused on these common priority objectives, and let Europe’s states and regions experiment, seek and find their own way.

Subsidiarity does not mean that Europeans should stop showing solidarity and working together. Far from it. Energy production and transport are long-term industries, requiring colossal investments and human resources on a continental scale. This is particularly true in Research. 

We need to make common cause in fundamental and applied research. Among the areas of research that can be pooled, we should mention research into nuclear waste, which could be recycled, for example through transmutation, which is being studied at Mol in Belgium. Or solar panels and wind turbines, which require rare earths for their production and which need to be recycled after use. Then there’s research into batteries and small nuclear reactors, known as SMRs. Finally, there is hydrogen, which is raising great hopes as an energy vector for decarbonising energy-intensive industrial sectors and heavy transport, but which presents many challenges in terms of production and transport.

With the massive arrival of intermittent energies, such as wind and solar power, each State must develop its electricity networks, and Europe must strengthen interconnections, tools of energy solidarity, in order to balance supply and demand. In the gas sector too, transporting molecules from one European region to another is a challenge that mobilises engineers and researchers. Networks are therefore a European issue par excellence.

In order to achieve this ambitious objective of European subsidiarity and solidarity, the FECER is calling on the elected representatives of the new European Parliament to rigorously observe low-carbon technological neutrality, disregarding all ideological dogmatism in their debates and decisions. This is the key to the success of the European Union’s climate ambitions!

FECER, a member of the CEC European Managers, represents and defends the interests of managerial staff in production and operating companies in the energy sector and in related research, whether in renewable, fossil or nuclear energy. It currently brings together trade unions from Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania and Spain.