The 4th Energy Forum has ended in Budapest.
The Forum was held under the banner of "the opportunities for regional cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe in new political and economic realities". Among nearly 80 panellists were the representatives of governments, parliaments, energy companies and scientific institutions from the CEE region and also Western Europe and the USA. The Forum was attended by nearly 300 guests from almost 40 countries from Europe, the USA and Canada.
Zygmunt Berdychowski, the Chairman of the Programme Council of the Forum, said that the Budapest event supplements the Economic Forum in Krynica in the area of energy. He admitted that a greater scale of the event should not be expected due to this reason. "Yet, thanks to the number and the rank of guests this year, the event in Budapest is one of the most important events related to energy in this part of Europe "- he emphasized. He added that the presence of the representatives of governments from the United States, Hungary, Poland, Macedonia, and the Czech Republic "builds prestige of this event ".
In his opinion the level of this year's debate was higher than last year. According to Zygmunt Berdychowski, Central Europe is more confident about its arguments as regards energy security, and it is more resolute in convincing of them also other European Union states.
The organizers of the 4th Energy Forum were the Eastern Institute and Energy Constellation Institute, and the event was held under the auspices of the President of Hungary Laszlo Solyom. The participants in the Hungarian Forum discussed about the possibilities of cooperation in the field of energy in Central and Eastern Europe in new political and economic realities connected, among other things, with the economic crisis.
Opening the Forum, Zygmunt Berdychowski said: – The gas crisis, which occurred in January 2009, made us even more aware of the necessity to cooperate in the energy sector in Central and Eastern Europe. Is the region better prepared to tackle similar situations ten months after the beginning of the crisis? – asked the panellists the chairman of the Programme Council of the Forum. Europe slowly recovers from the economic crisis; we can expect many changes in the energy sector in the coming years. Janos Csak, the Chairman of Constelation Energy Institute, the co-organizer of the Forum, stressed that regular energy supply can be guaranteed by developing production from renewable sources and liberalizing the energy market.
Richard Morningstar, an American energy expert and a special envoy of Eurasian Energy, warned the participants in the Forum that subsequent gas crises are likely to repeat in the future if Ukraine's policy would not change. Ukraine plays a key role as a transit country for raw materials from Russia to Europe, and its ineffective and leaky transfer system contributes to escalation of gas conflicts between Russia and Europe. According to Morningstar, in connection with a new makeup of the European Commission and new White House administration, the region's countries wait for new policy lines not only in the field of energy security, but also in connection with the development of a policy aimed at counteracting climate changes and supporting the renewable energy sector.
Alexandr Babakov, the Deputy Speaker of Russian Duma, explained that Russia, the same as Europe, is concerned with regular supply of energy resources. He blamed Ukraine for gas conflicts. In his view, a lack of political stability in Ukraine may trigger repeated gas blackmails. Babakov proposed to introduce international control on the Ukrainian transfer system.
The issue of the growing dependence of the European countries on external fuel imports was also mentioned by Viktor Orban, a former head of Hungarian government, currently a member of Hungarian parliament. – This issue is serious despite forecasted decline in the demand for energy in Europe by 2010. Soon 70 percent of the demand for raw materials will be covered from exports, as opposed to approximately 50 percent now – stated Viktor Orban.
The participants in the forum noticed that the use of nuclear energy does not only solve the issue of reducing carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, but it also allows becoming even partly independent from external sources. – It is important because nothing has changed for many years as regards the independence of Europe in terms of energy – said Mirek Topolanek, a former prime minister of the Czech Republic.
The participants in the Forum agreed that investments in the energy sector require long-term financial outlays. The energy sector and especially renewable sources are perspective investments. Still investors are afraid of political risks. According to the guests of the Forum, it is not worth to invest in the countries with insufficient political stability, where regulations change along with the role of regulators in the energy market, where prices and limits for CO2 emissions are not determined. Energy market experts pointed to the fact that there are many alternatives, as regards direct foreign investments. In their opinion there are many options to invest capital, while Central and Eastern Europe has recently demonstrated that it has not been absolutely reliable for investments in the energy sector.
Paweł Piszczek, tel. 22 5831120, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Folder summarizing the 4th Energy Forum
The gas crisis which took place in January 2009 made us even more aware of the necessity to cooperate in the energy sector in Central and Eastern Europe. Today, many heads of concerns from the power sector, politicians and experts keep asking themselves: is the region better prepared for dealing with such situations after that crisis? Many of them think that, for many years now, the European Union has underrated energy problems troubling Central and Eastern Europe. The situation of the region is also made more complicated by the ever greater energy expansion of Russia and the negative consequences of the economic crisis, which has caused a significant drop in foreign investment in the countries of Central and Easter Europe, which, in turn, has reduced financing available for energy projects. Therefore it is necessary to develop new solutions ensuring energy sovereignty by looking for new sources of raw materials, expanding industry capabilities, and developing investment in the area of renewable and nuclear energy. The Eastern Institute has participated in the debate devoted to such problems for many years, both during the Economic Forum in Krynica, where debates devoted to energy issues have their separate agenda and during the Energy Forum which has already been organised for over 4 years. We care about gathering key politicians, businessmen and experts involved in broadly understood energy issues so as to create a platform for discussion about possibilities for cooperation in a new political-economic reality and ensuring energy security on our continent.
Download Energy Forum Folder 2009