Written by Alex Wilson
The Energy Community Treaty (ECT) was signed in 2005. Its principal objective is to expand the EU internal energy market to neighbouring countries (‘Contracting States’) that are willing to adopt the EU energy acquis. The Energy Community (EnC) includes a permanent secretariat based in Vienna and a set of decision-making institutions. The Ministerial Council meets annually and makes all key strategic decisions. Detailed preparatory work is carried out by the Permanent High-Level Group, which meets more frequently. The EnC Secretariat is responsible for monitoring, assisting and enforcing implementation of the energy acquis in the Contracting States.
The EU institutions strongly support the objectives of the Energy Community (EnC), and the European Commission plays a lead role in its decision-making processes. Yet shortcomings have been identified in the way that EnC institutions currently operate, with weak implementation of the energy acquis among several Contracting States and inadequate tools for enforcement. Questions have also been raised about the potential membership of the EnC, whether it should be widened and made more flexible. A high-level group was commissioned to look into improving the governance structures of the EnC and delivered its report in May 2014; this was followed by a detailed stakeholder consultation in early 2015. Some decisions on the functioning of the EnC may be taken at the next Ministerial Council in Tirana on 16 October 2015.