By Martin Banks - 16th May 2013
It's now becoming clear; eventually Europe may well be the only continent in the world to depend on imported energy
Herman Van Rompuy
European council president Herman Van Rompuy has voiced concern about Europe's "energy dilemma".
Opening the European business summit in Brussels on Wednesday, he said, "It's now becoming clear; eventually Europe may well be the only continent in the world to depend on imported energy.
"Already by 2035 our dependence on oil and gas imports will reach more than 80 per cent.
"This will have an impact on the competitiveness of our companies, and of our economy as a whole."
He said he wanted the "energy dilemma" to feature on the agenda at next week's Brussels summit of EU leaders and heads of state.
In a keynote speech, Van Rompuy said that reviving job creation and growth was Europe's "foremost" political priority.
He told an audience of top businessmen and women, "Right now, nothing could be more important than focusing on tangible steps and concrete results for growth and for jobs. Unlocking opportunities, fast, for companies, for investors, for industry."
Referring to the EU's comprehensive strategy to exit the crisis, the former Belgian premier told the audience: "I've said it already and I'll say it again: there are four "keys" to unlock our way to recovery - four keys that we need to use simultaneously.
"First is preserving financial stability. Second is improving the resilience of our economies, through sound public finances – focussed on structural efforts – and improved competitiveness."
Other aims are fighting unemployment and supporting growth in the near term and strengthening the economic and monetary union.
"Working on all four and making sure we don't neglect any is the only way forward," he said.
Turning to the agenda of upcoming council meetings, Van Rompuy explained, "At the June council, we will focus on two issues: access to credit, and jobs for young people. We are working very hard on concrete proposals, and of course all ideas coming from member states and social partners are welcome."
At the next council summit on 22 May, EU leaders will debate the issues of taxation and energy.
Commenting on the latter theme, he underlined, "The world is in the midst of an energy revolution. So it's important to discuss those questions. We won't necessarily have all the answers right away, but we need to feed and grow that common debate."
The EU, he argued, had to continue discussing the diversification of its energy sources.
"We need to carefully weigh the potential of all conventional and unconventional energy sources present on our continent.
"Not to forget renewable energy of course, where we have set ourselves an ambitious target of 20 per cent of our total energy by 2020, and overall we are on track.
"There is still a huge potential, also in terms of job creation and we should take full advantage of it, especially now that these technologies are becoming more and more mature."