When the subject turns to the idea of an Energy Union, a number of factors influence Hungary’s perspective. First of all, security of supply is a crucial issue for us. Approximately 80 percent of Hungarian households rely on natural gas for heating. That high rate of penetration is almost unmatched in all of Europe. At the same time, Hungary depends on Russia for 80 percent of the supply of that gas. The result is that Hungary has become one of the most exposed Member States of the European Union.
There’s nothing new in the objectives of the Energy Union. We have been discussing them for years. The Framework Strategy echoes those well-known objectives and aims to provide a coherent view on European energy policy. The core objectives deserve support. All of us would like to see increased European competitiveness and security of supply, infrastructure development, establishment of an internal energy market and greater emphasis on improving efficiency.
At the same time, the entire Community has a lot to do yet. Hungary has been busy on this front over the last several years. Household utility bills have declined. Several pieces of key infrastructure have been built, especially gas infrastructure. Hungary has also decided, based on the national Energy Strategy, to expand its nuclear power generation capacity and has successfully negotiated access to unused quantities of gas, despite the fact that the long-term gas contract with Russia ends this year.
The Hungarian EPP delegation cannot support an Energy Union that endangers these results of the last several years. However, it can support an Energy Union that goes after the real problems of the energy market. Those include development of infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe, better enforcement of use of existing infrastructure, and assistance to vulnerable Member States to diversify energy sources.