‘No silver bullet’: EU leaders worry over energy future

European countries are being "too slow" in creating a single energy market, Jose Manuel Barroso has complained at the end of this month's European council.

EU leaders gathered in Brussels to discuss the continent's strategic energy options as moves towards a single market, scheduled for 2014, continued at a frustratingly slow pace.

"The pace of implementation has been too slow," European Commission chief Barroso complained. "We need goodwill to act at the European level and this council was important in that respect."

Europe is about to become the only continent which remains dependent on imported energy as the world faces what European Council president Herman van Rompuy described as an "energy revolution".

"Households feel the weight of high prices," Van Rompuy said in the post-summit press conference. "Industry finds it hard to compete with foreign firms which pay half the price for energy, so our leaders are keenly aware sustainable and affordable energy is key for factories and jobs in Europe."

All countries are to be connected to a common grid by 2015 at the latest under plans agreed in February 2011.

Van Rompuy said one trillion euros of investment was needed by 2020 in energy infrastructure and urged European countries to demonstrate a clearer policy stance to unlock investment.

He also underlined the importance of ensuring no country ensures on a single energy source and the "huge potential" to be made in improving energy efficiency efforts.

"More generally, leaders agreed on the need to better coordinate major national energy decisions that will impact on other decisions," Van Rompuy added.

"We stressed the interests and rights of consumers are central to our decisions… in the end, people need to feel the difference."

Barroso presented EU leaders with a 'no regrets' scenario which involved progress in the internal energy market, investment, efficiency, renewable energy and diversifying supplies.

"The global energy landscape is changing very quickly, and not in Europe's favour, but we should not be resigned to that," he said.

"We are making steps towards… the European Energy committee. There is no silver bullet to solve the energy challenges Europe faces but there is much we can do if we act together through Europe."