5.30PM, Tuesday 23 May

Stanhope Hotel Brussels, Rue du Commerce 9, 1000 Bruxelles

  • Keynote lecture: Professor James Woudhuysen, author of MCC Brussels’ latest report: Lights out: Is the EU failing on Energy Policy? 


  • Dr Peter Hefele, Policy Director, Wilfried Martens Centre 
  • Mr Rob Roos MEP


Energy has become a priority for the EU like almost never before. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a major spike in prices and forced the EU to confront a long history of energy dependency on Russia. At the same time, concerns around climate change have prompted a never-ending series of strategies and policies designed to boost renewables and limit demand through ‘energy efficiency’. The EU’s ‘Fit for 55’, ‘REPowerEU’ and ‘Green Deal Industrial Plan’ initiatives promise a wholesale revolution in energy policy across the EU. 

But is the EU capable of developing and putting into practise an energy policy that will meet the aspirations of Europeans? As a new report from MCC Brussels by Professor James Woudhuysen illustrates, the track record to date is not encouraging. Not only did the EU fail to avoid a disastrous dependency on Russia, but it is dogged by a legacy of inefficiency and a failure to develop new sources of energy. 

Few doubt the need for change. But the new report suggests that EU policies have only made things worse. Tussles over the status of nuclear power – is it a climate friendly energy source or not? – reveal not just the failure to take a clear strategic view, but the growing politicisation of energy at the EU level. The question of how to produce the energy Europe needs has become bogged down in debates about environmentalism. Whilst many countries have made substantial investments in renewables like wind, solar and others, none have figured out how to deal with well-known problems such as intermittency. Indeed, Germany is now bulldozing both ancient forest and wind farms to dig up coal. 

Europe’s elites are, however, bullish. They insist the ‘green transition’ will lead to new, well-paying jobs and a future of efficiency. They promise that renewables will make Europe more prosperous as well as being ‘healthy’ and ‘sustainable’. But, in the absence of credible new energy supplies, European elites have become obsessed with reducing energy demand. Consumers and businesses are encouraged to become more ‘energy efficient’, told to get used to cooler homes in winter, incentivised to install heat pumps, or steered towards electric cars. Many question how Europe’s economy can grow without more power. Is energy efficiency just a euphemism for energy austerity?

What, then, has been Europe’s track record to date on energy policy? Can the EU meet the demands of climate change at the same time as delivering the energy Europe needs? Is energy efficiency a dangerous distraction? What is the role of nuclear power? Fundamentally: do we need more energy, or less, and from where? 

Join MCC Brussels for this discussion with Professor Woudhuysen, author of MCC Brussels’ latest report: Lights out: Is the EU failing on Energy Policy?


Dr Peter Hefele, Policy Director, Wilfried Martens Centre 

Mr Rob Roos MEP