Danube Region Strategy “Energy Prospects Post-2020” conference
On 31st May 2017, the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade – with the support of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – organized a conference entitled „Danube Region Strategy: Energy Prospects Post-2020”. As part of Hungary’s current presidency of the Danube Region Strategy, this program was the first in a series of events that will also focus on transport and clean connectivity. The closed morning session for experts from DRS Member States highlighted the technical, infrastructural and regulatory challenges facing the energy systems of Central and Southeastern Europe, whereas the afternoon, open panel discussion also explored the long-term political, economic and social effects of climate change and the “green” energy revolution.
Hungary formally assumed the presidency of the EU’s Danube Region Strategy in November 2016, and shall host a high-level Annual Forum on 18th-19th October 2017 in Budapest. To prepare for this, the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT), with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, is organizing a series of conferences covering current issues of mutual interest to Member States of the Danube Region Strategy, namely energy, transport, and clean connectivity. The first conference, entitled “DRS Energy Prospects Post-2020”, was held at IFAT on 31st May 2017.
The morning session of the conference entailed a closed panel discussion between experts from DRS countries on issues pertaining to energy and climate, in accordance with the Chatham House Rule. The topics covered included gas market integration, the role of R+D, cross-border cooperation and the harmonization of national energy strategies with EU guidelines. Specific attention was devoted to the question of how best to capitalize upon potential political and business synergies between Member States in terms of energy.
The afternoon session was open to the public, and focused on the energy outlook for our region over the next decade(s). In his opening remarks, Ambassador Márton Schőberl, IFAT’s Director reflected on the various geopolitical forces affecting the Danube region from an energy perspective. Mr István Joó, Ministerial Commissioner for Water Diplomacy, Export and the Danube Region Strategy from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary underscored the benefits of cooperation between DRS countries in line with the priorities of Hungary’s presidency. The second keynote speech, delivered by Mr Zoltán Deák, the Head of the Political and Economic Unit at the European Commission Representation in Hungary, highlighted the importance of the Danube region from the perspective of the EU’s macro-regional development strategies.
The ensuing panel discussion comprised five renowned experts. Ambassador Csaba Kőrösi, Director for Environmental Sustainability from the Office of the President spoke about long-term environmental challenges, stressing the need to step beyond traditional narratives of “pipeline politics” to address the multifaceted effects of decarbonization globally. Our invited foreign speakers, Mr Pavol Szalai (senior editor, EurActiv.sk, Slovakia), Mr Victor Logatskiy (leading expert on energy, Razumkov Centre, Ukraine), and Mr Todor Galev (senior analyst, Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria) presented the medium-term energy policy outlook of their respective countries, also pointing out the social and environmental impacts of these strategies. Finally, Mr Pál Ságvári, Ambassador-at-Large for Energy Security from the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, differentiated between the infrastructural challenges of the region in pre-2020 period, and the transformative changes awaiting the sector in the coming decades. The panel discussion was followed by a lively Q+A session. The moderator of the entire event was Ms Diána Szőke, senior analyst at IFAT.