Energy security Tops EU Summit agenda

European Union (EU) leaders will meet on Friday to explore ways of ensuring energy security and boosting innovation among the 27 member Bloc, with the debt crisis and Egypt also on their agenda.
President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, who will chair the meeting, said in an invitation letter that the leaders are expected to quickly endorse the draft conclusions concerning the future direction of the EU's energy policy. I would like our discussion to focus on one of the most crucial aspects, that of energy security, he said.

To ensure energy supply of the 27 member Bloc, the leaders will discuss in detail how to complete a single internal energy market and diversify its routes of supply and sources of energy.

We must achieve a fully integrated competitive European energy market with regulations and closely linked infrastructure connections, Van Rompuy said in a video message delivered on Wednesday.

Securing energy supply is also extremely important, because the European Union depends on others, he stressed.

Another topic at Friday's summit is the bloc's innovation policy.

We will discuss which concrete initiatives can boost innovation in a way which benefits citizens, companies and researchers, Van Rompuy said in his invitation letter.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, warned on Tuesday that the EU was failing to keep up with the U.S. and Japan in innovation and was facing increasing competition from emerging economies such as Indian Brazil and China.

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday that energy and innovation are central to our aim of restoring sustainable growth and increasing the European Union's competitiveness.

He said the leaders should identify clear, concrete deliverables at their summit and the discussion and the outcome should be as operational and productive as possible.

Besides energy and innovation policies, the leaders are also expected to discuss how to deal with the debt crisis, taking stock of the progress made so far and set out a clear path towards a comprehensive package by the summit in March.

This entails agreement on strengthening the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the decision on the treaty change and agreement on the operational features of the future European Stability Mechanism, a determined pursuit of national reforms and fiscal consolidation, and ways of better ensuring macroeconomic coherence within the euro area, Van Rompuy said.

But analysts said that no breakthroughs are expected at this summit given the fact that the debt crisis is easing and disagreement remain over how to strengthen the EFSF.

On the external part, the EU leaders will exchange views on the latest events in Egypt and Tunisia and their implications for the region itself and the EU.-Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr.