Two decades after independence of the countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and the Caspian still share significant similarities in the design of their economies, governance structures, public infrastructure and institutions. Despite a clear emergence of diverse policies and preferences, the energy sectors of each country have suffered significantly as they tried to develop independent and functional energy systems while moving away from inherited interlinked industries and infrastructure, as well as fully inter-connected regional systems. This has resulted in challenges in setting up well-designed domestic energy markets and maximising their full potential. Energy-policy developments across the region have been uneven. Addressing these challenges will require fundamental improvements, particularly in how these countries collect and use energy data and feed it back into policy-making.
This is one of the key goals of EU4Energy, a 4-year EU-funded programme working to support evidence-based energy policy and decision making in the areas of energy security, energy markets and sustainable development in 11 focus countries — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. The IEA is responsible for the programme’s energy-data management and data use in policy design.
These countries have all shown substantial improvements in energy-data gathering over the past decades. However, for the most part, energy statistics are still used to record historic developments rather than being used for the development of sound energy policies and projections. Energy policies are also biased towards the supply side and there is a clear need for policy-makers to take into account the energy demand in their long-term energy strategies. This requires improving the quality of the energy consumption data in the national energy balances.
Plans for improving data collection and integrating into government policies was one of the topics under discussion at the first meeting of the EU4Energy Steering Committee, hosted by the IEA on May 19th. Representatives from ten of the focus countries were present as the Steering Committee discussed the activities of the first year of the programme and the upcoming annual work plan for 2017-2018. The Committee was the first occasion the main implementing bodies of the project – the European Commission, IEA, Energy Community Secretariat and Energy Charter Secretariat – gathered jointly with the focus countries. EU4Energy was also represented at the EXPO 2017 on Future Energy in Astana, Kazakhstan in mid-June, where the programme held an Annual Statistics Network Meeting and its first Sustainable Energy Policy Forum.