EU agree on setting up single energy market with Turkey, Balkan neighbours
BRUSSELS (AP) - The European Union agreed Tuesday on an energy co-operation agreement with the Balkan countries, Turkey and Moldova, aiming to secure energy supplies across the continent.
The agreement, reached at a meeting of officials in Athens, Greece, aims to set up a so-called Energy Community between the 25-country EU and Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia-Montenegro, Romania, U.N.-controlled Kosovo and Turkey.
EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said the agreement, which will lead to the signing of a treaty to formalize the co-operation, represented "a major step forward in bringing lasting stability and growth to the region, as well as its progressive integration into the European Union."
The plan involves setting up a single market securing a stable flow of energy resources, including imports of oil and natural gas into the EU. The bloc remains heavily dependent on imports of energy supplies.
The single market would offer an added and less expensive energy supply route to the EU from the Middle East and the Caspian Sea region, and end the isolation of Greece, which is cut off from the rest of the club, the EU head office said.
The European Commission said it aims to have the treaty signed by next summer, adding that it hoped to expand co-operation to other "critical infrastructure" areas such as transport and telecommunications links.
© The Canadian Press 2004