The MOT guides "The energy transition and cross-border cooperation", January 2019


Challenges and advantages of cooperation in the energy sector

Besides the technical, environmental and economic challenges for territories, recurrent in the energy sector, in the context of cross-border cooperation there are also specific regulatory, fiscal and legal challenges.
While the European Union is harmonising its energy policy with directives that set the same objective for all of its Member States, yet leaving them to choose the means of achieving said objective, the national regulations differ and confront each other in cross-border territories. Coordination of these regulations is required in order to encourage and make possible the cooperation of neighbouring local authorities in this field.

The added value of cross-border cooperation

Whereas some issues, such as economy-saving obligations or long-term building renovations, are solved more independently in cities or households, some issues have to be dealt with at the cross-border level within the framework of collective actions.
Indeed, energy management depends on a range of choices, technologies, and know-how aimed at optimising the energy budgets of consumers, and also of public authorities, when it comes to reducing infrastructure costs or reducing environmental impact.

Cross-border cooperation in the energy sector can help find solutions to various types of challenges:

  • economic: while the development of renewable energy sources and the promotion of energy efficiency could bring economic and financial benefits in the medium to long term, in the short term they represent costly investments. Cross-border cooperation can enable businesses to form partnerships in the adoption of low-carbon technologies and the management of energy costs.
  • technical: the linking up of energy grids at borders, and the deployment of cross-border smart grids would also help meet the energy needs if the population without investing in additional production.
  • geographic: the difficulties in energy provision in rural or isolated areas (islands, outermost regions) could notably be overcome, through the development of local energy production.
  • political: neighbouring local authorities can choose to work together to develop joint low carbon strategies and harmonise regulations.
  • societal: cooperation between territories can contribute towards preventing energy insecurity, while also stimulating the economy and the creation of new jobs.

The efforts made in research and development can also be shared, enriched by the methods and progress made in the neighbouring country.

Photo copyright: European Union, 2013