Answer to a written question – Horizon 2020 funding for shale gas exploitation risks – E-005617/2014

Parliamentary questions

18 August 2014

E-005617/2014

Answer given by Ms Geoghegan-Quinn on behalf of the Commission

The EU’s long term objective is to become a resource-efficient low carbon economy. In the short to medium term, natural gas — which may include shale gas — can play a role in the transformation of the energy sector from a de-carbonization point of view(1) as well as in terms of energy security.

Each Member State has the responsibility to decide whether it will allow prospecting, exploration and/or production of shale gas within its jurisdiction. Such a decision should be taken with due regard to existing EC law and in particular, the EU environmental acquis. Research and science is needed to provide data feeding into today’s debate, in line with the Union policy on the environment as stated in Article 191(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU(2).

Call H2020-LCE-2014-1 of the Horizon 2020 Energy Challenge(3) invites proposals addressing the understanding, prevention and mitigation of the potential environmental impacts of shale gas exploration and exploitation. The scope of the shale gas topic in the call aims at providing a knowledge base and scientific recommendations for best practices to minimise the environmental footprint of shale gas extraction. In line with the Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation, the call is open to multi-partner consortia, which can include all stakeholders, i.e. industry, research institutes, universities and NGOs. The topic should therefore not be seen as a subsidy to gas companies.

Thus the Commission is ensuring that support for research on unconventional hydrocarbons is fully consistent with the EU’s core environmental principles and policy objectives, in line with the Horizon 2020 Specific Programme as agreed by the Council in 2013.

(1) Provided its air emissions are properly controlled, that it substitutes more carbon intensive fossil fuels and does not replace renewable energy sources. (Commission Communication on the exploration and production of hydrocarbons (such as shale gas) using high volume hydraulic fracturing in the EU, COM(2014) 23 final/2 p.5 and 11).

(2) http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/wcm/the-lisbon-treaty/treaty-on-the-functioning-of-the-european-union-and-comments/part-3-union-policies-and-internal-actions/title-xx-environment-climate-change/479-article-191.html

(3) http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/opportunities/h2020/calls/h2020-lce-2014-1.html

Last updated: 21 August 2014

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