Empowering Europe’s Electricity Market

Unlike humans some jellyfish are self-sufficient electricity providers. Courtesy of x3nomik/flickr

Europe is talking energy and there is no easy way out of existing dilemmas: While nuclear and fossil-fueled power plants entail considerable risks, most sources of alternative energy are not yet considered mature enough to fuel Europe’s economies on their own. Like elsewhere across the globe, Europeans are facing tough challenges in their attempt to secure a clean, reliable and affordable power supply.

As in every crisis, the risk looms that countries just look after their own narrowly-defined national interests and either ignore or forget the advantages of a regionally coordinated approach. In their struggle for secure energy, European nations should not lose sight of the potential of the common electricity market. In the long run, it could play a crucial role in enabling a more efficient energy future both from an economic and an ecological point of view. Yet, many obstacles still need to be overcome at the moment.

In an integrated market, electricity could be exchanged efficiently across the continent, connecting demand to the most inexpensive supply no matter where in Europe. Consumers could benefit from choosing from a wide range of suppliers, which in turn would boost competition and innovation. Currently, however, the European electricity markets remain regionally fragmented. Countries and companies are not investing enough in transmission capacities across national borders because they struggle to agree on the financial burden-sharing of these expensive projects. As long as national grids are not fully interconnected, trade cannot evolve.

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Misguided Priorities for Internet Governance

Server room, courtesy of Torkild Retvedt/flickr

Server room, courtesy of Torkild Retvedt/flickr

This is a cross-post from the Lowy Institute’s blog, The Interpreter.

If you had to choose between human rights and governance, which one would you pick? Most might go for human rights, but when it comes to the internet, that would be the wrong answer.

In February, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held its last preparatory meeting before the 2011 annual meeting, due to take place in Nairobi. The IGF was created following the UN World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) held in Tunis in 2005. The summit was an attempt to internationalise internet governance and make it more open.

The summit had four principal goals: ensuring the access, openness, development and security of the internet. The WSIS attempted to shape a new form of internet governance, that would give more power to international organisations and less power to the private sector organisations like the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Since no agreement was reached in Tunis, UN member states agreed to mandate the IGF to continue discussions on internet governance. » More

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ISN Insights – Week Ahead, Look Back

It's week 13 on our 2011 editorial calendar, Photo: Leo Reynolds/flickr

Coming up this week in our ISN Insights coverage:

  • On Monday, Johns Hopkins’ fellow Dr John CK Daly takes a closer look at the Libyan combat christening of the US military’s new Africa Command.
  • SOAS Professor Robert F Ash examines China’s looming food crisis on Tuesday.
  • On Wednesday, Simon Saradzhyan from Harvard University’s Kennedy School dissects Russia’s looming conscription crisis.
  • Director of the Lowy Poll Project Fergus Hanson opines about the untapped potential of social media for the IR community on Thursday.
  • Dr Simon Mason of the Center for Security Studies discusses peace mediation in our Friday podcast.

And in case you missed last week’s coverage, you can check it out here: Kazakhstan’s strategic dialogue initiatives; India’s Look East Policy; the new wave of political crackdowns in Zimbabwe; the challenges of statebuilding; and a podcast on some common misperceptions about the ICC.

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A Bolivian Seaside Drama

Building Bridges to the Sea? photo: Señor Hans, flickr

Earlier this week, Bolivia threatened to take Chile before an international court after Chile failed to respond to a deadline set for negotiations to settle a more than 100-year-old dispute between the two nations on questions of access to the Pacific Ocean.

Mr Morales was speaking on Bolivia’s “Day of the Sea”, the day when it commemorates its defeat by Chile in the 19th Century War of the Pacific: “Our fight for maritime re-vindication, which has marked our history for 132 years, must now include another element”, he said at the ceremony in La Paz. “We must go to international tribunals and organizations to demand free and sovereign access to the sea.”

Responding, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said that Santiago sees any negotiation on this matter with La Paz as a “serious obstacle” to their already strained relations. “Bolivia cannot expect a direct, frank and sincere dialogue while it simultaneously manifests its intention to go to international tribunals,” he said. » More

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All Eyes on Libya

Libyan Uprising, by Libyan_Uprising.svg: Rafy, en:User:Interchange88 derivative work: War.dog (Libyan_Uprising.svg) [CC0 (creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Libyan Uprising (Source WikiCommons)

How do you follow the situation in Libya? Where do you get your background information from?

Here is a selection of fascinating links we’ve come across:

We’ve missed your favourite source of information? Leave us a comment!

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