A seminar organised by EurActiv in the European Parliament on 30 June will look at the energy situation of the ten countries that joined the EU on 1 May 2004. EurActiv brings a rough overview of a complex situation.

EU accession negotiations have been a major driver for change in the energy sector in Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs).

The countries that joined the EU on 1 May 2004 have embarked on a long and painful restructuring process, converting or closing old soviet-style energy plants to meet the strict economic and environmental standards of the EU internal energy market - and incorporate thousands of pages of EU legislation into national law. This included the setting up of a regulatory body for the gas and electricity market and a nuclear safety authority.

In terms of energy-efficiency - the Commission's current priority - new member states are currently far behind the EU-15. According to Eurostat figures for the year 2001, it took about four times more tons of oil equivalent (Toe) to produce a GNP of one million Euro (Meur) in the EU-10 than it did in the EU-15.

According to the Commission's recent Energy Efficiency Green Paper, reducing energy consumption would improve the sustainability of the EU's energy sector by improving competitiveness and security of supply as well as reducing Europe's dependency on imports while contributing to meet the Kyoto Protocol target to curb greenhouse gas emissions (EurActiv, 23 June 2005).