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How Europe Can Create Energy Transparency

Diarmid O’Sullivan and Tom Mayne of Global Witness have a new opinion article in the Financial Times on the gas crisis – they frame the argument for transparency quite well:

So what can be done? The EU has attributes that, wielded intelligently, could give it some influence over the countries that supply its energy. Europe is a big market, a source of commercial finance and development aid and, more subtly, a source of legitimacy for governments abroad that often rest on shaky political foundations.

AsEuropeans, we need to know who supplies our oil and gas. We need toknow who owns the companies and what qualifies them to play the rolethat they do. We need to know how they price their energy and how muchrevenue they pay. We need to be assured that they came by theircontracts in an open and transparent manner.

So the EU should useits regulatory power to ensure that companies that trade in its energymarkets, or make use of its financial system, or raise capital in itssecurities markets, are subject to strict disclosure requirements. Fortoo long, some European banks have provided cover for shadowy interestsand opaque financial flows.

The EU can also exert pressure forgreater transparency via offers of aid and expertise toenergy-supplying countries. The EU is, after all, the world’s biggestaid donor. If the EU wants to guarantee reliable supplies, it haslittle choice but to insist that Russia, Ukraine and other suppliersmeet basic international standards of governance and ensure that theenergy trade is open to scrutiny.