DG Energy in Brussels
By being in the EU the UK is able to shape the legislation that defines how the nations of Europe trade with each other, instead of simply having to work with rules set by others. Of course, this principle only works when the UK government is turning up and sitting at the table. David Cameron and the Conservatives have shown a keeness to walk away and then complain that no-one is listening. Margaret Thatcher once famously complained that 'the rest of Europe is isolating itself from Great Britain.
Tackling environmental issues is one of the great success stories of the European Union because all the member states understand that they have to work together. Environmental challenges in one country impact on other countries so common solutions have to be found, and resources and expertise shared. Europe nations carry a large responsibility for the environmental challenges the world faces and it is right that Europe is committing huge resources and energy to addressing these challenges.
Change isn't only happening in departments at the Commission. As with most things, while policy is shaped in the Commission, the Council of Ministers and in the European Parliament, change is happening on the ground in thousands of municipalities across Europe. Bike hire initiatives like the Vélib programme launched in Paris are now copied in other cities like Brussels, London.
Recent arrivals to the EU such as Poland or the Czech Republic still have tram networks, other nations are having to redevelop them. The new tram networks in Dijon and Brest in France illustrate the value of joint procuement. The two cities reduced the bill for their new trams from around €140 million euros to around €105 million euros simply by placing a joint order. DG Energy in Brussels deals with everything from renewable energy to nuclear power, coal and oil, smart grids, and transmission across frontiers.