Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

To make a contribution to improving the long-term world energy situation and, therefore, the energy security of the EU itself, by helping other countries to take effective decisions on energy. Emphasis is also placed on the environmental impact of energy.


SYNERGY is an international energy cooperation programme which was first established in 1980 as one of the Community's responses to the international energy crises in the 1970s and the energy needs of developing countries. It is aimed particularly at improving cooperation between the EU and non-Community developing countries in the energy sector through the promotion of targeted energy programming, provision of technical assistance, training and energy market analyses and the promotion of industrial cooperation (including the transfer of European energy technologies and know-how) and exchanges in the energy field with the countries concerned.

In this context, the programme covers the principal energy consuming developing countries in Latin America, the Mediterranean region, Asia and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the independent republics of the former Soviet Union.

The SYNERGY programme complements the Community's other specific energy programmes (e.g. THERMIE, SAVE, and ALTENER) and assistance programmes which contain an energy element (e.g. PHARE and TACIS) by:

- Concentrating solely on the energy sector and its associated problems;
- Covering all non-Community developing countries, therefore having the capacity to cut across the boundaries which exist between other Community programmes (for instance, PHARE is limited to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and TACIS to the independent states of the former Soviet Union);
- Facilitating the prompt taking of decisions on actions eligible for funding under the programme.

Since its inception in 1980, the programme has evolved to match the needs of the developing countries involved, world energy trends and the growing links between energy and other policies, in particular environmental issues, which have become an increasingly important consideration under the programme.

Following the political and economic transformation of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, SYNERGY has placed an increasing emphasis on the energy needs of this region, particularly through the development of actions aimed at facilitating the implementation of the European Energy Charter in these countries. The part of the programme targeted on the transitional economies of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (sometimes referred to under the subheading "Focus on the East") comprises concrete actions aimed at:

- Energy planning in a market-based economy either at national, regional or city levels;
- Identifying the measures required to promote joint ventures for third party financing;
- Restructuring of main energy sectors;
- Studying energy conservation in the residential and industrial sectors.


Two main areas:

- Aid for energy (incorporating planning at national and regional level and organizational support for the implementation of energy policy, in particular by the creation of institutions, e.g. energy centres);

- Assistance for the implementation of medium and long-term energy policies.


The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme which is established on an annual basis by the General Budget of the European Communities. The programme operates closely with national and local administrations, regional associations, such as ASEAN and OLADE (the Latin American Organization for Energy Development) and international initiatives such as the International Cooperative Programme on Energy and Development (COPED), which is a network of energy research institutes in seven developing countries and two Eastern European countries.

Whilst a number of projects have been implemented at the national level, the trend in recent years has been to encourage cooperative projects between countries within a region, such as South-East Asia or Latin America. Moreover, work carried out within the COPED network has bolstered this approach by stimulating South-South and North-South cooperation.

The projects financed under the SYNERGY programme are defined by the Directorate General for Energy (DG XVII) in close collaboration with the beneficiary countries. The projects are carried out by European companies selected in the framework of restricted calls for tender. In recent years, priority has been given to projects which fall into the following categories:

- Direct support to the implementation of the principles and provisions of the European Energy Charter and the cooperation agreements with non-Community countries (seminars, workshops, training, etc.);
- The application of EC energy policy principles, where appropriate (studies, pricing, etc.);
- Institution building in the energy sector, including advice to public administrations in non-Community countries;
- Trans boundary projects, including the promotion of the interconnection of energy networks;
- Coordination aimed at optimizing the results of all EC assistance programmes and projects (for example the establishment of EC Energy Centres in Hungary and Albania in cooperation with PHARE and THERMIE, and in India, Indonesia and China in cooperation with funds from the Directorate General for External Relations).

In 1994, roughly ECU 8 million was made available to activities covered by the programme, about half of which was absorbed by the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the independent states of the former Soviet Union. The budget was indented to cover the costs of:

- Analyses for the main use sectors, in order to provide the best possible overview of the potential for saving energy or introducing renewable energy sources;
- Organization of meetings between industrialists in the Community and those in non-member countries and of information workshops;
- Preparatory analyses, to enable European industrialists to carry out joint operations in non-member countries, to evaluate obstacles and to find partners, incorporating the establishment of joint ventures and the evaluation of their sources of financing;
- Financial contributions to bodies and institutions engaged in exchanges with non-member countries in the energy field, particularly in the context of the European Energy Charter;
- Information measures and schemes for training technicians and/or engineers;
- Technical and, where appropriate, administrative support for the European Energy Charter.

In addition, the programme budget covers expenditure on research, meetings of experts, conferences and congresses, and limited contributions to relevant information and publications.
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