Mid-way through the European Council, on Thursday evening 23 March, the leaders of the Twenty-Five had their main goal: to avoid divisions. For the first time, they sketched out a common energy policy - albeit timid - while avoiding controversy over economic patriotism, criticized in particular by France and Spain.
Member countries agreed on the broad outlines of a common energy policy, which would include speaking with one voice in the international arena and strengthening their internal market. They agreed to meet each year to assess progress. But they have "not yet reached conclusions on specific objectives" in energy, even if the European Commission has "received a mandate" to propose, acknowledged its president, José Manuel Barroso.
"In ten years, when you look back, you will realize that this very substantial debate has led to a new energy policy" in the EU, said the Austrian Chancellor, Wolfgang Schüssel, current President of the Union. He promised that "there is no question of establishing a new super bureaucracy in charge of energy", while Mr Barroso assured that Member States would not have to transfer new powers to the Commission.