Energy minister George Papanastasiou on Thursday took part in the EU-MED 9, a confab of EU energy ministers that decided to work together to turn the Mediterranean region into a green energy hub.

The gathering, also attended by European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, took place in Malta.

According to an official press release, in his address Papanastasiou said that as the energy crisis has shown, in the future we should avoid dependence on one or a few sources of energy.

Given the price volatility of conventional fuels, the shift to renewable energy sources (RES) is now a must, Papanastasiou noted.

He said that Cyprus, which remains energy-isolated, has set as a priority the interconnection of the island with the energy grids of neighbouring countries such as Greece, Israel and Egypt.

Papanastasiou added that in order to increase the contribution of RES to the energy mix, the country is going ahead with the upgrading of the electricity transmission and distribution networks and the installation of energy storage systems.

The summit wrapped up with the release of a joint statement, which stressed the commitment of the nine Mediterranean countries to continue efforts to strengthen energy security, ensuring affordable energy prices and accelerating the transition to green energy, on the basis the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality goal.

In their joint statement, the nine EU Ministers decided to identify an appropriate governance structure for setting up a steering committee with the participation of the Med-9 countries, to map out a work programme for addressing these goals.

“This will serve as a platform to realise the full potential for the Med region in the energy transition. The committee will include high-level representatives supported with technical and scientific experts,” the statement read.

The ministers further decided to coordinate efforts towards accelerating cross-border transmission and offshore infrastructures in the region, and to ensure that no Med-9 country is left out of opportunities for such ‘green’ investments.

They also decided to ask the European Commission to conduct a comprehensive report exploring and investigating the potential of the Mediterranean region to become a corridor of green energy transmission between non-EU countries and EU countries.

“We, the EU Med countries of Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain are coming together on the occasion of the First MED 9 Energy Ministerial summit of the Southern Countries of the European Union held in Malta on 18 May 2023. We are hereby confirming our commitment to ensure continuous efforts to improve energy security, energy affordability and to accelerate the transition towards renewable energy,” said the joint statement.

“This aligns with the European Union’s (EU) collective climate neutrality target to be reached by 2050. Beyond the challenges that exist in the Mediterranean region, we are committed to working as a region to build up clean, secure and diversified energy sources across the region.”