As expected, Wednesday's EU summit made some welcome progress on combating tax evasion. A deal on automatic information exchange on overseas bank accounts was reached and negotiations with five European tax havens, including Switzerland, are to start swiftly. Meanwhile, an agreement on legislation on VAT fraud is set to be finalised next month. European Council President Herman van Rompuy told reporters that there was "a strong political will at international level to tackle tax evasion."
But just as significant were the talks between EU leaders on energy policy.
Europe relies heavily on oil and gas imports with the European Commission estimating that, on current trends, imports of gas will increase to 80% of the gas consumed in the EU by 2035. In 2012, the 27 countries in the EU imported a whopping €406 billion worth of oil, gas and coal - equivalent to 3.2% of the bloc's GDP.
The emphasis on diversifying supply and reducing prices also marks a shift in tone of industrial and energy policy away from focusing primarily on climate change. Earlier this week, in an interview with German daily Die Welt, Industry Commissioner Gunther Oettinger warned that "if we in Europe do not respond to the energy price gap in global competition, we will not be able to compete in 10 years".
The Commission is also working on draft guidelines for shale gas exploration and extraction which are likely to include tough environmental standards.
At his post-summit press conference, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned that the "global energy landscape is changing quickly and not in Europe's favour." This is undeniably true, higher energy prices in the midst of a lingering recession puts the UK and the rest of Europe at a big competitive disadvantage. An over reliance on imports leaves us at the mercy of gas producing countries, including Russia, who control the price of energy.
A number of European countries, including Britain, have been looking enviously at the shale gas boom that has taken place in the United States. which has caused a dramatic fall of over 50 per cent in energy prices since 2008.
Shale gas was also the first topic raised by David Cameron at his post-summit media briefing. "Europe has 75 percent as much shale gas as the US, yet the Americans are drilling 10,000 wells per year while we in Europe are drilling less than 100," he noted.
He added it is "no surprise that over the last decade Americans have increased their energy from shale from just 1 percent to 30 percent, and here in Europe we are now paying twice what the US pays for wholesale gas."
While Cameron offered strong support for shale gas extraction, Barroso and van Rompuy also gave clear indications that shale gas could be part of Europe's energy future.
Statistics indicate that revenues from shale gas extraction led to a 0.5 per cent increase in US GDP in 2012 and over $300 billion (€240 billion) of new revenues. It has also led to 're-industrialisation' in a number of American states, with thousands of jobs required to develop the infrastructure needed to extract and then transport the gas.
Speaking ahead of the summit, an EU diplomatic source told me that "migration of energy prospectors and jobs from Europe to the US is a real prospect".
Although a co-ordinated move towards extracting shale gas is unlikely - France and Germany are among a group of countries that currently have a moratorium on fracking - it is likely that a number of countries will press ahead for economic and political reasons.
Meanwhile, the likes of Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, all of which have large untapped resources of natural gas, are highly reliant on Russia's Gazprom for their energy supply.
Nobody should kid themselves that shale gas will be a magic wand for European economies, even if environmental concerns can be overcome. Unlike the US, many EU countries do not have a history of oil and gas exploration, and much work would be required to assess the geology of potential sites. But diversifying supply and exploiting natural gas deposits could allow businesses to compete and give European countries more control over their energy destiny.