Taking it Step by Step: Europe Forges Ambitious Agreement on Energy Efficiency and Governance Principles for an Energy Union
Vienna, June 28, 2018 – June proved a turbulent month, with the European Commission, Parliament and Council negotiating a multi-faceted, ambitious political framework, paving the way for the EU to bolster its leadership role in the fight against climate change, the clean energy transition and meeting the goals set by the Paris Agreement. This framework includes a set of new governance rules for a European Energy Union – a common project aimed at ensuring that all Europeans have access to secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy. This new governance system will enable the European Union to realise its goals of becoming world leader on renewables, putting priority on energy efficiency and set the course for the EU's strategy long-term greenhouse gas reduction.
On June 19, a political agreement on new rules for improving energy efficiency in Europe was reached between negotiators from the Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council. It is the third of eight legislative proposals in the Clean Energy for All Europeans package (presented by the European Commission on 30 November 2016). Before, on 14 June, another political agreement was reached on the revised Renewable Energy Directive, and already on 14 May, the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive was adopted. Thus progress towards making the Energy Union a reality is well under way and the work initiated by the Juncker Commission is being delivered.
The key feature of the new regulatory framework is stipulation of a binding renewable energy target for the EU for 2030 of 32% with an upwards revision clause by 2023, thus contributing to the Commission's political priority as expressed by President Juncker in 2014 for the European Union, namely to become the world number one in renewables. This priority was also underscored by Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete, who noted: "Renewables are good for Europe, and today, Europe is good at renewables.“ True, at present, Europe was still by far the largest importer of fossil fuel worldwide, but this was going to change, Arias Cañete said. “This deal is a major push for Europe's energy independence. Much of what we spend on imported fossil fuels will now be invested at home in more efficient buildings, industries and transport.“
The new rules are also expected to generate a marked increase in public and private investment in innovation and modernisation in all key sectors of the economy, deliver real energy savings in the period 2021-2030 and beyond, tackle existing market, behavioural and regulatory barriers in order to increase the security of supply, competitiveness of EU industries. Last but not least, the consumer will benefit educe energy bills of consumers and health costs for society, thereby also addressing energy poverty and exploiting the positive impacts on economic growth and employment.
In addition, each Member State has to prepare a national energy and climate plan for the period 2021 to 2030, covering all the five dimension of the Energy Union and taking into account the longer-term perspective. These national plans would be comparable throughout the EU. The final plans will ensure that the 2030 climate and energy targets will be reached in a coherent, collaborative and least-cost way across the EU.
Following this political agreement, the text of the Regulation still has to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council.
Long-term Strategy Planned
The new framework marks a major step on the path towards a transition towards clean energy, noted Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete: „For the first time we will have an Energy Union Governance, fixed in the European Union rule book, encompassing all sectors of the energy policy and integrating climate policy in line with the Paris Agreement. ...One thing is certain, with the Energy Union governance we have the necessary stepping stone for the preparation of Long-Term Strategy to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases that are warming up the planet and changing the climate.“
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