To facilitate its transition away from fossil fuels towards clean energy and to deliver on the European Union’s commitments to the Paris Agreement, the EU embarked in 2019 on a comprehensive update of its energy policy framework. This new energy rulebook – known as the Clean Energy for All Europeans package – marks a significant step towards the implementation of the energy union strategy adopted in 2015.
The energy union strategy was a key priority of the Juncker Commission (2014-2019). It aimed at building an energy union between EU Member States that gives EU consumers, i.e. households and businesses, secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy. It relied on five related and mutually reinforcing dimensions:
- Security, solidarity and trust by diversifying Europe’s sources of energy and ensuring energy security through solidarity and cooperation
- An integrated internal energy market enabling the free flow of energy between member states without technical or regulatory barriers
- Energy efficiency
- Climate action and decarbonization of the economy
- Research, innovation, and competitiveness
The Clean Energy for all Europeans package consists of a set of legislative acts which will bring considerable benefits from consumer, environmental and economic perspectives. It also underlines EU leadership in tackling global warming and provides an important contribution to the block’s long-term strategy of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. It is expected that these legislations will be passed by the European Parliament in the course of 2020. The main set of legislative acts are:
- Energy Performance in Buildings; which aims at achieving a highly energy-efficient and decarbonized building stock by 2050 and to create stable investment conditions to foster investments in the renovation of buildings. Buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU, making them the single largest energy consumer in Europe. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directives also outlines specific measures for the building sector to tackle potential challenges.
- Renewable Energy Directives; The EU has an ambitious target of having 32% of all energy come from renewable energy sources by 2030. The new Directive gives citizens, who produce their own renewable energy, a clear right to consume, store or sell their generated energy, including through power purchase agreements. Further, the Directive enables participation in ‘renewable energy communities’ which are also entitled to produce renewable energy. These communities are autonomous legal entities based on open and voluntary participation with the purpose of providing environmental, economic or social community benefits for its shareholders or members rather than financial profits.
- Energy Efficiency Directive; which puts energy efficiency as a key objective. The EU has set a binding target of at least 32.5% energy efficiency by 2030. To reach this target, Member States collectively have to achieve new energy savings of 0.8% each year between 2021-2030.
- Planning Guidelines: Each Member State is required to establish integrated 10-year national energy and climate plans for the period 2021-2030. Based on a common structure these plans outline how EU countries will achieve their respective targets on all dimensions of the energy union, including a longer-term view towards 2050.
- Electricity Market Design; The new electricity market aims to integrate the increased share of renewable energy sources and new technologies in a more flexible way to minimize supply risks. Through common energy market rules, clean energy coming from renewable energy sources can be produced in one country and delivered to consumers in another. This keeps prices in check by creating competition and allowing consumers to choose energy suppliers. By allowing a free movement of electricity between the Member States, electricity will be reached where it is most needed; thus, driving investments to provide security of supply whilst decarbonizing the energy system.
- Risk Preparedness Regulation; aiming to establish a framework to prevent, prepare for, and manage electricity crises. A great deal of collaboration between the Member States is essential to the success of this objective. Currently, Member States behave differently when it comes to risk preparedness; which tends to focus on the national context only. As described above, the EU’s goal is to create an EU wide electricity system where all national networks are integrated. Therefore, to minimize spill-over of crises across borders, the EU has established the Risk Preparedness Regulation which is aiming at increasing collaboration between the Member States and to improve the block’s ability to respond to crises.
- ACER Regulation; which is the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulations. It is responsible to coordinate, advise, monitor and electricity market design. ACER’s main areas of activity focus on supporting the integration of the European market; to monitor the well-functioning and transparency of the EU internal energy market; and to advise EU Institutions on trans-European energy infrastructure issues. The agency contributes by drafting framework guidelines, issuing non-binding opinions and recommendations to EU Institutions and national European regulatory authorities and issuing binding individual decisions on specific cases and conditions
Activity Rating: *** Moving Forward
It seems that the EU is taking serious steps towards establishing a solid base for cooperation and integration between its Member States in order to implement its energy policy. The “Clean Energy For All Europeans” package plays a key role in the European Union’s transition towards a climate-neutral economy. It complements what has been achieved from previous EU policies and responds to the needs of the current situation and commitment of the block, i.e. reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to honor the EU’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.
Having said that, EU policies rely on the willingness and ability of each Member State individually to act and to contribute. While the EU seems to be ambitious in its targets which tackle clean energy, CO2 emissions, and energy efficiency, EU policies, like those described above, do not reflect disparities and divergence in interest and views of its Members. Big economies such as Germany, France, and Italy seem to carry on their shoulders the task to make the EU succeed or fail. While the contribution of all Member States is crucial to the success of the EU, the EU still seems to be reluctant when it comes to motivate and persuade some of the second field players to act more fiercely and to increase their share of contribution to the EU common goal of tackling climate.
It is important that the EU starts to look at the differences between its Member States and start to set a minimum goal for each Member States to ensure coherence and to avoid that some countries or regions will be left behind.
Dear Ms. Ursula von der Leyen,
Climate Scorecard would like to express our support regarding EU efforts to curb carbon gas emissions. The policies l announced in 2019 are paving the way for greater collaboration and contribution from EU Members States to allow the EU to achieve its goals and meet its Paris Agreement commitments. But how will the EU ensure that all Member States are on board and are working together to achieve EU energy policy goals?
We look forward to your answer to this question.
With our respectful and best regards,
Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200
This post was submitted by Climate Scorecard EU Manager Ibrahim Abdel-Ati