Towards a Sustainability-Oriented Energy Union
Towards a sustainability-oriented Energy Union
Green Budget Europe, CEE Bankwatch and EEB assessment of the Energy Union Country factsheets
Since 2015 the European Commission has been working towards integrated continent-wide low-carbon policies and an energy system that aims to support a fundamental transformation of the EU energy system. The Energy Union Strategy as one of the 10 key priorities for the current European Commission aims to provide “secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy”.
In order to understand where each Member State stands regarding the five dimensions of the Energy Union, the European Commission published so-called Country factsheets. These factsheets use a set of comparable indicators in order to ensure coherence and consistency across the 28 Member States’ performance.
Green Budget Europe, CEE Bankwatch and the EEB have carried out an assessment of the Country factsheets among our network of members and national experts for their country. On the basis of this analysis, we’ve developed recommendations that would make the Energy Union consistent with this trajectory to a sustainable and low-carbon society by stimulating investor certainty and innovation, and creating new jobs.
We conclude that the Country factsheets need substantial improvement and more stakeholder consultation to provide high quality information. They should function as an alert mechanism for early action and thus complement the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). They should help the EU Commission and Member States to identify and prevent potential climate- and energy-related policy shortfalls early on, and correct those that are already in place. When the EU Commission identifies difficulties, it should automatically trigger a response from the Commission.
Because climate change and low-carbon transition are among the biggest risks to economic stability, we recommend a strong link to the European Semester. Such a “whole economy” approach could build confidence among investors, the public and internationally in the EU’s commitment to deliver the low-carbon transition after Paris.
Use the opportunity: Environmental Fiscal Reform
Although the Energy Union will cover energy prices, especially consumer prices, environmental taxation, tax shift and fossil fuel subsidies are completely missing. Environmental Fiscal Reform is commonly understood as a package of measures combining an increase of taxes on energy or natural resources, the elimination of environmentally harmful subsidies and targeted government spending towards environmental sustainability with a revenue-redistribution component to protect and/or enhance social equity. To further this, national Environmental Fiscal Reforms (EFR) should be accelerated via the European Semester; and Member States’ national public spending and investment plans should be checked against their delivery on sustainable development. A win-win also for the Energy Union.