8 March 2016 – Energy Union: How does Civil Society engage?
As emphasised by Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the Energy Union, 2016 will be the year of delivery for the Energy Union. For this reason, Green Budget Europe is focusing on building and putting forward robust proposals for an effective and efficient governance strategy.
In order to facilitate and promote the discussion around governance and the Energy Union, Green Budget Europe hosted a capacity-building workshop bringing together more than 30 representatives of the European Commission (DG Energy and European Semester), GBE national and EU experts, and civil society organisations.
Leonardo Zannier from the European Commission´s DG Energy kicked off the event by providing an overview of the current discussions regarding the Energy Union. In particular, he presented the most substantial steps that the European Commission seeks to take in the next three years to develop the Energy Union governance system. These include the integration of a strong and streamlined planning & reporting process for Member States and the EU.
Mark Johnston (Senior Adviser, European Policy Centre) and Imke Lübbeke (Head of Unit, EU Climate and Energy Policy, WWF European Policy Office) addressed the main obstacles to the implementation of a new governance system. In their presentations, they raised doubts over the planned “streamlining process” (merging different planning and reporting processes together), warning that this might hinder fundamental principles like transparency, accountability, legitimacy, policy coherence and effectiveness.
An open question, for example, is whether the “better regulation agenda” will result in excessive streamlining and harmonisation at the expense of accuracy, accountability and legitimacy. Furthermore, as Johnston suggested, this transition process is currently delayed by a number of unrelated events (the refugee crisis, Brexit, etc.) that might have significant political implications for internal relations at the EU level. Lübbeke also stressed the importance of long-term planning obligations to enhance the transition to a low-carbon economy, as outlined in the Paris Agreement.
Finally, Constanze Adolf, Vice-Director of Green Budget Europe, highlighted the main lessons learned from GBE´s work on the European Semester – the EU’s annual monitoring cycle for macro-economic surveillance. The current discussions around the Energy Union Governance prompted Adolf to point out the strengths and weaknesses of the European Semester’s structure and monitoring role, and how this could be transferred – if ever – to the Energy Union.
The workshop ended with an open discussion on the best practices for civil society engagement and the importance of a structured dialogue with policy makers regarding the Energy Union.
- ‘Energy Union: What is in it for climate and energy governance?’ – presentation by Leonardo Zannier (Policy Officer, Energy policy coordination, European Commission, DG Energy)
- ‘Energy Workshop’ – presentation by Mark Johnston (Senior Adviser, European Policy Centre)
- Presentation by Imke Lübbeke (Head of Unit, EU Climate and Energy Policy, WWF European Policy Office)
- ‘The European Semester system of economic governance’ – presentation by Thomas Bernheim (European Semester Officer, Belgium)
- ‘Energy Union governance: Lessons learned from the European Semester’ – presentation by Constanze Adolf (Vice-Director, GBE)
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