Energy Union

Energy UnionWill the EU wait for a wholesale energy crisis before a binding process to decarbonise its energy supplies?

Energy Union emerged in 2014 as a new EU vehicle to shape policy-making for the sector. However, there have been tensions from the very beginning. Some Member States want to use Energy Union to burn greater quantities of fossil fuel, while more progressive countries see Energy Union as a framework to decarbonise.

On Wednesday 20 June 2018, the EU Commission, the Parliament and the Council reached a crucial agreement on the governance of the Energy Union, particularly important for the EU’s 2030 energy and climate targets: reduction of 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, a minimum of 32 % renewables in the EU energy mix and the 32.5 % goal of energy efficiency savings. More precisely, the document presents the process that rules the work of the EU Member States and the Commission in view to walk towards an efficient, secured and decarbonised Energy Union relying on innovation and competitiveness.

In this regard, the EU countries are required to present an “Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan” in December 2019 for the period 2021 to 2030, and every ten years thereafter. Besides, they must report on the progress they make on a biennial basis. The EU Commission will then analyse the data provided through this process, and issue specific recommendations where/if needed.

Despite the undeniable importance of this agreement, there is still a lack of ambition at EU level in order to be able to lead the international commitments made, particularly in the context of the Paris Agreement. On the one hand, the binding renewable energy target for 2030 of 32% is below the 35% proposed by the EU Parliament and the 45% recommended by  international experts. Likewise, the 32.5% objective for energy efficiency is exactly in between the 30% and 35% respectively introduced by the EU Council and the Parliament, and well below the 40% advised by professionals in the field . Besides, this is a non-binding figure, whereby its relevance will most likely depend on the performance of the different member states across Europe. 

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