A Sting Exclusive, the European Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger writes for the Sting on “EU Industry: a major energizer”

GŸnter Oettinger, Member of the EC in charge of Energy.

Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner responsible for Energy

Written by Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner responsible for Energy 

In the European Union, energy and industry are two sides of the same coin. A strong industrial base is the precondition for the robustness of our economy, for the excellence of our research and for the number and quality of our jobs. Industry accounts for over 80% of Europe’s exports and 80% of private research and innovation. At the same time, energy affects 90% of economic activities, in particular intensive industries such as steel, chemicals, cement, glass, paper, automobiles and aeronautics. Such a close link needs to be reflected in both the energy policy and the industrial strategy of the European Commission. A strong industrial base is of vital importance to our economic and social model. This must be reflected in the way in which we define our energy and climate policies.

On 22 January the European Commission outlined plans for a climate and energy framework for 2030. One core goal is to reduce greenhouse-gas-emissions by 40% below the 1990 level by 2030. This is very ambitious, as it implies tripling the speed of reduction in emissions in the decade from 2020 to 2030 compared to the speed until 2020. Moreover, we have to bear in mind that the EU accounts for about 11% of worldwide greenhouse-gas-emissions. Therefore it cannot afford to walk ahead without anybody else joining behind, if it wants to preserve industrial competitiveness. We need to get global partners on board in our fight against climate change.

As regards the share of renewables in energy consumption, the Commission aims for a binding target of at least 27% at EU level. A new governance system shall ensure that this ambitious goal can be reached. Setting clear targets is important to provide legal certainty and confidence in order to trigger the necessary investment in renewables and the respective technology. We also have to renew our efforts as regards energy efficiency. The Commission is examining Member States’ progress in reaching their existing energy efficiency targets, and will assess and report on this by summer 2014. Effective energy efficiency measures will be crucial to reach the goals for 2030.

Together with the energy and climate framework for 2030, the Commission presented a study on the drivers of energy costs and prices in the EU. It shows among others that for industry the retail price for electricity rose by 3.5 % annually from 2008 to 2012. Companies in the EU pay twice as much for electricity than their competitors in the USA. For gas, they even have to shoulder the three- to fourfold. This is not sustainable for energy intensive European companies that face tough global competition. Hence, Europe needs to act. We need to ensure, at a minimum, that the price gap for gas and electricity does not continue to widen. The price study underlines how important it is to reach our energy and climate goals in a cost effective way.

EU Heads of State or Government discussed the Commission proposal at the summit of 21 March. An agreement on the future 2030 policy framework should be reached as quickly as possible – and no later than October 2014, in time for the climate talks in Paris in 2015. It is important that the EU acts now and thereby provides a predictable framework for companies: Investors in the energy sector consider 2020 to have taken place yesterday, and 2030 to come tomorrow.

One cannot discuss about Europe’s industrial competitiveness and energy policy without stressing the necessity of completing the internal energy market. Open markets are essential to encourage competitive energy prices and innovation. They stimulate the entry of new players to the market and therefore enable consumers to find cheaper and better services. The EU is taking steps to ensure that the internal market can work better, for example, by tackling distorting effects of energy subsidies and price controls. 

However, a prerequisite for a properly functioning internal market is a well-developed infrastructure. In order to accelerate the completion of the gas- and electricity networks the Commission has presented a list of so-called “Projects of Common Interest” in October last year. Around 250 projects listed benefit from accelerated licensing procedures and improved regulatory conditions and may have access to financial support from the Connecting Europe Facility. Under this facility a €5.85 billion budget has been allocated to trans-European energy infrastructure for the period 2014-20. The build-up of infrastructure is also an important pillar of our strategy to increase energy security: The gas crisis in 2009 has shown how important it is that Member States are well connected, so that they are able to help each other in times of need. In the light of the recent developments in Ukraine energy security is high on the agenda in Europe: The Commission will undertake a study on energy security and by June 2014 will present a comprehensive plan for the reduction of the EU’s energy dependence. 

One conclusion is unavoidable: In order to successfully master the challenges the EU currently faces in the field of energy, we need to further integrate our markets. A fragmented approach will not lead us much further, whereas a true “europeanisation” of energy policy will bring long-term benefits to both, citizens and businesses, in Europe.

About the Author

Günther Oettinger is the European Commissioner responsible for Energy. Mr Oettinger has been Member of the European Commission responsible for Energy since February 2010. Before moving to Brussels he was Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg in Germany from 2005 to 2010. Prior to that, he fulfilled various roles in the Christian Democratic Union and worked as lawyer and later as CEO of a firm of auditors/tax consultancy. Mr Oettinger studied law and economics in Tübingen. He was born on 15 October 1953 in Stuttgart and has one son.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

No great discovery was made without a bold guess – Isaac Newton

Ocean life faces ‘onslaught of threats’ from human activity, but tools exist to save it

How technology is driving a fourth wave of environmentalism

Sweden is fighting loneliness by housing older and younger generations together

Japan must urgently address long-standing concerns over foreign bribery enforcement

EU@UNGA 74: Working towards a more peaceful, secure and prosperous world

Do men and women really have different leadership styles?

INTERVIEW: Advancing human rights, a ‘never ending process’ says new UN rights chief

How regenerative agroforestry could solve the climate crisis

How has policy affected employment in small businesses in the US?

Young people demand a transparent job market: new campaign launches on international interns day

Brexit: Is there anybody supporting a non-violent separation?

Spring 2019 Standard Eurobarometer: Europeans upbeat about the state of the European Union – best results in 5 years

Mental health in the times of coronavirus

Juncker’s Investment Plan in desperate need for trust and funds from public and private investors

Parliament gives green light to EU-Singapore trade and investment protection deals

COVID-19 will hit the developing world’s cities hardest. Here’s why

Countering illegal hate speech online – EU Code of Conduct ensures swift response

Syrian Refugees in Germany face distinctly different challenges than those in Lebanon

Somalia: UN congratulates Puntland region’s newly-elected President

Reflections on the the biggest refugee crisis since World War II

FROM THE FIELD: Hardy seeds bear fruit to protect Colombia’s environment

UN health agency welcomes Facebook pledge to stop vaccine misinformation from going viral

European Elections: “Web giants” are urging users to vote

Huge areas of the Arctic are on fire – here’s what that means for the planet

Commission presents first reflections on building a strong social Europe for just transitions

Hostilities in Syria’s southwest, mean cuts in vital aid across Jordanian border: Senior UN official

These 4 skills can make the world better after COVID-19

3 leaders on creating a pipeline for female talent in business

Commission deepens criticism on German economic policies

EU deserves the title of the Syrian affair merchandiser

Erdogan’s electoral win on a ‘me or chaos’ dilemma means trouble for everybody

This is what happens when a school swaps french fries for quinoa

Who is to pay for Trump’s trade war against China?

COVID-19: MEPs urge quick action to prevent “huge recession”

Turkey to let EU alone struggle with the migrant crisis while enhancing its economic ties with Russia instead?

Universal Health Coverage in the EU: Are we really leaving no one behind?

Topic: Mental Health in times of pandemic: What can each individual do to lessen the burden?

Antitrust: Aspen proposes 73% price reduction for six off-patent cancer medicines to remove Commission’s excessive pricing concerns

Trump declares emergency and WHO urges speed – latest coronavirus updates

It’s ‘time for concrete action’ says UN chief, welcoming inter-Korean agreement

European Commission launches global coalition for biodiversity

Coronavirus: 23 new research projects to receive €128 million in EU funding

Climate change: won or lost in cities or by cities?

Ending extreme poverty crucial to sustainable future for all: UN chief

How Japan and Singapore are reinventing old age

Simple Technology Saving Lives: Remote Auscultation

A Sting Exclusive: Towards better business opportunities for the EU and its neighbours, Commissioner Hahn live from European Business Summit 2015

UN chief welcomes South Sudan’s Unity government, lauds parties for ‘significant achievement’

Spring 2020 Economic Forecast: A deep and uneven recession, an uncertain recovery

Migration: Commission steps up emergency assistance to Spain and Greece

Nuclear test ban treaty critical to global collective security – UN chief

Protecting Health Workers’ Safety Around the World

Human traffickers in Libya are posing as UN staff, says Refugee Agency

“If the job market doesn’t exist, then even the most brilliant Youth Guarantee cannot ensure a job to these young people”, European Youth Forum Secretary General Giuseppe Porcaro on another Sting Exclusive

A new generation of women leaders is making waves in the Arab world

Do the EU policies on agro-food smell?

EU and China seize momentum to enhance trade agreements in response to Trump’s administration

Businesses succeed internationally

International Women’s Day 2019: more equality, but change is too slow

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s