Energy Union: EU’s effort towards a cleaner climate with integrated energy market

Miguel Arias Cañete, Member of the EC in charge of Climate Action and Energy, holds a press conference on the State of the Energy Union.
Date: 24/11/2017. Location: Brussels – EC/Berlaymont. © European Union , 2017 Source: EC – Audiovisual Service. Photo: Lukasz Kobus

The European Commission published its third annual energy report last Friday showing the progress that has been made so far since the last report in February of this year. Many policies’ amendments have been proposed for the next decade towards a greener environment and a more harmonised EU gas market. The majority of the EU countries are aligned to their 2020 goals on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

However, the fact that energy consumption figures are increasing leads to a deceleration of the progress. This was indicated at the new analysis of the European Environment Agency (EEA) which proposes to EU member states to keep energy consumption under control and speed up the decarbonisation of the EU energy system.

Third State of the Energy Union Report

The Third Report on the State of the Energy Union which was published by the European Commission last week showed that the EU is changing into to a low-carbon society. The transition can be feasible though only through an infrastructure which meets the needs of the interconnected energy system. Both the Vice-President responsible for the Energy Union and Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy commented on the issue.

More specifically, Maroš Šefčovič mentioned that: “The Energy Union will only succeed if we all pull in the same direction. The aim is to deliver on our commitment to complete the Energy Union by the end of the Commission’s current mandate. By 2019, the Energy Union must no longer be a policy but a daily reality benefitting every European citizen. This will require increased ownership by all parts of society. Therefore, I see the next year as the year of engagement”. Furthermore, Miguel Arias Cañete stated: “Europe’s energy transition is well underway, with record levels of renewable energy and rapidly falling costs. But Europe’s energy infrastructure must develop in the same direction and with the same speed to fully support this energy transition. That’s why we are proposing to focus the new list of projects on key electricity interconnections and smart grids. Today’s steps to boost clean energy infrastructure are another important move towards making our energy system more sustainable, more competitive and more secure – providing genuine European added value”.

Will the EU meet its energy targets?

The new assessment report of the EEA analyses national data on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy consumption and shows that the EU will not meet its 2030 goals. According to Hans Bruyninckx, the EU has to work hard now in order to achieve its objectives. More in detail, EEA Executive Director said: “Thanks to earlier efforts, the EU is on track to reach its 2020 targets. Our assessment shows that this is not yet the case for the 2030 objectives. Given the time lag between planning and results, now is the time to start working towards 2030. In 2018, Member States need to come up with robust and ambitious national energy and climate plans, to channel investments and innovation towards an efficient, decarbonised EU energy system, and to address the lack of progress in the transport sector.”

MEPs support renewable energy targets

It was yesterday when the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in favour of increasing energy efficiency and renewable targets. This decision is very crucial as a 40% efficiency goal and national targets for 2030 will be legally binding. These ambitious objectives, even if approved by only one vote, show that the EU is attempting to keep its promises of the Paris Agreement and increase clean energy to every EU member state.

However, a full-scale cooperation between the European Commission, the national governments and every society is needed in order not only to keep the current energy and climate targets on track but also overpass them. Thus, the reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions together with the increase of renewables could reverse the current situation and prevent the temperature from increasing by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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