The Energy Union: from vision to reality

Sefcovic 2019

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.European Union, 2019 Photographer: Georges Boulougouris Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

The fourth report on the State of the Energy Union, adopted today, shows that the Commission has fully delivered on its vision of an Energy Union strategy guaranteeing accessible, affordable, secure, competitive and sustainable energy for all Europeans.

Europe is already a global leader in fighting climate change. European policies implemented over the last five years in all policy areas have put the EU on the right track to fully embrace the clean energy transition, seizing the economic opportunities that it offers, creating growth and jobs and a healthier environment for consumers.

Beyond modernising European energy and climate policy, the Energy Union boosts the clean energy transition of the European economy in key sectors, in line with our commitments under the Paris Agreement, while ensuring a socially fair transition. Building a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate and energy policy has been one of the political priorities of the Juncker Commission. Today we take stock of the successful implementation of what was but a vision in 2014 of a unified, interconnected, secure and sustainable Energy Union. The report is accompanied by two documents showing progress made in renewable energy and energy efficiency. In parallel the Commission is also putting forward a report on the implementation of the strategic action plan on batteries and a communication for more efficient and democratic decision making in EU energy and climate policy.

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of the Energy Union, said: “The Energy Union is Europe at its best: tackling together the big energy security and energy transition we can’t solve within national borders. From the daunting challenge of the energy transition we made an economic opportunity for all Europeans. To do this, we had to truly transform our energy and climate policies: not just tweaks at the margins but systemic change. No Member State could have delivered on its own. Our report shows how all the Energy Union measures combine to make our policy fit for the future. Today, our framework redirects investments into future oriented technologies and solutions. We have also kick-started measures for industry such as battery manufacturing in Europe, while making sure we’re not leaving any European behind in the transition. It is now for each Member State to follow suit and rapidly integrate national measures on energy, climate, mobility and all other related areas, so Europe leads the way towards climate neutrality by mid-century.”

Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: Europe has now in place the world’s most ambitious and advanced climate and energy framework. We agreed all the legislation to meet our 2030 targets, with higher targets for renewables and energy efficiency. But the Energy Union is more than rules and policies: we mobilised record levels of clean energy investments in Europe, we brokered the Paris Agreement and triggered its quick entry into force, we further integrated the European energy market, and we set a long-term vision for climate neutral Europe by 2050. But we still have a long way to go. We need to keep up the deployment of renewable energy across Europe and step up efforts to save more energy. We must embark in a process of transformation with a much greater sense of urgency than I see today. With our climate-neutral strategy by 2050, wehave sketched out how this can be done, and presented a solid analysis of why and how Europe can achieve climate neutrality; why this model can be replicated by other countries in the world; how climate neutrality, economic prosperity and social fairness can and must go together.”

The Energy Union has strengthened the internal energy market and increased the EU’s energy security by investing into new smart infrastructure (including, cross-border), providing a new state-of-the-art market design and introducing a cooperation mechanism between the Member States based on solidarity to respond to potential crises in a more effective and efficient manner.

As the Commission has recently set out in its Communication “A Clean Planet for All”, the energy transition requires a comprehensive economic and societal transformation, engaging all sectors of the economy and society to achieve the transition to climate neutrality by 2050. The Energy Union framework puts Europe on the right path to become a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy.

The Juncker Commission has put in place a brand new legislative framework for the Energy Union. The updated legislative framework has enabled the EU to maintain its leadership in climate action by increasing its level of ambition for 2030 in a number of energy related sectors, from increased targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency, to targets on emissions from cars, vans and lorries. In addition to the new legislative framework, the Commission has put in place an enabling framework of supporting measures toensure a smooth transition for European industries, regions and cities. A number of targeted initiatives have been created to guarantee all regions and citizens benefit equally from the energy transition. One of these initiatives is the European battery alliance.

The European battery industry has been identified as a strategic value chain for the EU in the context of a strengthened industrial policy strategy. The Energy Union report is accompanied by a separate report on the implementation of the strategic action plan on batteries.

A second Communication published today calls for a strengthening of the democratic accountability of the decision-making process under the Euratom treaty. The European Commission will establish a High Level Group of Experts to assess the state of play of the Euratom Treaty with a view to considering how, on the basis of the current Treaty, its democratic accountability could be improved.

In the same communication, the Commission asks the European Parliament and the Council to reflect on how energy taxation could better contribute to the EU’s energy and climate policy objectives, and how a move to qualified majority voting (QMV) decision-making amongst Member States could help to unlock progress in this area. This strand of work builds on the Commission’s blueprint for a gradual transition to QMV decision-making in all areas of taxation, first published in January.

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