Energy Union: Commission calls on Member States to step up ambition in plans to implement Paris agreement

Ice 2019_

Jökulsárlón, Iceland (Jeremy Goldberg, Unsplash)

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


The Commission has today published its assessment of Member States’ draft plans to implement the EU’s Energy Union objectives, and in particular the agreed EU 2030 energy and climate targets.

The Commission’s assessment finds that the national plans already represent significant efforts but points to several areas where there is room for improvement, notably as concerns targeted and individualised policies to ensure the delivery of the 2030 targets and to stay on the path towards climate neutrality in the longer term. The European Union is the first major economy to put in place a legally binding framework to deliver on its pledges under the Paris Agreement and this is the first time that Member States have prepared draft integrated national energy and climate plans (NECPs). Yet, with plans currently falling short both in terms of renewables and energy efficiency contributions, reaching the EU’s overall climate and energy goals will require a collective step up of ambition.

Vice-President for the Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič said: ”These first national energy and climate plans bring the Energy Union to the national level: like the EU, Member States all present policies for the climate and energy transition in an integrated way and with a ten-year perspective. Member States have all produced impressive drafts in a relatively short time, but no draft is perfect. Final plans are due by the end of the year and our recommendations show where more effort is needed: for example, stronger ambition, more policy detail, better specified investment needs, or more work on social fairness. Clarity and predictability are a real competitive advantage for the European energy and climate policy. So let’s make the best of this opportunity and give the national plans a solid final push.

Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete said: “Last November we proposed that the European Union should become climate neutral by 2050. We have shown and led the way forward. It is good to see that a growing number of Member States are following our lead and working towards that goal. Having evaluated Member States draft national plans, I am positive about the significant efforts that have been made. However, in the final plans even more ambition is needed to set the EU on the right track in fighting climate change and modernising our economy. I invite the Council to open a debate around the main priorities identified by the Commission and help ensure that the final plans contain an adequate level of ambition.”

The EU is committed to delivering on its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to delivering secure, affordable and sustainable energy for its citizens. We have created a unique system of energy and climate governance where both the Union and its Member States plan together and deliver collectively on our 2030 targets and on a socially-fair and cost-effective transition to a climate neutral economy by 2050.

In its analysis of the draft national plans, the Commission looked at their aggregated contribution to meeting the EU’s Energy Union objectives and 2030 targets. As they stand, the draft NECPs fall short both in terms of renewables and energy efficiency contributions. For renewables, the gap could be as big as 1.6 percentage points. For energy efficiency, the gap can be as big as 6.2 percentage points (if considering primary energy consumption) or 6 percentage points (if considering final energy consumption).

The good news is that Member States now have 6 months to raise their national level of ambition. The Commission’s recommendations and detailed assessments aim to help Member States finalise their plans by the end of 2019, and to implement them effectively in the years to come. The national plans should provide clarity and predictability for businesses and the financial sector to stimulate necessary private investments. The plans will also facilitate Member States’ programming of funding from the next multi-annual financial framework 2021-2027.

Next steps

The EU’s Energy Union laws require Member States to take due account of the Commission’s recommendations or make public their reasons not to. Member States are also required to involve the public in the preparation of the final plans by the end of the year.

The deadline for submitting the final plans is set for 31 December 2019. Today’s recommendations and the Commission’s Communication are part of a back and forth process with Member States that will ensure that by then the final versions of the NECPs are sufficiently detailed, robust and ambitious.

The Commission stands ready to support Member States in their efforts to finalise their NECPs by the end of 2019, building on the excellent cooperative process to date.

 

Background

Member States are required, under the new Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union and climate action (part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package), which entered into force on 24 December 2018, to establish a 10-year national energy and climate plan for the period from 2021 to 2030.

Member States were required to submit their draft NECPs by the end of 2018, which would then be the subject of an in-depth assessment by the Commission. The Regulation states that if the draft NECPs do not sufficiently contribute to reaching the Energy Union’s objectives – individually and/or collectively – then the Commission may, by the end of June 2019, make recommendations for Member States to amend their draft plans.

The final NECPs for the period 2021-2030 must be submitted by Member States by the end of 2019.

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