Monday

24th Feb 2020

Russia angst sees EU energy efficiency targets watered down

  • EU leaders will have to decide if the 30 percent target will be binding (Photo: eastpole)

The EU commission on Wednesday (23 July) tabled a plan to increase the bloc's overall energy efficiency, but had to water it down amid fears of Russian gas supplies being cut in the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

Under the plan, the commission leaves it up to EU leaders to decide if it should be binding or not to increase energy efficiency by 30 percent by 2030, compared to 2007 levels. In previous drafts, the commission had toyed with the idea of a binding target of up to 40 percent.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday after a lengthy meeting of all 28 EU commissioners, energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger said the planned target is "ambitious" and that it has a "good chance" of being approved by member states. A first discussion on it will take place at the 23-24 October summit.

Oettinger denied that the target was watered down.

But in one of the latest drafts, it was as low as 27 percent. Incoming EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker's push to have a binding target of at least 30 percent helped a handful of commissioners who were pressing for a more ambitious target to get the 30 percent agreed.

Oettinger spoke of three groups of countries with differing positions on the file.

One group he referred to - without naming the countries - supported three binding targets: for energy efficiency, green house gas emissions, and renewable energy.

This group is said to comprise France, Germany and the Nordic states, whose commissioners also represented their government's line on this.

The second group mentioned by Oettinger contains those who "want less Europe, less Brussels, and where the EU elections have strengthened this position" - a reference to Great Britain.

The third group wanted just greenhouse emission targets, saying this is enough and that energy efficiency would contribute to the same goal.

This includes, according to an EU source, countries most dependent on Russian gas imports - notably Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Baltic states. They "paradoxically" opposed the energy efficiency target even as they try to cut down their own dependence.

The reasoning behind their stance is that if Russia cuts gas supplies and the EU imposes binding energy efficiency targets, countries will have to foot the bill for not meeting those targets, on top of investments needed to make buildings, cars and appliances less energy-consuming.

Oettinger admitted that investments "in the higher range of two-figure billions" of euro were needed to meet this target. He said there will be "resistance" from industries that will have to implement labelling and eco-design.

As for the EU countries dependent on EU gas and electricity, Oettinger said that a "co-ordination group" is meeting regularly to try to get gas storages filled to maximum capacity.

"We want de-escalation, we want an agreement in the gas price dispute [between Russia and Ukraine]," he said.

Planned sanctions against Russia, currently being worked out by the EU commission "should not include oil, gas, coal and uranium imports," he said.

But he added that drilling technology and other high-tech devices needed for the Russian offshore fields exploration might be put under an embargo "to show them that if they are not contributing to peace in Ukraine, we have no reason to facilitate their energy sector development".

EU foreign ministers on Tuesday agreed to expand the sanctions regime to energy technologies, dual-use items, defence exports and financial transactions if Russia does not co-operate with MH17 investigators and keeps arming the Ukrainian rebels that shot down a civilian plane in which over 200 EU citizens died.

On Wednesday, two more planes were shot down, this time Ukrainian fighter jets. According to AFP, the missiles were fired from Russian territory.

Letter

Energy efficiency report based on outdated studies

The studies cited in the European Court of Auditors (ECA) energy efficiency report were performed on projects that were developed more than a decade ago, long before the existence of coherent EU energy efficiency policy.

EU fixes own mistake on 'confusing' energy labels

UPDATED: MEPs approved a new system to inform consumers about the energy efficiency of products. The most important change is abolishing the most recent change to a scale that goes up to A+++.

No breakthrough at EU budget summit

EU leaders failed to reach agreement on the EU's long-term budget, as richer states and poorer 'cohesion countries' locked horns. The impasse continues over how to fund the Brexit gap.

EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock

Cuts to innovation, space, neighbourhood and other programme-spending push down the latest budget proposal on the table of EU leaders. Rebates could stay on, to win the support of the net-payers for a deal.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel's party suffers worst ever result in Hamburg
  2. 'No need to panic' on coronavirus in Italy, EU says
  3. Erdogan says he will meet Macron, Merkel on Syria
  4. Bulgarian PM investigated over 'money laundering'
  5. Greenpeace breaks into French nuclear plant
  6. Germany increases police presence after shootings
  7. NGO: US and EU 'watering-down' tax reform prior to G20
  8. Iran: parliamentary elections, conservatives likely to win

Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote

A trade deal with Vietnam sailed through the European Parliament's international trade committee and after its embassy sent MEPs bottles of Moet & Chandon Imperial champagne over Christmas.

Feature

Promises and doubts: Africa's free-trade adventure

The EU is hoping that a continent-wide free trade agreement in Africa will help lift millions out of poverty and help solve issues of security and migration. But its message of values and equal partnership do not resonate with everyone.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. EU speaks out against Israeli settler spike
  2. Polish rule of law crisis at point of no return
  3. Africa visit and EU parliament missions This WEEK
  4. No breakthrough at EU budget summit
  5. EU leaders struggling to break budget deadlock
  6. German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job
  7. How big is Germany's far-right problem?
  8. Plastic and carbon proposals to help plug Brexit budget gap

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us