Sunday

18th Nov 2018

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days 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+++.

Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Italy would be committing economic "suicide" if it fell in line with EU rules, its deputy leader has said, in a sign that Rome has little intention of bowing to pressure ahead of Tuesday's budget deadline.

Greek austerity violated right to health, says watchdog

Cuts in the Greek health care system, following the austerity cuts demanded in return for international bailouts, have violated the European Social Charter on the right to health, says Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, Dunja Mijatovic.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Stakeholder

An open China brings opportunities to Europe

Some 60 years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding imports, will open in Shanghai, China.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us