Tuesday

19th Mar 2019

EU envisages soft touch Energy Union

  • The paper does not say what the commission will do if national plans fall short of the EU-wide ambition. (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission is appearing to go for a soft touch approach in getting member states to achieve the energy and climate goals laid out in its Energy Union strategy.

According to an internal document, seen by this website, the commission is floating monitoring and reporting instruments, but no strict top-down measures to police the proposed new rules.

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The document is a discussion paper written for a meeting of high commission officials next Wednesday (15 July). It lists “the kind of instruments that could support a future governance system”.

When the commission announced its Energy Union plans in February, it said its strategy needs “an integrated governance and monitoring process, to make sure that energy-related actions at European, regional, national and local level all contribute to the Energy Union's objectives”.

Those objectives included increasing energy security, increasing efficient use of energy, completing the single energy market, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the paper, Energy Union governance “should start with building and sharing knowledge of energy policy and its development across all member states”.

This will be done via a “transparent monitoring system”, which includes as its two “core elements”:

- “single integrated national plans for the post-2020 period”

- “biennial reports on the implementation of national plans”

“National plans would be the key instruments for member states to set out their energy and climate policy approaches for the period up to 2030 in an integrated way”, the paper noted.

“The commission would aggregate these national plans and compare with the EU-level target".

However, the paper does not say what the commission will do if those plans fall short of the EU-wide ambition.

Those plans, the paper said, need to include “projections for the energy system and greenhouse gas emissions based on existing policies, notably a reference projection that does not include the effects of the planned policies described, and a policy projection with the planned measures”.

The commission stated that a new “Reference Scenario”, prepared by the commission, will be an “important input” for those projections.

“Without aiming to replace national projections developed by member states, it can be a useful reference point for member states in defining their own targets and objectives”, the document stated.

The commission does not have exclusive power over most energy issues, which means it needs the co-operation of national governments, and may explain the careful language.

Green lobby group Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe) has already criticised the discussion paper, which it said “ is completely lacking teeth”.

“Planning and reporting alone will not ensure that the EU meets and exceeds its 2030 energy and climate goals. With this proposal governments will not be held accountable for failing to invest in renewables and energy efficiency”, said CAN Europe campaigner Jean-Francois Fauconnier in an e-mailed statement.

The paper did not discuss the commission's contentious wish to be more closely involved when countries sign gas contracts, for which a proposal is due to be published after the summer break.

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