Monday

15th Oct 2018

Estonia's last chance to land green energy results

  • Solar panels in Germany, where such 'solar farms' are a common sight (Photo: Andreas Gücklhorn)

EU energy ministers meet on Monday (18 December) to find a common position on no less than four different legislative files that are part of the 'Energy Union' package, proposed by the commission thirteen months ago.

They will discuss targets for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and two legal acts governing the electricity market at the final ministerial meeting in the Council of the EU in Brussels of the year.

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

Once the ministers have their common positions, they have to start negotiations with the European Parliament on the final version of the bills.

Briefing journalists last week, a senior Estonian official said on condition of anonymity they were "four very complex files", which each contain "two or three" politically-sensitive angles.

"To manage it all in a one day debate is really going to be a challenge," the Estonian said – Estonia as the outgoing holder of the six-month EU presidency, will chair the meeting. Bulgaria takes over the six-month rotating slot in January.

But he added it would also force ministers to focus on what is really important.

One key issue are the details around increasing the share of energy from renewable sources.

EU leaders agreed at a summit in October 2014 that by 2030, at least 27 percent of the EU's energy should be renewable, derived from for example solar panels or wind turbines.

The leaders decided that the target would be "binding on an EU level", but decided against national binding targets.

(Photo: European Union)

Some fear that this lack of national goals will lead to freeriders.

"What do we do to prevent a certain number of governments to pledge so low that others have to deliver more, or that in overall we are not able to deliver our binding renewable target?", said Green MEP Claude Turmes at a meeting with journalists recently.

Turmes, a Luxembourgian, is following one of the energy files for the parliament.

The interaction between the various proposed bills is complicated, with the renewable energy targets in one bill, but reporting and monitoring of the progress in another.

All of it is related to the 2015 climate agreement achieved in Paris, which aims at limiting potentially destructive climate change.

EU leaders said at their summit last week that they "strongly" reaffirmed the EU's commitment to 'Paris', and that they were committed to adopt the pending legislative proposals.

But according to environmentalist lobby group WWF, what is currently on the table is not enough to reach those Paris goals.

"To bring Europe in line with the Paris Agreement, the EU needs a 45% renewables target with binding national targets for 2030," WWF said on Friday.

Targets or milestones?

The EU's previous climate targets, for 2020, included nationally-binding renewable energy targets for each member state.

But national targets are politically not feasible, according to a second Estonian diplomat.

Referring to a proposed compromise text, he said that Estonia planned to introduce 'milestones'.

"If these milestones are not met by the EU we have provisions to go after the member states. These provisions are not that specific that it would bring back the binding national targets, because we can't do that," he admitted.

Missing the milestones could then lead to peer pressure, but it was unclear how binding these milestones were.

The diplomat said he didn't want to "go there", saying he was "not allowed to use these words, binding, non-binding".

Politically, the Estonians are likely to want to achieve a deal before the end of their six-month EU presidency.

They were unable to bridge the divides between the council and EU parliament in another climate file, discussed last week.

That legislative proposal dealt with greenhouse gas reduction targets for sectors like agriculture, buildings, and transport.

"Despite constructive preparations with the Estonian EU presidency and 10 hours of talks, we failed to reach an agreement," said Dutch Liberal MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy last week.

"The parliament's and council's positions remained too far removed from each other."

Monday's ministerial meeting will start at 9:30am and, in a signal that talks could be lengthy, the press conference is announced for merely "at the end of the meeting".

Feature

Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline

A joint declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor project, which should deliver Azerbaijani gas to Europe by 2020, will remain secret - because the Turkish energy minister left before signing.

News in Brief

  1. Le Pen warms towards cooperation with Bannon
  2. Bettel set to stay in power in Luxembourg after election
  3. EU-UK Brexit deal talks paused
  4. Macedonian parliament to vote on name change Monday
  5. Swedish opposition leader gives up on forming government
  6. Commission confirms: no record of Juncker speech seminar
  7. Ukraine splits from Russian orthodox church
  8. Polish doctor wins landmark pro-life case in Norway

Stakeholder

Nordic electricity market presented to global energy ministers

Energy ministers from the world's biggest economies, including the G20, were shown how co-operation works in the Nordic electricity market. This co-operation is unique by international standards and is held up as a model globally.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Daily reality in Western Sahara - and how EU can protect it
  2. Bavarian election puts Merkel on defensive
  3. It's time for the EU to stand up to transnational corporations
  4. Tug of war between 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' cohesion money
  5. 'Macron vs Orban' is no quick fix for EU democracy
  6. Brexit and sanctions at EU summit This WEEK
  7. EU looks at Morocco and Tunisia to offload migrants
  8. EU urged to seize assets of foreign hackers

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us