By / October 30, 2013

What’s happening on energy in the EU?

The aims of the EU energy policy are set in article 194 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the…

© memorialphoto / Fotolia

The aims of the EU energy policy are set in article 194 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. They include reducing energy consumption, implementing the internal energy market, developing new and renewable forms of energy, promoting the interconnection of energy networks, improving technology, protecting consumers and reinforcing the external dimension. The energy 2020 communication (2010), which is part of the EU’s 2020 strategy and the ‘Resource Efficient Europe‘ flagship, sets out a strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy. It defines the energy priorities for the next ten years, as well as actions to achieve these goals.

2020 and 2030 frameworks

© memorialphoto / Fotolia
© memorialphoto / Fotolia

The climate and energy 20-20-20 targets from the climate and energy package (2009) set three key objectives for 2020:

  • a 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels
  • raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20%;
  • a 20% improvement in the EU’s energy efficiency.

These targets were set by EU leaders in March 2007, when they committed Europe to become a highly energy-efficient, low carbon economy. The EU also offered to increase its emissions reduction to 30% by 2020 if other major economies in the developed and developing worlds commit to undertake a share of a global emissions reduction effort. The EU is on track to meet its 2020 renewable energy and greenhouse gas targets, but not the non-binding energy efficiency target.

No targets have been set yet for the 2030 framework. Even though it is expected that the overall share of renewable energy will exceed the 20% target, some stakeholders voiced concerns that the growth would halt without a suitable framework beyond 2020. The recent Green Paper “A 2030 framework for climate and energy policies” (March 2013) further discusses many important aspects in a 2030 perspective, amongst them potential climate and energy targets and how they should interact. The framework is seen as necessary for providing regulatory certainty for investors, and takes into account the longer-term perspective to 2050 set out in the Roadmaps for a low carbon economy and energy (dossier in OEIL), as well as the transport white paper.

Other issues at stake include the future role of ‘carbon capture and storage’ (CCS) in Europe. A consultative communication on CCS and a report assessing Member States’ progress towards their 2020 renewable energy targets were published alongside the Green paper. Member States, MEPs, and other stakeholders, have conflicting views on whether to introduce binding targets and how many are needed. Some believe there is no need to continue the current practice of defining separate targets for greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and that an overarching climate target would suffice. A public consultation closed the 2.7.2013, allowing the Commission to make legislative proposals by the end of the year.

Further reading:

A new wave of European climate and energy policy: towards a 2030 framework / Hanrahan, Gina. Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), 2013
This policy brief attempts to provide an understanding of the current debates on what kind of climate and energy regime EU wants and needs in the post-2020 period and to illuminate the key challenges in designing a new wave of European climate policy.

EU policy options for climate and energy beyond 2020 / Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency ; Edofys, 2013
This study analyses possible options for an EU policy framework for 2030 that will steer towards a low-carbon economy by 2050 in a cost-effective way.

Hat-trick 2030: an integrated climate and energy framework / Josche Muth, Josche. European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), 2013
This EREC paper sets out a number of reasons why an integrated renewables – greenhouse gas – energy efficiency 2030 policy approach with binding renewable energy target yields more benefits for European citizens and industries than a one-legged policy based on a supposedly “technology-neutral” GHG-only approach.

Climate and energy policy to 2030 / Heitmann, Nadine. Centrum für Europäische Politik (CEP) , 2013
This CEP policy brief provides an overview of the proposal for a new climate and energy framework to 2030.

Renewable energy

The Renewable Energy Directive, adopted in 2009, is a part of the 2009 climate and energy package and sets binding targets to achieve a 20% share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption by 2020. To reach the 20% renewable energy target, each EU Member State has to implement a national renewable action plan (NREAP) and also seek to increase financing of renewables. Following on from the wider long-term policy visions in the Energy Roadmap 2050, the Commission published its communication on renewable energy beyond 2020 on the 6 June 2012 (dossier in OEIL). An EP resolution was adopted on the 21 May 2013, suggesting that targets and milestones should be set up for the post-2020 period and aim for a higher share of the EU energy mix than the 30% suggested by the Commission. A small majority adopted an amendment calling on the Commission to propose a binding target for 2030.

Further reading:

The need and necessity of an EU wide renewable energy target for 2030 / de Vos, Rolf ; Ecofys ; European Copper Institute ; Leonardo Energy, 2013
This Ecofys report analyses two realistic policy portfolio options for renewable energy and target-setting; one ‘decarbonisation-only’ EU target with voluntary national targets for renewable energy, and one that includes an EU-wide renewable energy target, broken down into binding national targets.

Renewable energy: a 2030 scenario for the EU / Heller, Renee ; Ecofys ; WWF, 2013
This report develops 2030 renewable energy and energy savings targets for the EU which are in line with the methodology and goal (almost 100% RES in 2050) of a previous WWF study, the Energy Report (TER).

Global trends in renewable energy investment 2013 / United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) ; Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2013
This report is based on data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and has become the standard reference for global clean energy investment figures.

Review of technical assessment of national renewable energy action plans / Banja, Manjola. Joint Research Centre (JRC), 2013
This report contains data from the final Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs), submitted in early 2012.

EP Library key source;
EU Renewable Energy Strategy

Energy efficiency

Improving energy efficiency to reduce energy consumption by 20% is also defined in the 2009 climate and energy package. It was the only target not legally-binding on the Member States, and the only target not on track for delivery. A new ‘Energy efficiency directive‘ entered into force on 4 December 2012. Member states did in the end agree on an indicative target of 20% energy savings and binding measures rather than binding targets. In 2014, the Commission will review the progress towards the 20% target and assess whether further measures are needed.

The main components of the directive are a 3% renovation rate for public buildings which are “central government-owned and occupied” and that energy companies are requested to reduce their energy sales to industrial and household clients by at least 1.5% each year. Additionally, each MemberState has to draw up a roadmap on how to make their buildings sector more energy efficient by 2050 (commercial, public and private households included). Energy efficiency measures were identified as very important to improve security of energy supply and boost competiveness at the energy summit in May 2013.

Further reading:

Good practice ways out of energy debt: implementation of energy efficiency policies in EU Member States / Energy Efficiency Watch ; EUFORES ; Wuppertal Institute ; Ecofys, 2013
The project Energy-Efficiency-Watch (EEW) aims to facilitate the implementation of the EU Energy Services Directive and the Energy Efficiency Directive. This study presents the results of the two main activities of the project; the screening of National Energy Efficiency Action Plans (NEEAPs) and the results of a quantitative survey during the year 2011.

Improving and implementing national energy efficiency strategies in the EU framework: findings from Energy Efficiency Watch II analyses / Energy Efficiency Watch ; Wuppertal Institute ; Ecofys ; Intelligent Energy Europe, 2013
This final report from the Energy-Efficiency-Watch 2 project examines the implementation of energy efficiency policies across all EU Member States.

Energy efficiency policies in the EU: lessons from the Odyssee-Mure Project / Eichhammer, Wolfgang ; Fraunhofer ISI ; ODYSSEE-MURE project, 2013
This publication,prepared within the ODYSSEE-MURE project, presents and analyses energy efficiency policies implemented in the buildings, transport and industry sector in the European Union, its Member States and Croatia and Norway.

Energy efficiency and the ETS study / European Parliament Policy Department A, 2013

Shale gas

The 2050 Energy Roadmap recognises shale gas as an energy source that could potentially lessen the EU’s import dependence and play an important part in the EU’s energy mix in the future. In September 2012 the European Commission published three new studies on unconventional fossil fuels, in particular shale gas. The studies look at the potential effects and benefits of these fuels on energy markets, the potential climate impact of shale gas production, and the potential risks shale gas developments and associated hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) may present to human health and the environment. An EP Policy Department study called for a directive and recommended banning, or at least restricting, the injection of toxic chemicals during fracking in 2011. The European Parliament debated the shale gas issue in November 2012 (see EP dossiers: (ITRE) | (ENVI)). The EP rejected a ban on shale gas, while calling for a robust regulatory regime to address environmental concerns. The Commission was given a mandate to investigate if there is a need for regulation at EU level. An initiative is awaited during 2014 (see “Environmental, climate and energy assessment framework to enable safe and secure unconventional hydrocarbon extraction”). Recent discussions relating to shale gas include the revision of ‘environmental impact assessment’ (EIA) directive and the Green paper on 2030 climate and energy policies.

Further reading:

The shale gas ‘revolution’ in the United States: global implications, options for the EU / European Parliament. Policy Department External Policies, 2013
Briefing note studying the US shale gas boom and the effects on the EU energy market.

Shale gas: a comparison of European moratoria / Ruven Fleming. In: European energy and environmental law review, n.1 (2013), p. 12-32
This article aims to analyse existing moratoria on shale gas extraction.

The impact of shale gas on energy markets / House of Commons. Energy and Climate Change Committee, 2013
This House of Commons report considers the implications of the “shale gas revolution” for energy markets around the world. It reviews the prospects of shale gas and the potential impact on energy markets and climate change mitigation globally, in Europe and in the UK. In addition, it considers other potential impacts on the UK and key issues that need to take into consideration when developing the UK shale gas industry.

Can shale gas transform Europe’s energy landscape? / Buchan, David. Centre for European Reform (CER), 2013
This policy brief argues that shale gas could slow the increase in Europe’s dependence on imported gas. But it will not be the game changer it has been in the US.

EP Library key sources;
Environmental and health impacts of shale gas extraction
– Industrial and energy aspects of shale gas extraction

EU internal energy market

The aim of completing the single energy market is to encourage free flow of power and gas across borders to stimulate fair competition, as well as accelerate the progress towards decarbonisation and increase energy independency. In order to liberalise the EU internal energy market, three legislative packages were adopted from 1996 to 2009. The ‘third energy package‘ (directives 2009/72 (electricity) and 2009/73 (gas) came into force in March 2011. The monitoring of transposition and implementation in the Member States shows that there are serious delays in this process. There are additional concerns that investments in energy infrastructure, in particular interconnectors, are insufficient. EU leaders did, in February 2011 and March 2013, emphasise the importance of completing the internal energy market by 2014. The Commission published a review of the progress to date in November 2012. The Communication ‘Making the internal energy market work’ (dossier in the EP Legislative observatory) assesses the harmonisation of market rules and network operations rules for electricity and gas. It warns that the EU could miss its 2014 deadline for the completion of the internal energy market. Opening up and liberalising energy markets should reduce the energy costs, as well as increasing energy efficiency, investments and innovations.

Further reading:

Electricity without borders: a plan to make the internal market work / Zachmann, Georg. Bruegel, 2013
The completion of the European energy market will help to deliver on all three of the European Union’s energy policy targets – security, sustainability and competitiveness. Cross-border electricity exchanges that have gradually developed over the last century, nevertheless a vision for a truly European energy market is lacking. This report provides a bolder blueprint in order to overcome barriers to cross-border trade in electricity.

EU’s internal energy market: tough decisions and a daunting agenda / Glachant, Jean-Michel ; Buchan, David ; Buzek, Jerzy ; Friends of Europe, 2013
Discussion paper with contributions from leading European experts in the field of energy policy. It concerns mainly the EU internal energy market.

Internal energy market: CEP policy brief / Reichert, Götz ; Centrum für Europäische Politik (CEP) , 2013
Analysis of the European Commission’s measures to to advance the completion of the internal energy market (COM(2012)663).

The EU internal electricity market: done forever? / Glachant, Jean-Michel ; Ruester, Sophia ; European University Institute (EUI) , 2013
This paper argues that existing regulation relating to the EU internal energy market needs an adapted regulatory approach to market design and network arrangements. The initial power sector reform was not, as an example, conceived for systems with a massive penetration of renewables. Another growing concern is the risk of a deep fragmentation due to uncoordinated national policy initiatives in the areas of renewable support and capacity mechanisms.

The cost of non-Europe in the single market for energy / European Parliament. European Added Value (EAVA), 2013

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