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Media Advisory: Future of EU Energy Policy

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Energy Council of 24 september 2019.

European Energy Ministers will debate national actions required to reach the 2030 energy targets and the future of the energy sector after 2030. This will be the first exchange since the release of the Commission’s recommendations on draft national plans in June 2019. The Council will set the tone for the upcoming European Green Deal, expected within the first 100 days of the incoming Commission.

Background

Coming off the back of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit, European Ministers in charge of energy will debate the following two topics:

  1. National Energy and Climate Plans. Each member state must produce a national plan outlining the policies and measures the government intends on adopting to reach the EU’s 2030 climate and energy target. All countries submitted a draft plan at the beginning of the year, and the Commission issued recommendations in June 2019. Current plans are inadequate to reach the EU’s 2030 ambition. Member States will have to send a revised plan by the end of the year, hence the importance of this discussion.
  2. The energy sector after 2030: towards climate neutrality. The Finnish Presidency is putting major emphasis on the EU long-term climate strategy. In this discussion, the Presidency is signaling that the energy sector has a major role to play in the decarbonisation process. While some progress has been made, there must be clear acceleration to reach climate neutrality by 2050. This agenda item aims at guaranteeing climate neutrality becomes a concrete goal and not an empty promise.

What to look out for

Exchange on NECPs:

In June, the European Commission rightly pointed out the alarming ambition gap in its recommendations, but disregarded the fact that national drafts are steering the Union on a course toward a glut of natural gas. Natural gas not only emits CO2 (in Europe 22% in 2015) but can also lead to methane leaks during exploration, production and transmission. Planning to build new gas infrastructure would not only go against EU climate commitments, but could potentially represent a waste of already limited EU public resources.

E3G looked at draft NECPs of countries making up around 40% of European gas consumption. There is no plan for the transition away from natural gas. In parallel to the discussion on the ambitions gap – as suggested by the Commission – it would be appropriate for Member States to discuss a strategy aimed at phasing-out unabated natural gas from the national energy systems before 2050.

Getting this right is extremely important, particularly in view of the upcoming “gas package” and the evaluation of the Trans-European Network for Energy (TEN-E) regulation, expected to be released among the first legislative proposals of the new Commission. Europe must develop a new approach to gas that is both pro-consumer and pro-climate.

Energy system toward climate neutrality:

The discussion on the pathway to climate neutrality will contribute to building a positive narrative around the EU’s long-term climate goals. The delivery of this ambitious target requires an energy system transformation, based on decarbonisation and decentralisation. E3G has identified three priority areas:

  • Focus on energy system rules that actively improve citizens’ lives, ensuring energy companies and policies adopt a consumers’ perspective, and improve system reliability and integrity;
  • Identify new market and governance structures that will allow Member States to embrace resource sharing with neighbours alongside the decentralisation of the energy system and active management of the power distribution network;
  • Create the institutional structures that can support Member States to overcome the challenges involved in decarbonisation.

Resources

Contacts

Elisa Giannelli, Researcher at E3G: elisa.giannelli@e3g.org – 0032 (0) 494 584 829

Lisa Fischer, Senior Policy Advisor at E3G: lisa.fischer@e3g.org – 0044 (0) 20 7593 2020

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