Volume XVI, 4-2017
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EESC CORNER: Spring Energy Package

At the end of 2016, the European Commission published its „Winter Energy Package”. The EESC is one of the EU institutions that has been entrusted with the discussion and negotiation of these documents. That is why the EESC, in response to the Commission ́s Winter energy package has prepared a set of eight opinions and presented it as an EESC Spring energy package. The first five opinions were discussed and agreed by the EESC Plenary meeting on 26 and 27 April 2017.

In the opinion TEN/624 – “Clean Energy for all Package” EESC welcomes the “clean energy” package, which aims to accelerate, transform and consolidate the EU economy’s clean energy transition, while retaining the important goals of economic growth and job creation. However, the EESC would also like to emphasise that serious risks and dangers exist, especially if the transition process is too fast or too slow and lacks integrated planning. Both opportunities and risks have to be considered adequately.

In the opinion TEN/620 – “Revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive” EESC stressed its priority for the need for the Directive to contain more specific proposals to tackle the challenge of energy poverty. This should include clearer advice on the required content of national definitions of energy poverty, the provision of a reference definition against which to assess the comprehensiveness of national plan approaches and the delivery of advice and coordination of measures through the agency of an independent, consumer-focussed “one-stop-shop” or agency.

EESC notes in its opinion TEN/618 – “Revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive, that the Commission’s proposal to establish a 30% binding energy efficiency target for 2030 (an increase from 27%), would need to be justified by demonstrating both the economic benefits and the level of investment needed to reach these targets. It is imperative that the impact assessment take account of all the measures addressed by the energy and climate packages.

In the opinion TEN/622 – “Revision of the Renewable Energy Directive” EESC supports the objective that renewables need to embrace the market. Permanent subsidies – be they for fossil, nuclear or renewable energy sources – are not an option, for a number of reasons. The involvement of local stakeholders in decentralised energy projects is also important in increasing public support.

In the opinion TEN/617 – “Energy Union Governance” EESC supports the proposed Governance Regulation. It elaborates on a framework enabling Member States to make the lowest-cost choices for their own national energy and climate plans and mitigates the risks of stranded infrastructure assets. However, this is unlikely to happen unless changes are made to the Regulation. Associated supporting measures must be provided which will enable the building of social consensus at the national, regional and local level concerning how best to address the socio-economic and technical implications of achieving a just energy transition.

Maros Sevcovic, the European Commission Vice-President, attended the plenary session as the guest on the 27th April. In his speech, he appreciated the EC-EESC cooperation and highlighted the role of civil society in the introduction of a new electricity market model. In response to the contribution of Mr. Novotny, the representative of the Confederation of Industry and Transport of Czechia concerning open energy package issues, said that the Commission continues to fully respect the right of EU Member States to decide about its energy mix and explained that the proposed Regional Operational Centres of Transmission Systems will not interfere with national competencies.

The further three opinions TEN/626 State of the Energy Union, TEN/625 Electricity market design and TEN/619 Accelerating clean energy innovation were submitted by TEN Section to the EESC Plenary meeting held on May 31st – June 1st 2017.

Vladimír Novotný
EESC Member, Group I

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Other articles in this issue:

How Will Trump’s Policies Influence the EU?
Low Attention to Business in the Digital Single Market
Mobility Package: When Will the National Rules Disappear?
MEPs CORNER