EU’s clean energy package gets national support

A power plant in Hamburg, Germany. [Daniel Lerps/Flickr]

EU energy ministers on Monday (27 February) backed the third version of the 28-country bloc’s clean energy package, praising its focus on renewables, energy efficiency and consumers.

Almost every minister warned about the challenge the ‘Clean Energy for all Europeans package’  will face when being transposed at the national level.

They agreed that clean energy is critical for delivering the Energy Union, the European Commission’s flagship project aimed at transforming Europe’s energy supply to make it cleaner and more sustainable.

The end goal of the strategy is to transform the EU into a low carbon economy by 2030, when as little resources as possible are wasted.

Commission announces investment boost for circular economy

The EU executive announced today (26 January) the first steps towards legislation on the burning of waste for energy, and that it would work with the European Investment Bank to spur financial backing for projects supporting the shift to a circular economy.

Malta, currently holding the rotating presidency of the EU, is focused on initiatives that make a difference to people’s lives, Konrad Mizzi, the Maltese Minister, said.

“We are speeding-up our work on the Gas Security of Supply legislation, which will ensure gas availability for all member states, as well as energy efficiency labelling legislation, which will enable consumers to make informed choices when buying product,” Mizzi said.

The differences in capabilities at the regional and national levels may hinder the implementation of the package, some ministers said, though they were unanimously in support of the package.

“I am confident we can find solutions that benefit all of us,” Lenka Kovačovská, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade for the Czech Republic, said. 

Kováčovské added that she thinks the time-frame of the package is too ambitious.

Europe’s coal generation: The final curtain call?

European Commission plans for the Energy Union, tabled on 30 November, have set the clock ticking for the EU’s coal industry, whose days are now numbered. But proponents of coal say the industry is not down yet and highlight the need for a fair transition to clean energy.

Daniel Navid Simon, Secretary of State for Energy for Spain, said it was an ambitious package in regards to its long term goals, but said short term goals was needed so citizens can feel change in their everyday life.

Creating understandable, proper statistics about investments needed, as well as proper financing from private sector were suggested as projects to spur short term goals.

Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action & Energy, suggested a market-based approach to renewables, meaning that the needs of the consumers should be properly taken into account. 

Christine Marie-Christine Marghem, Belgian minister for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, echoed the importance for consumers to have a market that functions properly with affordable prices.

The Council of the European Union said it will work with the Commission to arrange three-way institutional talks designed at brokering an agreement on the draft EU legislation.