Several EU business organisations (BusinessEurope, Eurochambres), and the European chemicals industry (CEFIC), criticised the Commission's unilateral CO2 reduction targets for 2020. "Further strong CO2 reduction targets that have not been adopted by other major emitting nations will weaken the European industry's competitiveness within the global business environment without achieving effective environmental benefits," said a CEFIC press statement.
CEFIC said an auctioning-based emissions trading regime is unsustainable, but welcomed the allocation of free allowances according to performance benchmarks, which it said would provide investment security.
Employers' organisation BusinessEurope also warned of serious price hikes as a result of the Commission's proposals, and said the compromise agreement was an improvement in comparison. "But I am still concerned about the cost effect on European companies which have already done a great deal to reduce emissions and to increase energy efficiency," said the organisation's director-general, Philippe de Buck.
The Commission's intention to continue its energy-market liberalisation, on the other hand, was welcomed by most industry groups such as the Union of the Electricity Industry (Eurelectric) as well as SME lobby UEAPME and the European Federation of Energy Traders (EFET). However the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) called the package a "PR exercise to justify higher energy bills and disguise failure of liberalisation", saying forced ownership unbundling would not bring benefits for citizens. ETUC, the European Trade Union Confederation, also considered the "pursuit of electricity and gas market liberalisation to be 'reckless'.
Foratom, the nuclear industry lobby, expressed its satisfaction with the Commission's evaluation that "nuclear energy is one of the largest sources of carbon-dioxide free energy in Europe". It did not comment on the fact that the Commission leaves the decision on the future of nuclear in the hands of member states.
Lobby groups for the renewable energy industry gave their support to the new legislation.
EREC, the European Renewable Energy Council, hailed the directive as "the most important piece of legislation on renewable energy in the world," providing investor confidence for the sector.
ESTIF, the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation, reacted in similar fashion. "With this directive, the European Union demonstrates its leadership in renewable energies," said ESTIF Secretary-General Uwe Trenkner.
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) hailed the agreement as confirmation that Europe is "the leader of the energy revolution the world needs".
CEPI, the European paper industry association, said it supported the Commission's integrated view on climate change, energy and industrial competitiveness, describing it as "a big step in the right direction". However, it added that "by focusing solely on setting targets, the current debate on renewables is heading in the wrong direction".
COGEN Europe regretted that the Commission does not give enough weight to co-generation, "the most immediate single source of both energy saving and CO2 reduction available in Europe today".
The European electricity industry association Eurelectric was much more critical of the Commission's renewables targets. "The EU should avoid command-and-control measures such as binding energy targets or requirements to use only certain technologies," and questioned the "wisdom and the realism of the proposed dramatic compulsory increase in the share of RES (renewables) in the energy mix by 2020". Nevertheless, it said finalisation of the energy and climate package would bring greater clarity for European electricity investors, despite failing to ensure a "fully level playing field".
Environmental NGOs described the Commission's climate change goals as too weak, criticising the compromised agreement for further diluting the original ambitions.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) said the package "lacks teeth". EEB chief John Hontelez labelled the EU greenhouse-gas reduction target "unacceptably weak" and the energy policy proposals "unconvincing and potentially even damaging, particularly regarding biofuels and nuclear power".
WWF made similar comments, describing the EU energy revolution as "still a distant dream". It said the final agreement was "poisoned by the large amount of carbon credits allowed from non-European countries," focusing actions away from Europe and giving a bad example to the rest of the world.
Friends of the Earth Europe called the package "good news for the dirty energy industry, bad news for people and the planet". It said the agreed package reflected "almost no genuine effort by European countries to achieve ambitious targets for reducing harmful emissions by 2020".
Greenpeace warned that the climate package cannot be taken as a basis for the EU's negotiating position in Copenhagen in 2009, because it does not even guarantee the achievement of the EU's emissions reduction target of 20%, let alone 30%, which it said is generally recognised as the bare minimum to combat global warming.
"The Parliament has marginalised itself by lacking the courage to make even small changes to the compromises negotiated by the EU summit last Friday. Europe promised leadership on climate, but so far it has led us up the garden path," said Joris den Blanken, Greenpeace EU's climate and energy policy director.