Parliament rubber-stamps Europe’s 2030 clean energy laws

The European Parliament in Strasbourg. [Shutterstock]

The European Parliament voted on Tuesday (13 November) a set of three clean energy laws for 2030, including binding targets for renewable energies, an indicative objective on energy savings and a separate text on the governance of the Energy Union.

By 2030, energy efficiency in the EU has to have improved by 32.5%, whereas the share of energy from renewables should be at least 32% of the EU’s gross final consumption.

Both targets are to be reviewed by 2023 and can only be raised, not lowered.

With the approval of the three legislative files, MEPs confirmed the provisional agreement reached in June on energy efficiency (434 votes to 104 with 37 abstentions), renewables (495 votes to 68 with 61 abstentions) and governance of the Energy Union (475 votes to 100 with 33 abstentions).

This means the European Union has taken an additional step in finalising its Clean Energy Package, also known as Winter Package, tabled in November 2016.

As it happened: Clean energy law hurdles cleared

EU negotiators meet once again this week for what promises to be final talks on two crucial energy files on energy governance and energy efficiency. Follow our liveblog for the latest developments, as well as to catch up on what has happened so far.

As it is, Tuesday’s vote comes after the reform of the carbon market, the agreement on the Effort Sharing Regulation, the inclusion of forests and land in the EU’s carbon footprint (LULUCF) and the adoption of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).

“Historic”

In a press conference, the four lawmakers who steered the texts through Parliament expressed their satisfaction after two years of sometimes harsh negotiations with member states.

Michèle Rivasi, a Green MEP from France and co-rapporteur on the governance regulation, called the new piece of legislation “historic”.

“It is the most beautiful one adopted in this legislature,” she said.

She explained that each member state must present a ten-year integrated national energy and climate plan with national targets, contributions, policies and measures by 31 December 2019, and every ten years thereafter.

It is very rare to have something so inclusive, synthetic and coherent and it shows what Europe is meant to be a few months from before the European elections,” she added.

“For the first time, member states will also be obliged to establish specific energy efficiency measures to the benefit of those affected by energy poverty,” stressed Spanish MEP José Blanco Lopez, rapporteur on the renewable energy directive for the Socalist and Democrats (S&D) group.

The Spanish MEP underlined that the new legislation showed that sustainability can be good for the economy and create new, high-quality jobs.

However, a deal is still in the making on the reform of Europe’s electricity market, with several MEPs expressing their discontent in Strasbourg over what they perceived as a lack of flexibility from EU member states on so-called “capacity mechanisms”, which remunerate back-up power plants in the event of demand peak.

The most disputed point remains the setting of CO2 emission standards, the MEPs said, adding they had long discussions that have not lead to a concrete decision yet.

Capacity mechanisms reform – key issues to watch

The European Commission wants to limit state aid for power plants that EU countries remunerate to remain on stand-by in case of demand peak. As negotiations on the EU’s new electricity market enter the home straight, EURACTIV lists the main issues to watch out for in the debate.

Another stumbling block are regulated electricity tariffs for electricity issue where no decision could be reached either, with several member states, among them France and Hungary, protecting the principle of the state intervention on the electricity market.

A final “trilogue” session of talks between the European Commission, Parliament and Council will be held on 5 December in a bid to clear the reform of Europe’s electricity market.

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