EU Energy Governance Bill Aims for Net-Zero Carbon Economy

Last week negotiators hammered out the final details of the EU’s energy governance bill, which will help the bloc meet its 2030 climate and energy targets and aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions “as early as possible”.

On June 19, negotiators from the European Commission, Parliament and Council met in the final ‘trialogue’ on the EU’s energy governance bill, sealing a deal on the next decade of energy governance in the EU, and following a similar trialogue at the end of May, in which negotiators made progress on important aspects like the internal market and energy security.

The Energy Union governance regulation is part of the ‘Clean Energy for all Europeans’ package, which was issued by the European Commission in 2016. Its goal is to help meet the EU’s 2030 climate and energy targets and achieve net-zero carbon emissions “as early as possible”, (the Parliament wanted to set a 2050 deadline for net-zero emissions, but in the face of reluctant member states, the final wording in the EU energy governance regulation reads “as early as possible.”)

The governance regulation will create the overarching governance system for the Energy Union and lead to long-term strategies for decarbonisation. The main components of the regulation are as follows:

  • member states will have to adopt national integrated energy and climate plans by January 2019;
  • the Commission will issue recommendations on what should go into these member state plans;
  • member states will create biennial progress reports that the Commission will assess;
  • member states will prepare long-term low emission strategies;
  • member states will prepare biennial reports on climate change adaption planning and strategies and annual reports on greenhouse gas inventories;
  • and national and EU inventory systems for greenhouse gas emissions will be created.

Despite the fact that many were satisfied with the compromised wording around achieving net-zero carbon emissions “as early as possible,” others voiced their disappointment in the group’s inability to agree on a specific future goal. “It is irresponsible that member states try to shy away from their own homework” on meeting the Paris goals, said Roland Joebstl, a member of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), an NGO. “Any delay in implementing the Paris Agreement creates further liabilities for future generations,” he added. Copyright: Avivi Aharon/

“For the first time we will have an Energy Union Governance, fixed in the European Union rule book, encompassing all sectors of the energy policy and integrating climate policy in line with the Paris Agreement,” said Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU Commissioner for climate action, in a statement.

To ensure all member states fall in line with this new bill, the regulation creates a ‘gap-filler’ mechanism. In the meeting this week, negotiators decided to set three separate targets for renewables and energy efficiency to address potential gaps. For renewable energy, member states must meet 18 percent of the EU-wide renewables objective by 2022, 43 percent by 2025, and 65 percent by 2027, before reaching 100 percent of the objective by 2030 (when 32 percent of all EU energy should come from renewables).

“As soon as a country is not on track, the European Commission can intervene,” explained Claude Turmes, the lead European Parliament negotiator on the energy governance bill.

A similar gap-filler mechanism with the same three target dates has been established for energy efficiency goals; on June 19, EU lawmakers agreed to an EU-wide target of 32.5 percent energy efficiency savings by 2030.

Additionally, when making decisions on new infrastructure, member states must create national plans that prioritise energy efficiency. “We have a definition of efficiency first. And in national plans, governments have to show how they prioritise energy efficiency in infrastructure investments and networks,” said Turmes, who is a Green MEP from Luxembourg.

Meanwhile, some EU member states – like France and Spain – are already making significant progress on meeting the 2030 goals. This year, the two southern EU countries agreed to build a subsea power cable across the Bay of Biscay to carry excess Spanish renewable energy to France. The EU is providing 578 million euros to finance the project, as part of an investment fund of 873 million euros that EU nations agreed to invest in 17 energy infrastructure projects aimed at the goal of a single energy union.

The EU is also granting 101 million euros to Cyprus for the introduction of natural gas and 3.7 million euros to study a potential gas link between Malta and Italy.

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Kaitlin Lavinder

Kaitlin is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. She holds an MA in International Economics and European Studies from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and previously worked as a national security reporter and Europe analyst. She has conducted on the ground research in Germany, Poland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.

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