Progress towards 2020 targets: the European Semester
The "20-20-20" targets of the climate and energy package are also headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. This reflects the recognition that tackling the climate and energy challenge contributes to the creation of jobs, the generation of "green" growth and a strengthening of Europe's competitiveness.
The progress of each Member State towards meeting the targets is assessed every spring as part of the annual Europe 2020 policy coordination exercise, known as the European Semester. The assessment is based on Member States' so-called National Reform Programmes, plus the projections of future greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions they contribute to the annual progress report under the EU GHG monitoring mechanism.
On the basis of its analysis the European Commission can propose specific recommendations to Member States for adoption by the Council. These recommendations can help to strengthen the mainstreaming of climate action into broader economic policies.
Member States are assessed on progress towards meeting their national emission target for 2020 under the Effort Sharing Decision and their national renewable energy target for 2020 under the Renewable Energy Directive.
European Semester 2014
With the adoption of the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) 2014 a new European Semester has been launched. The AGS takes stock of the economic and social situation in the EU and sets out broad policy priorities for the following year.
European Semester 2013
While projections suggest that the 2020 GHG emissions target – a 20% reduction compared to 1990 levels – will be reached by the EU as a whole, currently only 14 Member States are expected to reach their national target with existing measures.
The other 13 Member States will not reach their target without extra efforts. Luxembourg, Malta, Ireland, Lithuania, Belgium, Greece, Spain and Austria are furthest from meeting their 2020 targets (with a gap of 5 or more percentage points). Furthermore, the emissions of Estonia, Poland and Luxembourg were higher in 2011 than their 2013 targets under the Effort Sharing Decision allow.
Overall the EU aims to raise the share of renewable energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20% in 2020. All Member States are expected to meet their national targets for 2020 on the basis of the commitments given in their National Renewable Energy Action Plans under the Renewable Energy Directive.
However, anticipating the impact of current policy initiatives, the economic crisis and various barriers to renewable energy development, the outlook for 2020 is less optimistic. Hence, many Member States will need further measures to ensure the achievement of their targets.
Action in six areas would help progress
The Commission's assessment of the climate and energy targets also found that policy action in six key areas would assist progress:
- Planning effective, growth-friendly use of the revenues from auctioning of EU ETS allowances;
- Realising the full potential for increasing energy efficiency, particularly in the buildings sector;
- Providing a stable, coherent and cost-efficient framework for investment in green technologies, renewable energy sources and energy infrastructure
- Exploiting emissions reduction potential in the transport sector;
- Fully exploiting scope for shifting the tax burden away from labour to tax bases less detrimental to growth and jobs, in particular through environmental taxation
- Removing environmentally harmful subsidies.
In view of its 2013 assessment, the Commission proposed climate-relevant country-specific recommendations to 16 Member States. The issue most frequently addressed in these recommendations relates to promoting fiscal frameworks which both allow for growth-friendly fiscal consolidation and help to set prices at a level that reflects environmental costs, for instance through the introduction of a clear carbon price in sectors not covered by the EU ETS.