|Energy in Europe|
With my first newsletter as Director-General of DG ENER I would like first of all to send all our readers our best wishes for 2014.
This year will be particularly important for Europe and for energy policy. Energy prices, shale gas, nuclear safety, renewables support and more efficient homes and transport are key issues for society. Energy will be at the top of the political agenda this year, notably at the European Council's meeting in March.
My aim is to make sure that European energy policy helps promote a prosperous society, a strong economy, a flexible, reliable and competitive energy system and a sustainable environment. I want to listen to all our stakeholders and global partners, to find a good balance between sustainability and economic competitiveness. Together, we can make European energy policy a reference point for efficiency, transparency and effectiveness.
While Director-General at the Joint Research Centre, I witnessed first-hand the importance of European energy policy to society – for research policy and researchers in many diverse sectors, for technology industries, for skilled workers and for investments in a modern, smart and efficient economy.
My arrival as Director-General of Energy coincides with one important step in European energy policy - the Commission's adoption of its proposals for the energy and climate policy 2030.
2030 may seem a long way off, but in energy terms it is already here. Large parts of the electricity capacity, cars, houses and large scale industrial projects which will be driving our economy in 2030 are either already built, or in the pipeline today. EU strategies for 2020 have changed our energy landscape for the better. Lessons have also been learned. With the full commitment of Member States, industry and consumers, EU policies for 2030 will also help strengthen our energy system and steer us towards a low-emission economy. This is a huge responsibility for us all.
It is an honour to lead the Commission's DG for Energy at this time. I look forward to meeting many of you and debating these important themes with you over the coming months and years.
Director-General for Energy
|Press room – Highlights of the month|
Presentation of the 2030 energy and climate goals for a competitive, secure and low-carbon EU economy, 22 January 2014
A reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% below the 1990 level, an EU-wide binding target for renewable energy of at least 27%, renewed ambitions for energy efficiency policies, a new governance system and a set of new indicators to ensure a competitive and secure energy system. These are the pillars of the new EU framework on energy and climate for 2030 presented on 22 January by the European Commission.
Read the press release: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-54_en.htm
Watch the press conference: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/audio/audioDetails.cfm?ref=I-085551&sitelang=fr
Presentation of the study on energy prices and costs, 22 January 2014
The Communication setting out the 2030 energy and climate framework was accompanied by a Report on energy prices and costs, which assesses the key drivers for price and cost increases and decreases and compares EU prices with those of its main trading partners. Energy prices have risen in nearly every Member State since 2008 – mainly because of taxes and levies, but also due to higher network costs. The comparison with international partners highlights rising price differentials, notably with US gas prices – which could undermine Europe's competitiveness, particularly for energy intensive industries. Nevertheless, rising energy prices can be partly offset by cost effective energy and climate policies, competitive energy markets and improved energy efficiency measures
EU-Russia Permanent Partnership Council, 17 January, Moscow
On 17 January 2014, Commissioner Oettinger had meetings with the Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak in the framework of the EU-Russia Permanent Partnership Council (PPC) on Energy in Moscow. They discussed key topics in the EU-Russia energy relations such as the impact of legislation reforms on both sides and the importance of making progress in strengthening the legal basis of our energy relations. The Commissioner also encouraged market-oriented reform in the Russian energy sector and favourable conditions for investments by EU energy companies. The Permanent Partnership Council was established within the EU-Russia Energy Dialogue following the 2003 EU-Russia Summit and it aims at bolstering the energy relations by providing political steering to the dialogue on key energy issues of mutual interest.
Read more about EU-Russia energy relations: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/international/russia/russia_en.htm
|Featured posts from our Social Media / Audiovisual Corner|
21 January 2014, Brussels
Nuclear Liability Seminar "Taking nuclear third party liability into the future"
"Discussed EU action for a better #nuclear #liability regime: adequate compensation while keeping industry competitive & energy affordable"
10 January 2014, Brussels
Midday press briefing on Ukraine by Sabine Berger, Spokesperson for Energy
Watch the Press briefing: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?sitelang=en&ref=I085418
|Event in the spotlight|
Inaugural meeting of the Greek Presidency of the Council of the EU with the EC
President Barroso: "I am glad to see that the Greek presidency is also prioritising agreements on key files to boost trade and the single market, as well as an ambitious energy and climate change framework to 2030. "
Read the full speech: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-14-4_en.htm?locale=en
January infringements package
Referrals to the Court of Justice:
Renewable Energy: Commission refers IRELAND to Court for failing to transpose EU rules
The European Commission is referring Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to fully transpose the Renewable Energy Directive. The Directive aims at ensuring a 20% share of renewable energy in the EU by 2020. The Directive had to be transposed by the Member States by 5 December 2010.
The Commission proposes a daily penalty of EUR 25 447.5. The penalties proposed take into account the duration and the gravity of the infringement. In case of an affirmative judgement of the Court, the daily penalty is to be paid from the date of the judgment until the transposition is completed. The final amount of the daily penalties will be decided by the Court.
Energy Services: the Commission asks the Czech Republic to ensure that final energy consumers are provided with individual meters
The Commission has today formally requested the Czech Republic to bring its national law in line with the EU Energy Services Directive (2006/32/EC). Under this Directive the Member States have to ensure that final energy customers are provided with competitively priced individual meters that accurately reflect their actual consumption. Individual metering plays a crucial role for promoting the efficient use of energy as it allows energy consumers to better monitor their individual consumption of electricity, gas, heating/cooling or hot water. Individual metering is also needed for the provision of individual billing based on actual consumption. The Directive had to be fully transposed into national law by 17 May 2008. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under the EU infringement procedure. If the Czech Republic does not comply with its legal obligation within two months, the Commission may decide to refer it to the Court of Justice.
More information on the Energy Services Directive: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/efficiency/end-use_en.htm
Read the full press release on January infringements: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-36_en.htm
Evaluation of the activities of ACER
The Third Energy Package has set up a new institutional framework which includes the establishment of the Agency for the Cooperation of the Energy Regulator (ACER). ACER was established in order to fill regulatory gap, with the purpose to assist national regulatory authorities, and, if necessary to coordinate their actions. ACER plays a central role in the development of a single Internal Energy Market in the EU.
The Commission is required to carry out an evaluation of the activities of ACER, and adopted a report on 22 January which covers the results achieved by ACER and its working methods, in relation with its objective, mandate and tasks defined in its founding Regulation and in its annual work programs. The evaluation is based on the results of a public consultation that took place from 17/06/2013 to 18/09/2013 and to which sixteen stakeholders replied.
The full evaluation report is published at: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/gas_electricity/acer/doc/20140122_acer_com_evaluation.pdf
Vulnerable Consumer Working Group Guidance Document on Vulnerable Consumers
The Vulnerable Consumer Working Group, established under a mandate from the Citizens' Energy Forum, has now finalised its report on vulnerable consumers and energy poverty. The Guidance Document aims to assist Member States with their obligation under the Third Energy Package to define the concept of vulnerable customers and to address energy poverty. The Document includes a table setting out the main causes and aggravating factors of vulnerability, which offers guidance for defining the concept. It provides recommendations for different stakeholders (Government, regulators, ombudsmen, industry etc.) to reduce the risk of vulnerability in the energy sector and to mitigate the effects of energy poverty. The Document also includes a wide range of examples of instruments and practices already in place in Member States which can be replicated elsewhere, subject to national situations.
|Question from a Member of the European Parliament|
By Iñaki Irazabalbeitia Fernández (Verts/ALE)
Subject: The rise in coal consumption in Europe and climate change
A study carried out by the energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie states that coal will be the dominant primary energy source at the end of this decade, mainly due to energy demands in developing countries.
Coal consumption is also increasing in Europe, having risen in countries such as Spain, France and Italy in the past two years. This increase has taken place in eight EU Member States and is likely to occur in other Member States, such as Germany, in the very near future.
Is the Commission aware of this fact? Has the Commission assessed the possible impact of the increased use of coal as a primary energy source in the EU on compliance with the goals set down in European climate-change policy (e.g. the Energy Roadmap 2050)?
Coal remains an important energy source on a global scale. For example, the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its 2013 World Energy Outlook foresees the important role of this fossil fuel, notably in developing countries.
The role of coal increased over the last couple of years in power generation in many EU countries, mainly due to cheap coal imports from third countries and permanently low emission allowance prices, which offered competitive alternative to gas-fired generation, as gas prices remained high, partly due to still existing oil-price indexation and decreasing liquified natural gas (LNG) imports to the continent.
The intermittent nature (non-availability during all the time) of renewables (solar and wind) requires back-up capacities in the power mixes. With the increasing role of renewables and the decreasing role of nuclear generation, following decisions on taking nuclear plants off the grid in some EU countries, the role of coal increases in power generation.
It is important to note that EU Member States have the right to decide on their own power generation mixes. However, Member States also need to comply with their binding renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions targets, setting a pathway until 2020, which is regularly monitored by the Commission services. In light of this, all Energy Roadmap 2050 scenarios reckon with a gradually decreasing role of coal in the European energy mix.
|Figure of the month|
Future job opportunities will be affected by ongoing efforts to improve energy efficiency. For example, the European Commission, estimates that retrofitting houses could generate around 280 000–450 000 new jobs (gross measure) for energy auditors, certifiers, inspectors of heating systems, renewable technology installers and industries producing energy efficient materials for buildings – with particularly strong potential in Central and Eastern Europe where the least energy-efficient buildings are located.
Source: 2013 Employment and Social Developments in Europe Review
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published by European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy, B-1049