Thank you for the invitation, and for the opportunity to present to you today the Second State of the Energy Union Report, only a few hours after it was adopted this morning by College.
As you may remember, the Parliament was one of my first stops in presenting the first Report as well, and this is no coincidence. It reflects the importance I see in working very closely with you, the European Parliament; in co-piloting the Energy Union. Only through close partnership can we ensure that the legislative proposals of the November package will be adopted over the next 9 months. This is the objective I presented last week in the ITRE Committee, in line with the December Declaration of our three institutions. A quick adoption is important, so that our proposals can be swiftly transposed by the Member States and be put into action. It would also send an important message to EU citizens that when it comes to the Energy Union, we mean business. 'We', being all EU institutions.
While negotiations on the legislative proposals are ongoing, my colleauges and I are not sitting and waiting. To the extent possible, the Commission will already start the implementation of the Energy Union on the ground.
That is one of the key messages of the second State of the Energy Union: while 2016 was a “year of delivery” 2017 will be a "year of implementation". What does that mean in practice? It means that apart from the upcoming legislation on on low-emission mobility, we have delivered on all Energy Union proposals. We are now ready for the next phase.
The second State of the Energy Union serves exactly for that next phase. It give us a good overview of where we stand and what has been achieved both at EU and national levels.
Our thorough analysis shows that the European Union is largely on track. For instance, among major global economies, Europe is one of the most greenhouse gas efficient. This creates significant 'first-mover opportunities' for European companies.
But we are in no way in a position to rest on our laurels. Other parts of the world are also speeding up their efforts, they are also modernising their economies and they are also increasing their competitiveness. There is no room for complacency if we want to remain global leaders in areas such as clean technologies.
The State of the Energy Union Report therefore also looks forward and identifies the work that still has to be done; it sets the political priorities for this year. In line with the Energy Union Strategy, these priorities go far beyond energy and climate alone. The Energy Union is about accelerating the modernisation of our entire economy:
making it low-carbon;
making it efficient in the use of energy and resources;
making sure our economy is socially fair and consumer-oriented;
and strengthening the Energy Union’s external dimension. In the current, ever-changing and volatile geopolitical context, we need European global leadership. This is true in the field of climate action but also for safeguarding our competitiveness, jobs and economic interests.
Such over-arching approach implies strengthening the ties between the Energy Union Project and other European flagship policies, such as the circular economy, the Digital Single Market, the Security Union, our Skills Agenda, the EU’s economy and climate diplomacy, our investment policies, and so on.
What does it mean in practice? Simply put: when we look at the modernisation of our economy, we will also need to look at:
the huge job potential of the green economy;
the heavy economic costs of air pollution;
the threats of cyberattacks;
and so on.
It means we must make sure that each and every new measure benefits consumers, especially vulnerable ones.
It means that we will make real progress this year on providing the missing infrastructure links. We will look deeper into how we can avoid stranded assets, for example when preparing the next list of Projects of Common Interest.
It means that we must step up even further our investment policies. For this purpose we will set up investment platforms on the ground, in all Member States.
It also means that we will make Europe's global leadership more concrete by helping the developing world – Africa in particular - jump over the fossil age.
These are just a few of examples to give you gist of the Report. As you can see, a lot remains to be done!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
With the State of the Energy Union, I am also launching a second Energy Union Tour. I will once again visit the Member States and I hereby invite you to join me when I visit your constituencies. Even in case you can't join me in person, I encourage you to help me bring the message of the Energy Union to your electorates. Help me convey the urgency of the energy transition, and the opportunities it brings to our citizens.
As I've mentioned earlier, we intend to make 2017 the Energy Union's "year of implementation". I will therefore use this tour to campaign and push for the swift implementation of the Energy Union at the national level but also at local level, which is becoming increasingly important.
I will discuss with the government representatives the importance of presenting their National Energy and Climate Plans. We will together ensure that drafts will be presented by the end of 2017. I will also emphasise the need for a broad consultation of the plans, within the Member States with all relevant stakeholders, but also with the neighbouring Member States on a regional level.
At the local level, my Tour will be a good opportunity to showcase some of the most promising and innovative projects of cities and regions. It is important that we provide such projects with strong tail-wind and match them with financing. I am glad to share with you that we are actively working on that, in cooperation with the Committee of the Regions. Showing concrete progress on the ground, will help our citizens to visualise and grasp the multiple benefits of the clean energy transition.
Let me once again thank you for your support in realising our joint ambition. I will stop here as I would like to take note of your comments on today's Report.