On 18 May 2017 the European Commission, together with 14 EU countries (Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden) signed a political declaration to launch the new 'Clean Energy for EU Islands' initiative. Aimed at accelerating the clean energy transition on Europe's more than 2700 islands, this initiative will help islands reduce their dependency on energy imports by making better use of their own renewable energy sources and embracing more modern and innovative energy systems. This will help reduce energy costs and at the same time improve air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Signed in Valetta in the margins of the Informal Energy Council, which brings together EU energy ministers, the initiative will provide opportunities to compare notes on common problems that different islands face, building on best practices and experience from pilot projects. Part of the scheme is also intended to make it easier to access new energy technologies and sources of funding. The initiative was originally announced as part of the Commission's 'Clean Energy for All Europeans' package of proposals in November 2016.
Marking this new initiative, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "Due to their location, many of our islands have expensive oil-based energy structures which mean that they are still dependent on costly fossil fuel imports. The "Clean Energy for EU Islands" initiative will help them to access the support, expertise and funding they need to go local and generate their own clean, low-cost energy from renewable sources".
The initiative will create a forum for all those with an interest in the clean energy transition on EU islands to share best practice and support the creation of a long-term framework to promote funding and technical assistance.
At the meeting of the Informal Energy Council, ministers also looked at the proposal for a revised Energy Efficiency Directive included in the 'Clean Energy for All Europeans' package, including the Commission's proposal to move to a binding 30% energy efficiency target for the EU as a whole by 2030.
The Informal Council was followed by an Informal High Level Meeting on Energy Efficiency in the Mediterranean. Ministers, along with representatives of the Commission, private sector and regional bodies, discussed how to increase energy efficiency in the Mediterranean's buildings and the tourism sector.