European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič was in France on 4-6 October 2017 for the second leg of the Energy Union tour. The Energy Union is the EU's strategy to ensure that European citizens have access to secure, affordable and clean energy.
Before the visit, Vice-President Šefčovič said:
The European Commission and France have the same vision and a shared goal: to be at the forefront of the energy transition. President Macron recently stressed the strategic importance of the clean energy transition for France and for Europe. We will therefore work in close collaboration to make a real success of this for French citizens and businesses. Together we can work towards the thermal renovation of buildings, the expansion of interconnections, cleaner means of transport, less air pollution, land-use change, and making sure that all citizens benefit from this transformation.
Between 2005 and 2015 France decreased its primary energy consumption (the total energy it uses) by 8% and its final energy consumption (the total consumed by end users) by 10%. Over the same period, its GDP increased by 8.9%. This shows that France has been decoupling its rate of economic growth from its energy consumption successfully. However, France still needs to make further efforts to meet its energy efficiency targets for 2020, and also to do more to ensure that it remains on the right track to meet its renewables targets. The recent adoption of its 'Plan Climat', which aims to advance the country's energy transition and ensure that the Paris Agreement is upheld, should help to make this happen.
Overall France is performing well on all five dimensions of the Energy Union, in particular in decarbonisation but also security of supply. France is also part of two High Level Groups that coordinate the development of cross-border energy infrastructure in the EU: North Seas Energy Cooperation and Interconnections for South West Europe. The latter group oversees projects to increase the interconnections between the Iberian Peninsula's markets and France and the rest of Europe. Specific projects, such as a proposed interconnection in the Bay of Biscay that is an EU Project of Common Interest, will strongly contribute to the reinforcement of the EU's internal market.
He met the Minister for Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire, Minister for the Ecological Transition Nicolas Hulot, and Minister for Transport Elisabeth Borne. France's energy and climate targets for 2020 and 2030 and its new 'Plan Climat' for 2050 were on the agenda, in addition to European mobility, energy, innovation and competition policy. The Vice-President also met leading start-up representatives, innovators and investors to promote European Clean-Tech and FrenchTech, and opened a conference on the subject of the energy transition in France. He also visited innovative projects for electric self-driving vehicles developed by the VEDECOM Institute. Finally he participated in a Citizens' Dialogue in Bordeaux with the theme 'Europe and the energy transition', alongside Bertrand Piccard, president of the Solar Impulse foundation. The EU has put investment in the clean energy transition at the heart of its strategy for growth and jobs, and this was an opportunity to debate a wide range of issues linked to sustainable mobility, smart cities, innovation and renewable energy with French citizens.
As part of the 2017 Energy Union Tour, the Vice-President previously visited the Netherlands, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Portugal, Estonia, Belgium and Romania. Upcoming dates and more information on the 2017 Energy Union tour are available here.