On 19 June the Expert Group on Interconnection Targets has handed their recommendations to Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete on how to assess and consider the importance of "Electricity interconnections with neighbouring countries" and on "Public engagement and acceptance in the planning and implementation of European electricity interconnectors".
These are the second and third reports that the selected group of experts has worked on since the Commission established the Group in March 2016. Their recommendations on making the 15 % target for electricity interconnection operational in the first report on "Towards a sustainable and integrated Europe" have been included in the framework of the Regulation on the Governance of Energy Union and the integrated National Energy and Climate plans. Two other important issues have arisen from the Group’s first report, which are now addressed in the two new publications.
Interconnectors with third countries contribute to increasing trade in electricity and can help integrate more renewables into the system and in certain cases ensuring security of supply and stability of grids. However, we need to carefully assess the balance between such benefits and the unwanted consequences, such as carbon leakage or the application of lower environmental, safety and transparency standards or discriminatory market rules.
Lack of public acceptance on the ground remains one of the main reasons for the delay in implementation of key infrastructure projects needed for the completion of the internal energy market. Whilst the trans-European energy network policy and its instruments set a solid reference point for transparency, public consultations and stakeholder engagement, more is needed in order to mainstream best practices in project implementation and share benefits with citizens and local communities.
19 June 2019