Dods EU Briefing: EC Press conference on the European Energy Efficiency Communication

On July 23 Vice President Günther Oettinger held a press conference to present the Communication on Energy Efficiency.

By Dods EU monitoring

24 Jul 2014

Please note that this does not constitute a formal record of the proceedings of the meeting. It is dependent on interpretation and acts as an unofficial summary of the debate.

On July 23rd, Günther Oettinger, Vice President of the European Commission, held a press conference to present the European Commission Communication on Energy Efficiency, which sets a non-binding 2030 energy savings target of 30 %. Please find more details below.

Günther Oettinger, Vice President of the European Commission, presented the European Commission Communication on Energy Efficiency, the latest building block in the 2030 climate package. The EU needs 20% higher energy efficiency, he said, an indicative target agreed by the Council and the Parliament in 2012 under the Energy Efficiency Directive. Today’s Communication is a stocktaking exercise, analysing the level of implementation of member states and on this basis the EU desires to achieve around 18% -19% greater energy efficiency compared to the 2020 target. If the Member States were prepared to fully implement the binding measures, then the 20% figure would have been achieved.

Looking ahead to 2030, it should be kept in mind that unanimity is needed in the Council while a majority agreement is required within the European Parliament.

The European Council of October will look at the 2030 package at and take into account the energy efficiency component in particular. The climate package has received a positive feedback by both the EU Member States and the European Parliament.

He continued that, at the moment, it is far too early to discuss energy saving measures; the time has come to start looking ahead on achieving the 2020 measures first. Secondly, he regretted that those in favour of less Brussels won a great deal of popularity in the EU elections. This would have an impact on the EU effort to reduce emission targets or its energy dependency. It is also important to bear in mind that there are several objectives to be achieved, taking also into account the needs of the industry. The aim is that through targeted and clever energy efficiency measures, the basis would be created for a new generation of industrial products that use less energy – such as for instance vehicles, industrial machinery or appliances.

He repeated that the 2020 goals are still on the table, however he regretted that perhaps they were not sufficiently consistent themselves. On the other hand, the 40 per cent reduction of CO2 objective could best be achieved by 25% higher energy efficiency. A more ambitious energy saving target is considered appropriate though, as the energy security of the EU needs to be taken into consideration given the situation in Ukraine. This is why the 30% target has been unanimously agreed by the European Commission. He was aware that this target would meet a lot of opposition by companies. The European Council will now have to decide if this target would be binding or an indicative target.

The aim is also to produce energy while being less reliant to importation. The next Commission will be discussing reforms and the energy efficiency directive, on which a review is expected in 2017 so as to see how to ensure a fairer distribution among Member States. He concluded that his effort can be succeeded if the link between the growth and industry and energy.

Q&A

The first journalist commented that the proposal is lower of what would be necessary to result in more growth, lower bills and more energy security. He therefore asked why the European Commission did not adopt a more ambitious stance.

The Commissioner replied that a 30% target is already very ambitious. When negotiating the EED, he personally wanted a 3% figure imposed on public buildings, but the governments did not want that. Objectives should be achievable both in London and Bulgaria; however the Member States are always welcome to do more.  

A journalist from Hungary wished to know how the European Commission managed to have on board the Central EU Member States. She then asked how strong the energy security argument in the discussions was. Finally, he wished to know if a consensus or majority is needed for the adoption of the proposals.

The Commissioner responded there discussions took place among the European Commissioners, who unanimously adopted the proposal. He believed that the proposal stands a very good chance to be supported by the October European Council. As for energy security, this relates to the security of gas supply. Efforts will also continue in order to deescalate the situation in Ukraine and an agreement on the supply of gas will be achieved between Ukraine and Russia.

A journalist from REUTERS wondered what impact is expected from restricting Russia access to energy technologies, as threatened by the energy ministers.

Oettinger said that discussions on the latter go on, but a proposal from the experts is due to come up. Only then will the College discuss it and take a decision, as gas is not a policy instrument used to exert pressure. On the question about sanctions, he said that energy supplies from Russia should not be included in these sanctions. However Russians see offshore oil and gas as a good potential for the future which can only be developed through hardware and software from the West.

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