Sustainable Energy: The clean energy transition can showcase the EU at its best

This year's EU Sustainable Energy Week comes at a particularly interesting time, writes Dominique Ristori.

The clean energy transition can showcase the EU at its best | Photo credit: Adobe Stock

By Dominique Ristori

13 Jun 2017

The EU is well placed to lead the clean energy transition process. The European Commission has now presented the main legislative proposals for the energy union - half way through President Jean-Claude Juncker's mandate - and attention is now concentrated on reaching agreement with the co-legislators.

In this context, our EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) is more important than ever as it offers a range of events - for policymakers, stakeholders and the general public - to look at questions of sustainable energy from different perspectives.

These vary from helping the general public to understand the challenges out there, the considerable progress that has already been made and the way forward. Sustainable Energy Week will include a three-day policy conference, taking place from 20 June and 22 June in Brussels, looking at how we can best steer this clean energy transition.


On this last point I would like to underline that the Commission has delivered on its remit. The transition towards a secure, competitive and sustainable energy system will not happen overnight. It requires a performant and stable regulatory framework at EU level that is flexible enough to adapt to the challenges ahead. 

And this is precisely what is intended with the 'Clean energy for all Europeans' package, published by the European Commission last November and which will be the focus of this year's EUSEW edition.

As co-legislators, the European Parliament and the Council are now working on their positions, and our objective is to reach a political agreement as soon as possible. 

Through the revised policy and regulatory framework, we can help all parts of the energy supply chain to embrace innovation and encourage an efficient use of new technologies to support this process, and drive investment.

Getting the right agreement with the suitable level of ambition will not only set a clear path for achieving our commitments under the Paris agreement - and thereby showing leadership on this vital issue - but also has the potential to accelerate economic growth and create new jobs, in particular among SMEs.

In broad terms, the package covers renewable energy, energy efficiency, including energy performance in buildings - one of the areas with considerable potential for improvement - market design, and governance.

We are pleased that these proposals have triggered a particularly active response from national parliaments, as encouraged by the treaty of Lisbon, with 62 opinions submitted on the various proposals. This valuable exchange enriches the debate, respects the subsidiarity principle and strengthens the process of political dialogue.

One of the central aspects of our legislative proposals is putting the consumer at the centre of the energy system. 

With the proposed new provisions, consumers will not only be better informed and better protected, but also empowered to produce their own clean energy and store it, sell it and manage it the way they choose.

This approach will enable Europe to achieve its targets faster, more cost effectively and, most importantly, in a way that citizens will feel that they have a common ownership of this achievement.

Through our proposals revisiting the existing legislation, we have also confirmed the principle of energy efficiency first and raised the ambition level for energy efficiency in the 2030 perspective. 

The energy efficiency target of 30 per cent binding at EU level is expected to translate into up to €70bn of additional gross domestic product and bring 400,000 more jobs, as well as further reduce the EU's fossil fuel import bill.

One other key point that is often raised regards renewable energy, where the EU is leading the global ambition for a fast and cost-efficient decarbonisation of the energy system.

While there is still a lot of potential to unlock, the progress that the EU has already made should not be underestimated. Wind has now overtaken coal as the second most importance source of energy in Europe (after gas) and offshore wind projects have witnessed significant cost decreases.

Compared with 2005, the increase in renewable energy consumption has enabled the EU to cut its demand for fossil fuels by the equivalent of Spain's gross inland energy consumption. In addition to this, we now have more than one million European jobs in the renewables sector.

All in all, the clean energy transition has the potential to be a clear example of the EU at its best. The challenges we face - such as improving the security of energy supplies and global warming - are all issues that are better addressed together. 

Without intervening in member states' sovereign decisions on their energy mix, the EU is providing synergies so that we can address these issues in the most efficient way, helping to bridge gaps and ease bottlenecks, sharing and comparing best practices. 

Moreover, we create a favourable and predictable environment for investments in clean energy technologies that will keep Europe at the forefront of the global efforts for a cleaner and more sustainable world.

I hope that this year's EU Sustainable Energy Week will raise public awareness and understanding of the challenges and opportunities of the clean energy transition. I invite Parliament Magazine readers to actively participate and follow the EU Sustainable Energy Week 2017 edition and look forward to interesting discussions and innovative ideas.


Read the most recent articles written by Dominique Ristori - Sustainable Energy Week: The path to a carbon neutral Europe

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