The European Union has agreed climate and energy goals for 2030. These objectives include, among others: reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40%; increase the share of renewable energy to at least 27% of total final energy consumption; improve the efficiency of energy consumption by at least 27-30%.
But while the targets are clear, what remains less clear is how the EU is to ensure that they are collectively achieved by its 28 Member States and how the actions Member States take to meet their goals by 2030 can be made consistent with Europe’s more ambitious, climate objectives to reduce emissions by 80-95% by 2050. This paper puts forward a proposal for a new European Energy Union "governance mechanism" that attempts to answer these questions, taking into account the priorities of different Member States in the current European context.
A HEIGHTENED ROLE FOR NATIONAL OWNERSHIP AND COMPETENCIES
The EU’s 2020 Climate and Energy Package could assign legally-binding national targets to Member States for different aspects of their energy systems, such as for renewable energy, because these targets, although ambitious, remained at the margins of the national energy mix. But as the low-carbon transition makes progress, the changes required to national energy mixes become more fundamental and structural, and national competencies become increasingly important in defining the strategic direction of the energy sector and decarbonisation strategies.
A NEED TO ENSURE CONSISTENCY BETWEEN THE EU'S 2030 AND 2050 CLIMATE GOALS
However, it is also crucial that Member State’s nationally determined strategies are consistent with the EU’s overarching climate and energy goals, both to 2030 and 2050, and that their progress on key areas of EU relevance and competency can be effectively monitored. Doing this will require a more nuanced approach to governing EU climate policy than the two extremes that are currently presented in the debate: either a) a set of top-down, legally binding targets for all aspects of Energy Union, or b) a harmonised but ultimately very weak planning and reporting instrument with no buy-in or commitment from Member States.
A DIFFERENTIATED APPROACH TO PLANNING AND REPORTING ON THE ENERGY UNION PROJECT
This paper proposes a differentiated approach to the new climate and energy planning and reporting framework that the European Commission has proposed to govern the 2030 Framework and Energy Union project. Specifically, national plans should be made up of a three modules or chapters with different levels of commitment, rights of review by the Commission and reporting obligations attached to each. Modules would include: 1. A high-level Energy Union strategy to implement core EU goals with high-level of commitment and intensive review; 2. Detailed policies and measures document mainly for transparency and coordination purposes with less intensive review; 3. A 2050 decarbonisation strategy that is non-binding but provides direction to modules 1 and 2.