EU advocates Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy

At the meeting of the European Council held in Brussels on 19 and 20 March 2015, the heads of state and government of the EU Member States presented their conclusions on the Energy Union.

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What does the EU's future climate and energy policy look like? The answer is to be provided by the EU's most ambitious energy project for a long time: the Energy Union. At the meeting of the European Council held in Brussels on 19 and 20 March 2015, the European heads of state and government committed to building this Energy Union. They aim to accelerate the construction of electricity and gas connections between the EU Member States. That would benefit consumers most of all: according to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, it could save them some 40 billion euros per year. Because if all national energy grids were interconnected and Member States helped each other out, the EU would have to import less energy.

Five dimensions, one objective: to reinforce Europe's energy market

The Energy Union should focus on five areas (known as "dimensions"). These are closely inter-related:

  • energy security
  • a fully integrated European internal energy market
  • energy efficiency
  • decarbonising the economy
  • research, innovation and competitiveness

Specifically, the heads of state and government agreed at their meeting for example to promote renewables more strongly, to effectively take advantage of energy-saving options and to check out possibilities for joining together to buy gas. Also, a strategy is to be devised for jump-starting the development of new technologies, for example for storing electricity.

State Secretary Baake: close cooperation between the Member States is important

The European Commission had tabled the plans for the Energy Union towards the end of February. Rainer Baake, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), stressed that the European Energy Union must set clear signals for the large-scale investment needed to transform the energy systems in Europe. At the same time he emphasized the cardinal role of the European internal energy market for the Energy Union. "The security of the electricity and gas supply can most effectively be assured by cross-border approaches. It is important for the Member States to cooperate closely in this context to achieve affordable solutions for consumers," says Baake. Another important element in the opinion of the BMWi is the announced intention to develop the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) infrastructure. LPG could then be a welcome option in future gas supply crises.

On the issue of climate protection, however, the BMWi still considers it necessary to spell out more specific details if the EU wants to be sure of achieving its self-imposed targets by 2030. There needs to be a credible and sound framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the share of renewables and improving energy efficiency: because the active stakeholders in the European energy transition need dependable terms of reference for planning their investments.