Blog post

The EU 2030 Climate and Energy Framework: Keeping up the pressure on governance structures

The Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council on 26 November should indicate a clear way forward.

Publishing date
17 September 2015

In 2009 the EU adopted three targets (see chart) to meet its energy policy objectives of developing a sustainable, secure and competitive energy system. The targets were translated into nationally binding legislation in 2009 (A revised ETS, Effort Sharing Decision, Renewable Energy Directive) and in 2012 (Energy Efficiency Directive).

These measures have had a substantial impact on the EU energy system;the share of renewable energy in EU gross energy consumption reached 15.3% in 2014, and the majority of member states are expected to meet their 2020 renewable energy targets.

In the run-up to the Paris climate conference, and in order to provide guidance to the industry, in 2014 the European Commission proposed a new 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework, which was endorsed -with slight adjustments - by the European Council of October 2014 (see chart).

Simone_Georg_17-09-15

The most controversial aspect of this new 2030 Framework is that, unlike in the previous 2020 Package, the new EU targets will not be translated into national binding targets through EU legislation. Following the approval of the European Council, the European Commission (EC) initially proposed to implement the 2030 Framework at the end of February 2015. The proposals, set out in the Energy Union Package, aim to provide a coherent approach to climate change, energy security and competitiveness, and to achieve the goals agreed under the 2030 Framework.

Officially this is due to the willingness to leave "greater flexibility for member states" in line with the provisions set out in Article 194(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on the issue of national control over the energy mix.

However in reality member states do not share a common vision on how the EU energy market should be organized. Therefore they seek maximum flexibility in order to conduct their national energy policies. For instance, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic suggest that the new Framework "should only be sufficient to enable an assessment of collective progress, and should be significantly less prescriptive than is currently the case under the 2020 climate and energy package".

This situation raises questions on how the new 2030 Framework will be implemented, and consequently brings the issue of governance into the spotlight.

A lack of strong EU policies is allowing member states to pursue policies that fragment the internal energy market. The lack of binding national targets carries the risk that national efforts will not add up to the EU aggregate commitments.

In the absence of binding obligations for member states, only a solid governance structure can guarantee that the 2030 targets will be achieved.  In particular, investors' confidence could be undermined without a strong and reliable governance system.

Anticipating this problem, the EC has proposed a potential governance scheme based on national plans for competitive, secure and sustainable energy in the 2030 framework communication. It structured the scheme on three key steps: i) "Detailed guidelines to be prepared by the EC on the content of national plans"; ii) "Preparation of Member State plans through iterative process"; iii) "Assessment of the Member States' plans and commitments" (if insufficient, "a deeper iterative process would take place between the EC and the Member State to reinforce the plan's content").

The October 2014 European Council meeting took a much more vague stance on the issue,  and calling for the establishment of a “reliable and transparent governance system without any unnecessary administrative burden”, to be built on "existing building blocks" such as national climate, renewable energy and energy efficiency plans.

The issue of the governance of the 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework thus continues to remain largely unresolved. On September 1, 2015 the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU sent a note to the delegations with the Draft Council Conclusions on the Governance System of the Energy Union prepared for the forthcoming Transport, Telecommunication and Energy (TTE) Council that will be held in Luxembourg on November 26, 2015.

In line with the concepts already developed by the EC, the document outlines a governance system based on national energy and climate plans followed by progress reports on the implementation of the same plans, with “aspirational and iterative Dialogue and Monitoring based inter alia on key performance indicators”. According to the document, the “governance cycle will also serve as an 'early warning system' by enabling early identification of possible risks and shortfalls as regards all EU energy policy objectives and agreed climate and energy targets.”

Notwithstanding the document’s numerous (and highly bureaucratic) statements, it is still not clear how the proposed governance system would work and in particular how the EC could intervene if a member state didn't comply with its National Energy and Climate Plan. Unless these crucial issues are clarified before the TTE Council of November, another opportunity to provide real substance to the theoretical 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework will be lost.

The authors would like to thank Mark Johnston for helpful comments. They assume responsibility for all errors.

About the authors

  • Georg Zachmann

    Georg Zachmann is a Senior Fellow at Bruegel, where he has worked since 2009 on energy and climate policy. His work focuses on regional and distributional impacts of decarbonisation, the analysis and design of carbon, gas and electricity markets, and EU energy and climate policies. Previously, he worked at the German Ministry of Finance, the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin, the energy think tank LARSEN in Paris, and the policy consultancy Berlin Economics.

  • Simone Tagliapietra

    Simone Tagliapietra is a Senior fellow at Bruegel. He is also a Professor of Energy, Climate and Environmental Policy at the Catholic University of Milan and at The Johns Hopkins University - School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Europe.

    His research focuses on the European Union climate and energy policy and on the political economy of global decarbonisation. With a record of numerous policy and scientific publications, also in leading journals such as Nature and Science, he is the author of Global Energy Fundamentals (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

    His columns and policy work are published and cited in leading international media such as the BBC, CNN, Financial Times, The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, Die Zeit, Corriere della Sera, and others.

    Simone also is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Clean Air Task Force (CATF). He holds a PhD in Institutions and Policies from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. Born in the Dolomites in 1988, he speaks Italian, English and French.

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