On March 27, 2013, the European Commission published a Green Paper (COM(2013) 169 final) that launches a public consultation on the content of the EU’s 2030 framework for climate change and energy policies. The EU acknowledges it is making good progress toward achieving its 2020 targets but considers it essential to envisage a new 2030 framework for climate change and energy policies, to provide investors and stakeholders alike with sufficient visibility.

This next step is all the more necessary, says the Commission, because significant changes have taken place since the EU’s original 2008–2009 framework was established. Such changes over the last five years include the consequences of the global economic crisis, the budget constraints of Member States, developments on EU and global energy markets (i.e., the rise of unconventional gas and oil exploitation), the issue of the affordability of energy for households, and the growing competitiveness concerns of business. Bearing in mind these issues, in particular the ongoing economic downturn, the Commission’s purpose remains an ambitious one: meeting the long-terms goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80–95 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

In order to set the stage for the next 15 years or so, the Green Paper reviews past achievements with the 20 percent emission reduction target for 2020, the development of renewable energy technologies, energy savings, and the security of supply and affordability of energy. Then, the Commission identifies four broad issues that structure the questions stakeholders are asked to consider.

First, how should the type, nature, and level of climate and energy targets be set? Indeed, the dominance of the 20 percent greenhouse gas reduction target at the EU level is not necessarily the most relevant one. A wider variety of targets and objectives at the EU level, as well as national or even local levels, may be more appropriate.

Second, coherence among policy instruments is also regarded as a key issue. Emphasis in this respect is placed on the need to strike a balance between the implementation of measures at the EU level and Member States’ flexibility to pursue targets at a pace and according to measures most adapted to domestic circumstances, while not fragmenting the internal market.

Third and unsurprisingly, the competitiveness of the EU economy is also factored into the Commission’s approach as a major policy driver in a 2030 perspective. In that regard, the Commission remains notably confident that energy and climate policies can foster growth in the low-carbon economy through the potential of energy-efficient and eco-friendly technologies to create five million jobs alone by 2020.

Fourth, drawing from recent Member States’ experiences with their respective capacities to act in adverse situations, the Commission believes that their diversity and response abilities must be taken into account when devising a climate and energy policy framework for 2030. A fair and equitable sharing of the effort will be pursued by the Commission, while at the same time seeking measures likely to facilitate public acceptance.

The consultation based on the Green Paper will be open for comment until July 2, 2013. Based on the views expressed by Member States, EU institutions, and stakeholders, the Commission contemplates finalizing the EU’s 2030 framework for climate and energy policies by the end of 2013.