The Commission’s Third Report on the State of the European Energy Union was published on 24 November 2017. The report reflects EU’s progress regarding the implementation of the Energy Union project and its impact on jobs, growth and investments in 2017. The report also points to tendencies in the coming year.
The Commission pointed to Europe’s progressive transition from a fossil fuels-based energy system to a low-carbon, fully digital and consumer centric one. The report highlights that this main trend, observed during the past years, has continued and has strengthened in some areas.
The Commission reported the share of renewable energy in the EU energy mix continues to rise and is likely to reach the 20% target by 2020 (under the so called “Europe 2020 Strategy”, the EU Member States (“MS”) have to reduce emissions greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% compared to 1990 levels, increase the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption by 20% and increase efficient energy use by 20%). The Commission concluded that MS’ Gross Domestic Product has increased while greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced. The Commission underlined that this process has been facilitated by innovation in the energy sector.
The Commission report confirms that energy transition cannot be achieved without adapting existing infrastructure to the needs of future energy systems. The report highlights that infrastructures used in the fields of energy, transport and telecommunications, are increasingly interconnected. The Commission advised project promoters applying for financial support to create synergies between infrastructures in these three fields and to develop the next generation of smart infrastructure while optimizing the use of existing links. The Commission reminded that increasing digitalization of infrastructure provides for smart grid management.
The report suggests that local networks will be of key importance for EU citizens as they would increasingly switch to decentralized energy production (electrical generation and storage performed by a variety of small, grid-connected devices located close to the load they serve) and electro-mobility (usually defined as a road transport system based on vehicles that are propelled of electricity).
The report makes reference to the correlation between energy poverty (i.e. lack of access to modern energy services) and energy efficiency (a concept that traditionally suggests reducing the amount of energy required to provide products and services). In fact, high energy consumption due to low energy efficiency increases energy costs. Therefore, energy efficiency can substantially improve a household’s ability to afford the required energy services, particularly if incomes are low. The Commission reminded that energy poverty in the EU affects nearly 50 million people and stressed that this issue should be addressed through higher energy efficiency, safeguards against disconnection and monitoring by MS.
The Commission emphasized that the completion of the European Energy Union requires close cooperation between the Commission, MS and society. The EU’s main executive body insisted that MS need to finalize their agendas on energy policy and climate protection for the post-2020 period by early 2018.
With reference to the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the Commission announced that the EU should affirm its commitment to fight against climate change and to strengthen global partnerships to this purpose.