EU energy ministers thrash out energy target agreement

Miguel Arias CañeteMiguel Arias Cañete

EU energy ministers are hesitant to increase the energy saving target to 30%. Such a change might affect gas exports from Norway.


The difficult negotiations continued right up until the end of the EU Energy Ministers’ conference in Luxembourg on Monday. Eventually, they managed to thrash out a common position.
The EU’s energy efficiency target was under discussion.
 Today, the EU has an indicative energy saving target of 27% by 2030. The EU Commission had proposed to tighten the target to 30% and make that figure binding at EU level.
Eventually, all the energy ministers joined the stronger target provision, but chose to delete the word ‘binding’.
Diluted regulations
Simultaneously, there were several changes made to the regulations for what should be included in the account, and the amount each member state in the EU must contribute to reach the target.
Critical voices believe the summit was nothing more than a matter of creative accounting, and an attempt to dilute the regulations.
‘The compromise has a lower level of ambition than the EU Commission’s proposal,’ said EU climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, after the meeting.
During the course of discussion, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and Hungary had all opposed increasing the target.
The final negotiations lie in the future
Arias said that he hopes the level of ambition can be raised again during the final negotiations, which must result in the Council of Ministers entering into a joint compromise agreement with the EU Commission, and the European Parliament.
The European Parliament’s jury is still out, but they are expected to go for an even stricter target than the 30% initially proposed by the European Commission.
Earlier, the European Parliament had voted for a 40% energy saving target by 2030. Now the compromise proposal sets the target to 35%.
Rams gas
The target saving is a ‘sensitive issue’ for the petroleum industry in Norway, as energy saving would curb the EU’s gas demand, which could affect Norwegian exporters.
The EU’s own calculations show that an increase to 30% will reduce the need for imported gas by 12% less than if the target had been 27%.
However, the EU is ready to import more gas by 2030 than it does today. Imports amounted to 254 billion cubic meters of gas in 2014. They are expected to rise to 270 billion cubic meters by 2030, despite the increased savings target.
This is primarily because the EU’s own gas production is in progress toward commencement of operations.

Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today

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