Governing the EU’s Climate and Energy Transition in Times of Turbulence II: Innovations in EU Energy Policy
EU energy policy has long aimed to achieve three main objectives: security of supply, competitiveness and sustainability. The 2030 climate and energy policy package aims to implement policy on these objectives, and specifically to address the EU’s overarching targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to increase the share of renewable energy and to improve energy efficiency. Negotiations on policy measures were completed in 2018, even within a context of turbulent governance within the EU and internationally. This panel discusses fresh and ongoing research analysing the shape, process and output of the EU’s climate and energy policy framework to 2030, focusing in particular on how targets were negotiated, on (Europeanisation processes of) national renewable energy policies, on the role of cities and communities in implementing energy policies, and on the interactions between energy market integration and security of supply concerns. The papers highlight the responses within the EU to the turbulent governance challenge, contributing to knowledge on European Studies, but also emphasise the remaining barriers both internally and externally to the EU that need to be overcome for coherent energy policy.
Presentations of the Symposium
The Winding Road to 2030: New Higher Targets for EU Renewables and Energy Efficiency. Where did they come from?
In 2014, when the European Council agreed the 2030 climate and energy framework for the EU, it endorsed several key targets: a binding EU target of at least 40% less greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990; a target, binding at EU level, of at least 27% renewable energy consumption in 2030; an indicative target at EU level of at least 27% improvement in energy efficiency in 2030. These were designed to help the EU achieve a more competitive, secure and sustainable energy system and to meet its long-term 2050 greenhouse gas reductions target. However, since 2014, the targets for renewables and energy efficiency have subsequently been increased as part of the ‘Clean Energy for all Europeans’ package. The renewables target has been raised to 32% and the energy efficiency target to 32.5%, both with scope for upward revision in 2023. What facilitated that change of heart? Building on our previous research about the ‘strange bedfellow coalition’ that rescued the troubled ETS, this paper presents fresh empirical evidence and addresses the puzzle of how and why the targets were lifted, paying particular attention to the role(s) played by business and other interest organisations. One possible explanation for these changes, derived from our earlier research, is that once EU ETS reform was considered to be ‘done and dusted’, a major problem which had been absorbing the time and energy of public policy makers, private actors and third sector organisations alike, attention could be refocused on the thorny issue of targets.
Renewable energy communities’ deployment in Europe: What role for the Covenant of Mayors?
In 2008, the European Commission launched the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which was redynamised in 2015 by the Juncker Commission. It aims to share a vision for a sustainable future and call to deliver concrete and long term measures at the local level. It is presented as a “unique bottom-up movement”, calling civil society and other stakeholders to become “active players in the energy transition […] by getting involved in community action”. This Covenant represents an evidence that the European Commission now looks at European people as actors of the energy transition and not solely as passive energy consumers.
The current EU energy governance system seems to evolve towards a system that witnesses a multiplication of interactions between a growing range of actors, namely non-state actors such as renewable energy communities. I argue that the Covenant of Mayors can be taken as an evidence of this trend in which the role of the EU is to ‘orchestrate’ nonstate actions by strategically deploying a wide range of measures to steer nonstate initiatives towards public goals.
This paper seeks to analyze how the Covenant of Mayors supports the deployment of renewable energy communities and how features of polycentric governance and orchestration are being concretized through this EU measure. Ultimately, this analysis will allow for a reflection on the evolution, the resilience and the future of EU energy policy and governance.
The Europeanization of Portuguese Renewable Energy Policy: Opportunities and Constraints of the Transformation of Energy Systems in the EU and its Member States
In the second half of the 2010s, the transformation of the energy systems of the European Union (EU) and its member states towards a greater incorporation of renewable energy sources (RES) has come to a crossroads. While the 1990s and most of the 2000s witnessed a rapid increase in policies and programs aimed to promote the production and consumption of energy from RES, since the late 2000s, the speed of transformation has slowed down and instances of policy dismantling are becoming more frequent.
The Portuguese policy for promoting the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources is a case in point. Due to its high level of energy dependency, Portugal adopted its first renewable electricity support schemes already in the late 1980s. From then onwards it became a European forerunner in the development of renewable energy sources, a development that was backed by the EU’s renewable energy directives and targets as well as financial support from the EU. With the global financial crisis, a partial weakening of Portuguese renewable energy policy can be observed. Against this backdrop, we ask: How did Europeanization shape the development of Portuguese renewable electricity policy? Which are the main factors – domestic or international – that enable EU member states to comply with (or even go beyond) ambitious goals for a European climate and energy transition? And which are the main restrictions to such a policy?
We develop an analytical framework that emphasizes the interactive nature of EU policy making, characterized by an interdependent mix of uploading, downloading and cross-loading of policies and programs between the European and the national levels. By applying this framework to the Portuguese case, we discuss the multi-level interactions of renewable energy policy in Europe that are decisive for the prospects of a European climate and energy transition.
Energy Policy at the Crossroads: Stuck between Energy Security and Integration of the Internal Energy Market
Turbulences in the energy field seem to threaten the very foundations of EU energy policy: increasing gas prices, changes in liquefied natural gas (LNG) markets and concerns over Nord Stream 2 (NS2) are only some of the issues shaking the current energy scenario. This paper looks at the tension around NS2 to investigate the extent to which the imperatives of energy security are challenging the EU internal energy market and, in turn, the future of EU energy policy. NS2 might double the amount of energy that transits from Russia to Germany, reducing the importance of Ukraine as transit country. Concerned about the impact of the project on the EU internal energy market in terms of diversification of sources, routes and suppliers and having failed to obtain a mandate to negotiate a specific regime with Russia, in November 2017 the European Commission issued a proposal aimed to revise existing EU energy rules – namely Directive 2009/73/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas– by making them applicable to all existing and future gas pipelines between the EU and third countries. The proposal raised diverging opinions across the member states triggering a heated debate within the Council. Looking at the difficulties the EU is facing in trying to reconcile energy security with integration of the internal energy market, the paper suggests that the outcome of this legislative process is likely to have a huge impact on the future of EU energy policies depending on whether the EU will prioritize the former or the latter.