European Commission sees progress on Energy Union

14 February 2017

As the European Commission reports on progress made in delivering and implementing the Energy Union, trade body Foratom has highlighted the importance of nuclear energy in achieving the project's objectives.

The Energy Union, launched in February 2015, is a flagship project of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, whose vice president Maroš Šefčovič is in charge of achieving the Energy Union goals. The first report on the State of the Energy Union was published in November 2015.

Presenting the Second State of the Energy Union Report on 1 February, Šefčovič said: "The Energy Union is about more than energy and climate alone; it is about accelerating the fundamental modernisation of Europe's entire economy, making it low carbon, energy and resource efficient, in a socially fair manner." 2016 was the "year of delivery" and 2017 will be the "year of implementation", he added.

The Energy Union has five parts: energy security, solidarity and trust; a fully integrated European energy market; energy efficiency contributing to moderation of demand; decarbonising the economy; and research, innovation and competitiveness. "Progress has been made on all these dimensions," the report said.

Last year, the "vision" of the Energy Union Framework Strategy was "further translated into concrete legislative and non-legislative initiatives," it said. "It is important that the co-legislators work towards adoption of the proposed initiatives without delay and in line with the Joint Declaration of the three institutions on the European Union's legislative priorities for 2017, to allow for a swift energy transition on the ground."

The EU as a whole has continued to make good progress on delivering the Energy Union objectives, particularly on energy and climate targets for 2020. "It has already achieved considerable reductions in energy consumption," it said. "If member states' efforts continue, the European Union is on track to reach its 2020 energy efficiency targets." The decarbonisation of the European economy is also "well under way".

"Just after the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the Commission adopted the Clean Energy package, which sets the regulatory framework for the post-2020 period, but also gives a strong push to the transition towards a cleaner economy," the report says. This package "made it clear the European Union is stepping up its efforts towards phasing out fossil fuel subsidies".

To reach the EU's climate and energy targets for 2030, annual investments of some €379 billion ($400 billion) is required over the 2020-2030 period. "Therefore, work on investments will be intensified in 2017, using all available instruments in a coherent way."

Foratom, the European nuclear trade body, said on 6 February it welcomed the European Commission's acknowledgement of the benefits of nuclear energy (energy security, low-carbon emissions and low prices) in the Second State of the Energy Union Report. The EU's goal of decarbonising the economy by more than 80% by 2050 cannot be achieved without nuclear power, it added.

"In order to ensure that 2017 will be the actual 'year of implementation' as Mr Šefčovič said, Foratom urges the European Commission to publish as soon as possible the final version of the Communication on the Nuclear Illustrative Program (PINC)." This, Foratom said, must take into account the comments of the European Economic and Social Committee, as required under the Euratom Treaty.

Foratom also hopes the Electricity Market Design proposals announced last November can be amended in both the European Parliament and Council "to bring about the introduction of market price signals that will facilitate investment in low-carbon energy sources (both renewables and nuclear) in a technologically neutral way".

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News