EU energy governance Contents

Chapter 3: Towards a new governance framework

Recent developments

70.The recent publication of the State of the Energy Union report, the Commission’s guidance on the preparation of Member State National Energy and Climate Plans, and the individual Member State fact sheets, are all positive developments. It is encouraging to see the Commission taking a broad look at progress towards EU-wide targets and longer term goals and measuring progress against each of the Energy Union dimensions.

71.The Commission’s observation that only one third of Members States have integrated energy and climate plans in place for the period beyond 202062 is striking, and should be remedied through the National Energy and Climate Plans.

72.The November Energy Council conclusions noted the importance of a reliable and transparent governance system to monitor and forecast all energy and climate policy objectives and targets. Disappointingly, the conclusions did not articulate the means by which those objectives and targets are to be met when individual Member State efforts fall short.

The role of regional co-operation

73.Our recent report on regional marine co-operation in the North Sea63 underlined the importance of voluntary co-operation on energy projects at a regional level. The benefits of working together on infrastructure projects such as the North Seas Countries’ Offshore Grid initiative (NSCOGI) are clear, but the concept of regional targets in areas such as renewables or interconnection has not been fully explored. Regional co-operation should be seen as an important feature of a governance framework in its own right, but also as a means of achieving intermediate progress towards longer term goals.

74.The Commission guidance on the preparation of Member State National Energy and Climate Plans states that: “national plans should … from the outset build on regional consultation.”64 We believe that regional co-operation should not just involve cross-border discussions, but should involve regions within Member States such as the devolved administrations in the UK.

75.More recently, the November Energy Council noted that:

“enhanced regional co-operation and consultation on issues such as these [infrastructure development, energy and climate policy objectives], where appropriate, will become a cross-cutting and important aspect of the future governance system of the European Union and needs to be facilitated or incentivised.”65

Achieving a balance

76.The creation of an energy governance framework that can accommodate different political visions will be challenging. It will be difficult to respect national sovereignty while being ambitious to meet the objectives of the Energy Union, including the targets on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. In the short term, progress will probably be limited to areas of current agreement, such as reporting mechanisms, rather than those of current disagreement, such as enforcement mechanisms. If the term ‘binding’ is to have credibility, Member States, including the UK, will have to honour international and EU commitments through their own domestic actions. Moreover, non-binding targets should not be forgotten, such as the indicative 20% energy efficiency target and the aspirational 15% interconnection target.

77.EU financial capabilities should be strategically focused to help ensure that agreed EU targets are met. This could include finance made available through the European Structural and Investment Funds, the European Fund for Strategic Investment or the European Investment Bank. For example, further EU funding is likely to be needed in some Member States, including the UK, if the 15% electricity interconnection target for 2030 is to be met.

78.Looking to the future, types of governance framework could vary with different timescales. For example, a governance framework looking forward to 2030 may demand features that a framework for 2050 may not require. The Carbon Capture and Storage Association emphasised the importance of a long term perspective was important:

“The new governance mechanism should therefore require Member States to develop National Climate and Energy Plans not only in reference to 2030 but also incorporating a 2050 perspective into all applicable reference scenarios. This will increase the credibility of the Plans and encourage Member States to consider how they will decarbonise a broader range of sectors beyond electricity generation.”66

Policy makers should be flexible in approach to timescales but when a target is agreed they should be clear about their obligations.

79.The recent publication of the State of the Energy Union report, the Commission’s guidance on the preparation of Member State National Energy and Climate Plans, and the individual Member State fact sheets, are all positive developments. It is encouraging to see the Commission taking a broad look at EU-wide progress against agreed targets and measuring progress against each of the Energy Union dimensions.

80.We call on the UK Government and other Member States to meet the Commission’s deadline for the preparation of the first National Energy and Climate Plans by 2018.

81.Regional co-operation should be far more prominent in governance discussions. The benefits of communicating and co-operating are clear, and the Commission should require Member States to demonstrate that this has taken place in the preparation of their National Energy and Climate Plans.

82.The Commission should ensure that proposals for a future energy governance framework include legal clarity, a respect for Member State sovereignty, a focus on security of supply, commitment to the consumer, real ambition for decarbonisation and increased regional co-operation.

83.The Commission and Member States should work together on a governance framework that recognises the different timescales that are involved and ensures policy coherence between short and long term targets and objectives.


62 Communication from the Commission: State of the Energy Union 2015, COM (2015) 572

63 European Union Committee, The North Sea under pressure: is regional marine co-operation the answer?, (10th Report, Session 2014–15, HL Paper 137)

64 Communication from the Commission: State of the Energy Union 2015, COM (2015) 572 Annex 2

65 Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council conclusions: The Governance System of the Energy Union, November 2015: http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-14459-2015-INIT/en/pdf [Accessed 3 December 2015]

66 Written Evidence from the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA) (EGV0014)




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