The EU’s energy ministers have emphasized the “flexibility” that is needed to achieve the bloc’s energy savings objectives for 2030, calling into question the European Commission’s ambition to prioritize energy efficiency. The ministers met last week in Malta where they put together a vague statement calling for the “necessary flexibility” for the EU’s member states to meet energy efficiency objectives, “whilst at the same time securing a significant level of ambition”. The EU Commission has pledged to put “energy efficiency first” in its plans for an Energy Union, saying that the Paris Agreement on climate change backed up EU plans to curb energy consumption.
In the proposal from last November, the EU Commission set a legally binding objective for EU member states to decrease energy consumption by a third by 2030, an increase from the initial 20% target for 2020, which is currently valid. The EU executive also came up with the requirement to oblige energy firms to revamp their business models by making sure that 1.5% less energy is sold to end customers annually. This could be achieved by selling new services like double-glazing installation, more efficient appliances, and heating systems. “I’m particularly proud of the binding 30% energy efficiency target, as it will reduce our dependency on energy imports, create jobs and cut more emissions,” the EU’s Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete commented.
However, both objectives are now being challenged by the EU’s 28 energy ministers who fear that the economic burden could be significant. Malta, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, is thinking about making the 30% overall energy savings target non-binding in addition to making the 1.5% annual target on end consumers non-binding and lower by 0.1%. The EU ministers are expected to agree on their common position at a meeting of the Energy Council on 26 June. Estonia will take over the EU’s presidency on 1 July and will be in charge of finalizing the agenda.