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Speech: Introductory remarks to the EU Sustainable Energy Week 2018 by Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete

Met dank overgenomen van M. (Miguel) Arias Cañete, gepubliceerd op dinsdag 5 juni 2018.

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here this morning. Welcome to Brussels. And welcome to this year's EU Sustainable Energy Week. It is already the thirteenth edition organised by the European Commission.

I always find the events around this week very inspiring as it is a chance for policy makers to reach out to our wide ranging stakeholders, innovators and civil society and to take stock of the ongoing clean energy transition. Indeed, I am delighted to see that two such innovators are with us this morning, from solar-powered projects in the air and on the water. And for those of you who are looking for further inspiration, we will start our innovative EU projects Awards Ceremony, immediately after the opening session.

The main theme of this year's event is the Clean Energy Transition. We have a range of speakers who will address different elements of this process.

I would like to look at three aspects of the clean energy transition from a policy perspective:

  • Firstly, the ongoing negotiations of the Clean Energy for all Europeans package; I will update you on where we stand.
  • Secondly, the policy debate on the Long-Term Strategy; now that European Union Leaders and the European Parliament have requested the Commission to come forward with a blueprint for decarbonisation by mid-century. Things are already on the move.
  • And thirdly, you should be aware that the Commission is in the process of outlining its proposals for the future EU budget from 2021 to 2027. In fact, further detailed proposals will be tabled tomorrow and on Thursday.

We are into the 4th year of this Commission and we have tabled almost all of the legislative proposals intended to establish the Energy Union, as outlined at the start of the mandate. There are still important steps to be made to finalise this process.

Let me start then with our ongoing negotiations on the Clean Energy for All Europeans package which puts in place the most advanced regulatory framework to enable Europe to remain frontrunner in the clean energy transition.

The first thing to underline is the good news: the revised Energy Performance in Buildings Directive has already been formally adopted, and the new text will be published in the Official Journal towards the end of this month.

Given that the building sector is the largest single energy consumer in the European Union, and three-quarters of our building stock is energy inefficient, the agreed changes will tap into the huge potential for efficiency gains and accelerate the rate of renovation. As well as reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, the revised rules have substantial potential for creating growth and jobs, especially for Small and Medium Size Enterprises. This is also good news for consumers in terms of increased quality of life, potentially lowers energy bills and reduces energy poverty.

As for the other parts of the package….

Under the Bulgarian Presidency, we are at a crucial moment in the talks on Energy Efficiency, Renewables, and Governance. In the past couple of weeks, the Council and the Parliament, with the active support of the Commission, have been able to move closer on the outstanding issues. We will have final meetings in the next couple of weeks to agree on new rules. Let me say a few words on this.

When agreeing on the final compromise, we must be bold. Our ambition level, for energy efficiency or for renewables, should enable us to achieve our commitments under the Paris Agreements, it should reflect the most recent developments for renewables technologies and it should reflect the message that investing in clean energy transition brings benefits for our economy in terms of growth and jobs, for the competitiveness of our industries and for individual consumers. Our stakeholders' community wants and needs to see ambition, certainty and predictability provided by the regulatory framework. It will give a crucial signal and will help drive the necessary investment in the years to come.

It is also vital that we maintain the coherence of the whole package.

In that sense, I must underline that for the first time we will have an Energy Union Governance, fixed in the European Union regulatory framework, covering all the dimensions of the Energy Union, encompassing all sectors of the energy policy and integrating climate policy.

I am sure that Claude, and also Simona, will want to share their views on this in a minute.

There are of course four other dossiers within the package on Electricity Market Design and on the Regulator ACER. Deputy Minister Stankov, who represents the Council Presidency, may also have a few words to say on the current state of play. Let me just underline that we remain convinced and committed to reach a political agreement on these other dossiers before the end of this year, under the Austrian Presidency of the Council. I am glad that the first trilogue on Electricity Market Design is scheduled already before the end of June. This is a clear signal of the will of all three institutions to do the necessary work on time.

But even before the ink is dry on the Clean Energy package, the Commission has been mandated to look further ahead. And this brings me to the second element in my speech today, the request from the European Council in March which follows also a similar request by the European Parliament to come forward with a proposal for a Strategy for Decarbonisation by the middle of the century.

The purpose of such a document will be to provide a solid foundation for a European Union wide debate and define the options for the long-term strategy.

My aim is to have this ready ahead of the next Conference of the Parties (COP24) in Katowice in December. This will allow the European Union to give a strong lead in the course of discussions in Katowice. And I can confirm that preparatory work is already on-going full speed.

In order to get the widest possible input for this Commission Long-Term Strategy document, we will be launching a public consultation in the next few weeks. This will run until October with a view to getting feedback from stakeholders, from academia, and from all parts of civil society.

As a further contribution to this Strategy, the Commission is organising a major stakeholder conference on 10th and 11th July here in Brussels in order to consider the long-term priorities. The aim is to discuss different aspects that need to be taken into account, such as cost-efficient ways of decarbonisation, role of innovation and finance, the Citizens' perspective, the Cities role, and the international context. A report of the proceedings will feed into our deliberations. I invite you to follow news and check our websites for more details about the event and how to register.

We are also hoping to organise a second event, closer to the end of the consultation period, in another place than Brussels.

As key stakeholders, convinced of the importance of making this transition, I take this opportunity to encourage all of you to participate in this public consultation process and to come to the conference in July. This is your chance to influence the process. Therefore, I am glad that today we have the European Consumers Association represented and a voice of Cities.

That brings me to the third and final point I want to cover: the future European Union budget. At the start of May, the Commission presented its blueprint for European Union spending in the period 2021-2027. It is a budget aimed at achieving a modern, low-carbon economy, which will keep the European Union as the global frontrunner in sustainability. Spending will be increased on the clean energy transition, and climate action will be mainstreamed across all EU programmes, with a target of one quarter of all European Union expenditure contributing to climate objectives.

Last week, we provided more precise details about our proposals for our Structural and Cohesion Funds and the LIFE programme. And then later this week, there will be more concrete proposals relating to European Strategic Investments: on the Connecting Europe Facility which will further consolidate energy infrastructure in Europe but will also open a new window for cross-border renewables projects. We will also have the proposals for the successor of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) - the InvestEU Fund; and further proposal on future Research and Innovation spending, Horizon Europe - to follow on from Horizon 2020.

Before concluding on this, let me underline that the EU budget will represent only a part of the necessary investment for the clean energy transition. Most of this investment will have to come from other public funds and, in particular from private capital. In that sense, I must highlight how this Commission has used European Union money, through the European Fund for Strategic Investments, to leverage private finance for investment. Latest figures show that the financing amount approved under the Infrastructure window of EFSI, for Energy supporting projects, will mobilise an estimated total of 61.5 billion euro. So far, one third of total EFSI investment benefits the energy sector. And this of course will continue in future. I am sure Jonathan Taylor from the European Investment Bank will have more to say on the continuing role of private capital in the clean energy transition shortly.

I would like to stress how important it is to sustain and further deploy our investment efforts at European and national level, while pursuing our common climate goals. Indeed, fiscal discipline remains essential to preserve the investments capacity of the future generations.

Therefore, in September last year, Eurostat published a guidance note enabling energy efficient investments to be accounted off government balance sheet, with investment costs spread over the duration of the contract. To ensure the optimal use of the new rules by the stakeholders, my fellow Commissioner Marianne Thyssen asked Eurostat to elaborate with the European Investment Bank a "Practitioner's Guide on the Statistical Treatment of Energy Performance Contracts" designed specifically for helping procuring authorities and their private partners to establish their Energy Performance Contracts, with a clear overview of the potential impact on government finances. This Guide was published last month.

I will take the opportunity to thank the EIB for our excellent collaboration and I look forward to see the benefits from the new Practitioner's Guide.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to see so many people here at the Sustainable Energy Week. I trust the contacts and exchanges that you have this week will help drive us all forward and help accelerate the clean energy transition.

Thank you



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