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I often say that the Energy Union cannot be built in Brussels. We need our Member States to be co-pilots. And the National Energy and Climate Plans are the best way to facilitate this broad, on-the-ground ownership of the ongoing clean energy transition.
This is the first time that all Member States have submitted their draft integrated National Energy and Climate Plans - looking across policies, sectors and even across borders - so that the European Commission can assess them.
That is not a minor thing. The plans - once final - will define the energy and economic landscape of each Member State and Europe as a whole in the next decade, and even beyond.
In practice, the national plans must show Member States´ contribution to the Energy Union objectives, notably their pathway to the European 2030 energy and climate targets, that must add up to at least 32% for renewable energy and at least 32.5% for energy efficiency.
In other words, this is the way of turning the Paris Agreement into tangible actions.
At the same time, the national plans are a unique political signal to businesses, investors and the financial sector.
The plans can provide clarity, predictability and transparency with regard to the national legislations for the next decade and beyond. This, in return, can boost future private investments.
Very importantly, the national plans can also help Member States set direction for the funding under the next MFF 2021-2027.
With the more ambitious targets agreed by the European Parliament and the Member States last year, additional investment of around EUR 260 billion per year is needed to achieve the EU's climate and energy targets by 2030.
This is not a cost, but an opportunity. Ultimately, this entire process will help us modernise the EU's economy in line with our long-term vision of climate neutrality by 2050 - something unprecedented.
Member States have submitted impressive drafts in a relatively short time and no draft is perfect - all of them will require some extra work.
The final ones are due by the end of this year and our recommendations show where more effort is needed - for instance, stronger ambition, more policy details, better-specified investment needs or more work on social fairness.
The Commission will now intensify its technical dialogue with Member States. To give you a few examples.
Firstly, we need to close existing ambition gaps, as the level of national ambitions varies and does not yet add up collectively.
For instance, on the energy efficiency and renewable contributions, some Member States should better exploit their national potential. Others should further support their national targets with more concrete additional policies and measures, even underpinned by funding sources.
These gaps are not insurmountable but it is important that we are clear about them and that we close them.
Secondly, the national plans can help boost competitiveness, by being clearer about research and innovation priorities, investment needs, areas of real competitive advantages and the expected impacts on industrial sectors and value chains.
Finally, the national plans should be mindful of socially just transition, especially when it comes to energy poverty or coal and carbon-intensive regions. It means the public funding for upgrading skills, research, innovation, infrastructure and social protection has to be aligned with such needs.
Let me be clear: today is not about criticism, it is about joining forces and standing ready to support the Member State prepare national plans that are complete, reliable and with adequate level of ambition.
Because the plans as such are not an endpoint. They are a start that can make a real difference for the people on the ground and for Europe on the global stage.
Member States will now spend the next six months finalising the plans. This process will involve the public and all stakeholders. Many Member States, for example Germany that I visited yesterday, have started their public consultations.
I invite everybody to take active part.