Ms Kadri Simson, Commissioner in charge of Energy at the Energy Council in Brussels
Good afternoon to everyone.
It is a pleasure to be back in front of you. It feels familiar: I have stood on this podium before, during the Estonian Presidency, and now I'm here for the first time as the Commissioner for energy.
Europe is entering an interesting, but also a challenging period. The discussions taking place now and in the coming weeks - at the COP25 in Madrid, in the new European Commission and by the leaders of the Member States - will determine how our union will move forward with its ambitious climate agenda.
I am happy that I had the chance to meet and to communicate with the ministers at length so early into my mandate, as you know it is only my third day in office. And I must say that I am pleased with the discussions we had today.
Next week, this Commission will lay out its plans for a European Green Deal, a strategy to make Europe greener and cleaner while also improving the resilience and competitiveness of our economy. From my perspective, I see my priorities under three pillars that will carry the weight of the energy transition. These are the people, the planet and the partners.
The first pillar is the people. We will not be able to achieve our goal of a climate-neutral Europe, unless we can show the tangible benefits that this creates for our consumers. Everyone should be able to benefit from affordable, secure and clean energy.
To achieve this, I will work towards open, integrated and well-functioning energy markets; I will address energy poverty and focus on energy efficiency not just in buildings but across all policy areas. I will cooperate with the industries to help them lead in clean energy technologies and support European industrial competitiveness.
The Commission is committed to promote a climate transition that is just and leaves no one behind. That's why I am working closely with the Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner Elisa Ferreira to propose a Just Transition Mechanism that will support people and regions in an effective and targeted way.
The second pillar will be to cut emissions further and faster - the energy sector's contribution to the health of our planet. I will attend the COP25 in Madrid next week to add my voice to those of my colleagues in encouraging the rest of the world to address climate change as seriously as the EU is - and in the energy sector in particular.
The President has announced that the Commission will present next year a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions towards 55% in a reasonable way by 2030. Energy will play a key role in this, in particular through more energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Among other avenues, I will examine ways to strengthen the contribution of offshore wind energy and push for further cost-effective decarbonisation by looking at synergies across the different sectors and where clean gases, biogas and hydrogen can make an important contribution. Today's debate on smart sector integration will also feed into this work.
The third pillar is our partners. There is no better test case for our ambition to be a geopolitical Commission than the energy field. The EU accounts for only 9% of the global emissions. If we do not bring our strategic partners with us, our isolated effort will be in vain.
Moreover, energy is one of the most traded commodities for the EU. Thus, we should step up the way we conduct our external energy relations. I intend to develop a green agenda for the Western Balkans and place a greater emphasis on cooperation with Africa, in particular our Southern Neighbourhood.
Achieving ambitious targets is impossible without proper tools. National Energy and Climate Plans allow us to map the way towards our 2030 targets all together.
Today was a good opportunity for me to discuss and remind the Ministers of the need to deliver ambitious NECPs by the end of the year.
I want to thank all those countries who have already increased their ambition; it will be my priority to work closely with others to provide all possible support by the Commission to close the gaps.
In addition to this, I had the opportunity to inform the Council about the external dimensions of energy policy and the state-of-play of the trilateral gas talks.
Finally, I would like to use this moment to also thank our Finnish friends and the minister for stepping in. Hanna, you did a great job! As did all your colleagues and the Minister of Energy, who was very dedicated. I hope you will have a new government before the end of you Presidency. Please give my regards to Katri and thank you for a great job.
I'm also looking forward to working with the incoming Croatian Presidency, we have high expectations for them for the next six months in 2020.
It has been a fruitful day, good discussions and I'm very thankful for this opportunity on my third day in office.