Commission launches ‘summer package’ of energy reforms

Publish date: July 16, 2015

As part of the EU’s Energy Union Strategy, on 15 July 2015 the Commission presented four key documents, comprising the so-called ‘Summer Package’: (1) a new deal for energy consumers, (2) a public consultation on the redesign of the European electricity market, (3) an updated energy efficiency labelling and (4) a revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

The Energy Union strategy was launched as one of the political priorities of the Juncker Commission in February 2015. In the past months Vice-President Šefčovič has been on an “Energy Union tour”, presenting the strategy to Member State governments, industry and civil society. Presenting the summer package today, Šefčovič said it aims to address some of the issues raised during the tour and sets a path to delivering energy security and deep decarbonisation.

For a run-through of the proposal for a revision of the ETS, see ETS reform: Steps taken toward an Energy Union.

Consultation on new energy market design

The Energy Union Strategy is designed to, among other things, help deliver the EU’s 2030 climate and energy targets. The current energy market design, built for centralised fossil generation, is not able to meet the demands of ever increasing low-carbon power and flexibility. The Commission expects to see the share of electricity produced by renewables grow from 25% today to 50% in 2030.

Climate and Energy Commissioner Arias Cañete said the proposal for a new energy system design “will put us on path to an energy market that is fit for the future.”

The Commission is therefore launching a public consultation on how to deliver benefits from new technology, facilitate investments in renewables and low carbon generation, and recognise the interdependence of Member States when it comes to energy security. Read more here.

Bellona is pleased to see inclusion of the important role of energy storage.

The Commission has, however, come under immediate criticism for failing to address state aid and subsidies to fossil and nuclear power, considering their distorting effects on the market.

We need to see clear action from the Commission mandating the withdrawal of coal subsidies. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology should be a strict pre-requisite for any form of continued support to coal generation” – said Jonas Helseth, Director at Bellona Europa, expressing disappointment at the recent news that France may extend its coal subsidies despite contrary commitments made earlier this year.

Energy Efficiency

“Efficiency first” has become a mantra (and rap) of the Energy Union discussion and is a central principle of the strategy. But since energy efficiency was introduced, labelling has become less efficient. The Commission now proposes a return to a coherent way of informing consumers of the efficiency of products like fridges and TVs, proposing a return to the simpler, “original A to G energy label scale”.

The Commission also proposes a new digital database of energy efficient products, to address the fact that an estimated 10% of envisaged energy savings are lost to non-compliance.

Initial reactions to the summer package appear to indicate that this is the only proposal met with general satisfaction, partly as it proposes concrete measures. Read more here.

Empowering energy consumers

The Commission’s Communication on delivering a new deal for energy consumers, aims to empower and give consumers the freedom to generate and consume their own energy under fair conditions. A large part of this will come through being better informed, through clearer billing and advertising rules, price comparisons and greater bargaining power.

Green MEP Claude Turmes has, however, commented that “the text fails to come up with clear mechanisms to enforce their right to self-generation.”

Next steps

Following a public consultation on electricity market design, the Commission will prepare legislative proposals in the second half of 2016. Possible amendments to the internal market legislation, Renewables Directive, Energy Efficiency Directive and Infrastructure Regulation could be foreseen.