Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Amiens, 22 January 2022

The energy ministers met in Amiens this Saturday, 22 January under the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union and at a time when sharply increasing energy prices are affecting both European citizens and the economies of the Member States. This informal meeting allowed the ministers to make headway in the negotiations on energy prices, energy efficiency and hydrogen.

First working session: energy prices for European consumers

Since September last year, the European energy markets have been grappling with a historic crisis, primarily caused by the surge in fossil fuel prices. While emergency measures have been taken at European and national level to protect consumers, the Union and the Member States must now bolster medium and long-term strategies to guard against situations such as these in the future.

The 27 EU energy ministers, Christian Busoi, the President of the European Parliament’s Committee on Energy, Kadri Simson, the European Commissioner for Energy and Christian Zinglersen, the Director of the European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) discussed targeted revisions of legislation to meet the European Union’s goals, namely the transition to a low-carbon economy and securing the supply of energy for consumers and managing its costs.

Several pillars of action emerged from this first discussion session:
  • Providing all consumers with the means of choosing the supply offer and risk exposure that best suits them, while ensuring they are informed of the relevant risks and opportunities;
  • Facilitating the sharing of decarbonisation dividends with individual consumers and businesses. More specifically, in the case of sharp increases in prices and resulting benefits for certain producers, Member States must be able to recover a portion of these benefits to redistribute it to all consumers.
  • Perfecting the joint optimisation of production means within the Union through more effective short-term markets;
  • Strengthening mutual solidarity in terms of security of supply and examining the best and least costly ways of consolidating future investments in the energy transition, in particular renewable energy, while also ensuring the supply of gas and seeking to optimise the use of European storage capacity

The European Commission and ACER will incorporate these different pillars for reform into their discussions. The report requested from ACER is due to be submitted this April before the Council meeting of the energy ministers in June.

Second working session: energy efficiency

With the proposed revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive published by the Commission on 14 July 2021, the EU must make significant additional efforts to reduce its energy consumption by 2030 to sustainably adhere to the goals set out in the Paris Agreement and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The morning session therefore continued with a discussion on the “energy efficiency first” principle.

The vast majority of the Member States take the view that from now on, this principle must be effectively applied to all public policy of the EU and its Member States, while granting them the minimum flexibility needed to adapt to their various domestic situations.

Another focal point highlighted by the ministers: the yearly energy savings obligation plays a central role in the Directive as it is a major driver of decarbonisation and of reducing the number of homes in energy poverty.

Third working session: hydrogen in Europe

On 11 December 2020, the Council of Ministers adopted conclusions on hydrogen, solidifying the goal of accelerating the development of low-carbon hydrogen.

In 2020, the Commission began significant regulatory changes with the publication of its hydrogen strategy and the revisions of the Regulation on trans-European energy infrastructure, the Directive on renewable energy, published in July 2021, and the “gas package” in December. As the final step of the informal meetings in Amiens, this working lunch gave the energy ministers the opportunity to reiterate their determination to create a sovereign hydrogen value chain in Europe attached to an industrial sector. Many ministers highlighted the risks associated with flows of massive imports, but also the necessity of a flexible regulatory framework for this emerging market.

All of the Member States agree that hydrogen presents an opportunity for decarbonising industrial activity and resource-heavy mobility, and on the need to accelerate the development of European technical solutions, in particular electrolysis.

Source – French EU Presidency

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