The European Economic and Social Committee has been supporting the idea of a European Energy Union from its first inception as a European Energy Community in 2010. The annual State of the Energy Union report is also broadly welcomed by the EESC as a means to keep energy at the top of the political agenda across the European Union and ensure coordinated progress across sectors and Member states. The 2015 version of the State of the Energy Union is a snapshot taken only nine months after the launch of the Energy Union programme, limiting the reports' usefulness to judge progress made towards the Energy Union. However, as is noted in the opinion, the report's publication provides the EESC a welcome opportunity to identify particular aspects in advancing and governing the Energy Union that are of particular importance to Europe's civil society.
The state of the Energy Union – governance and implications for civil society - Related Opinions
The EESC recognizes the importance of a new energy market design for achieving the ambitious climate-related policy goals of the European Union, most notably the expansion of renewable energy. The Committee acknowledges that many of the measures proposed by the European Commission in its Communication, such as the establishment of intraday markets or the removal of market-distorting national regulations, are steps in the right direction. However, the EESC would like the Commission to be more ambitious, in particular in terms of ensuring that energy prices become more transparent and reflect actual generation and external costs, consumers receiving adequate information and resources to become active market participants, and obstacles to market access for emerging local 'prosumers' being identified and removed.
The EESC endorses the Energy Union and considers its implementation urgent – this could lead to making energy the fifth EU freedom. At the same time, the Committee stresses the need for a clearer message a leading vision – on what European citizens and enterprises will gain from the Energy Union. It also underlines that the Commission, when preparing proposals for reviews of energy legislation, as outlined in the roadmap, should avoid inconsistencies and increasing costs but rather try to simplify processes. The Committee recommends that the most urgent priority, notwithstanding the importance of security of supply and the sustainability, should be action on energy costs.
The EU Climate and Energy Framework is based on substantial previous legislation, some of it incompletely transposed and ineffectively implemented. Bringing the Energy Union into being will require further legislation and rigorous implementation of it. A robust governance framework is vital and the most effective type of governance is where agreeing methods for determining and implementing the objective is seen as a joint enterprise involving all stakeholders.