The key message of the opinion is that transforming the energy system towards carbon-free, decentralised and digitalised supply offers enormous opportunities, in particular for structurally weak and rural regions in Europe. The development of renewable energy (RE) can have a major and beneficial impact on employment, and can be configured so as to provide a completely new stimulus for the regional economy. There is therefore potential for mutually reinforcing the positive effects of Europe's energy and cohesion policies. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) finds it regrettable that both the Commission and the Member States have yet to properly recognise this potential, let alone exploit it.
Energy transition in Europe's Regions – Assessing regional economic effects of the transition to a smart and low-carbon energy supply - Related Opinions
The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal for a new market design, a risk preparedness regulation and the new organisation of the energy regulators' cooperation. The Committee highlights that well-functioning electricity markets are a precondition for fulfilling the goals of the Energy Union. For the markets to function well, significant changes in the market design are necessary, particularly due to the increasing use of variable renewable electricity. The EESC appreciates the general approach of the market design package, especially the goals of putting consumers at the heart of the energy market, increasing electricity supply and strengthening regional cooperation.
The EESC takes the view that the general development of distributed prosumer energy should form an important and sustainable part of the European Union’s energy policy. Such an approach would be beneficial and might even be necessary from the point of view of energy security and in light of environmental and social concerns. In particular, the Committee points to the prosumers’ advantages of, among others, lower energy transmission costs, better use of local energy sources, and the economic and social involvement of local communities.
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.