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15.12.

2007 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 305/1

III

(Preparatory Acts)

COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

71st PLENARY SESSION 10 AND 11 OCTOBER 2007

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on ‘The energy package’

(2007/C 305/01)

THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS


— points out that local and regional authorities make a decisive contribution to the success of European
initiatives. European law is implemented at local and regional level; it is down to leaders on the
ground and to the public to act in such a way as to influence energy consumption tangibly and
sustainably;
— believes that energy policy and climate protection policy are closely interrelated and must be coordi-
nated, given that 80 % of CO2 emissions in Europe come from the production of energy. It is there-
fore important that measures proposed for climate policy are taken on board in the field of energy
and vice versa. At the same time, energy policy focused on the environment and on efficiency also
forms part of climate policy;
— supports the Commission's efforts to remove forthwith administrative obstacles, unfair network access
conditions (e.g. discrimination against suppliers of renewable energy) and complicated procedures;
— calls on the Commission to take appropriate measures to prevent market concentration and to encou-
rage the diversity of market participants;
— supports the aim of achieving an energy saving of 20 % in the EU by 2020 through increased energy
efficiency. The Committee would like this target to be binding;
— stresses that energy efficiency should be the centrepiece of European energy policy and be given the
highest priority in the debate;
— doubts that CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) technologies can be considered as a long-term solu-
tion, as they significantly reduce the efficiency of the plant in question and, moreover, are not espe-
cially economically efficient from today's perspective. From a global viewpoint, however, a CCS
strategy could be an interim solution.
C 305/2 EN Official Journal of the European Union 15.12.2007

Reference documents
Communication from the Commission to the European Council and the European Parliament: An Energy
Policy for Europe
COM(2007) 1 final
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: Prospects for the
internal gas and electricity market
COM(2006) 841 final
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: Sustainable power
generation from fossil fuels: aiming for near-zero emissions from coal after 2020
COM(2006) 843 final
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: Biofuels Progress
Report — Report on the progress made in the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels in the Member States of the
European Union
COM(2006) 845 final
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: Priority Interconnection
Plan
COM(2006) 846 final
Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic
and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Towards a European Strategic Energy Technology
Plan
COM(2006) 847 final
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: Renewable Energy
Road Map — Renewable energies in the 21st century: building a more sustainable future
COM(2006) 848 final
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: Green Paper follow-up
action — Report on progress in renewable electricity
COM(2006) 849 final
Rapporteur: Mr Bernd VÖGERLE, Mayor of Gerasdorf bei Wien (AT/PES)

Policy recommendations significant role of local and regional authorities in European


energy policy when implementing the energy package in prac-
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS tice;

Introduction
4. believes that energy policy and climate protection policy
1. stresses the importance of energy in underpinning modern are closely interrelated and must be coordinated, given that 80 %
life. Interruptions to and bottlenecks in supply therefore have of CO2 emissions in Europe come from the production of
wide-ranging effects and cause major economic damage. The energy. It is therefore important that measures proposed for
common European energy policy, and its goals of security of climate policy are taken on board in the field of energy and vice
supply, sustainability and competitiveness, is therefore very versa. At the same time, energy policy focused on the environ-
important to local and regional authorities. Meeting these goals ment and on efficiency also forms part of climate policy;
requires a balanced energy mix;

2. points out that local and regional authorities make a deci-


sive contribution to the success of European initiatives. 5. points out that consumers making informed choices play
European law is implemented at local and regional level; it is a key role in implementing European goals. Consumers should
down to leaders on the ground and to the public to act in such therefore be at the heart of the debate. Socially disadvantaged
a way as to influence energy consumption tangibly and sustain- sections of the population are hit especially hard by any increase
ably; in energy prices. Publicly-funded assistance should therefore be
invested, with sustainability and a coherent climate policy in
3. therefore calls on the responsible European institutions, in mind, in energy efficiency and awareness-raising measures
particular the Commission, to take proper account of the rather than in purely financial support;
15.12.2007 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 305/3

Internal market 15. stresses that energy efficiency should be the centrepiece
of European energy policy and be given the highest priority in
the debate;
6. points out that the expectation that liberalised electricity
and gas markets would lead to lower prices for consumers
and the dissolution of energy supply monopolies has not 16. calls on the relevant European institutions, and above all
been fulfilled in all Member States. Furthermore, believes that the Commission, to ensure that an appropriate framework is
under-investment in power stations and networks, in particular provided in areas such as the following:
an under-investment in renewable and local supplies and
networks, is jeopardising security of supply. If current trends — fuel-efficient vehicles;
continue, supply bottlenecks are expected in the future;
— high standards (in particular a stand-by setting that can be
switched off) and better labelling for (household) appliances;
7. therefore calls on the Commission to create incentives for
producers and network operators to invest in the construction — the lowest possible total energy consumption or the passive
of power plants and upgrading network infrastructure (as was house standard in new buildings;
the case before liberalisation). A possible way into this direction
could be the establishment of local and regional energy produc-
tion plans, drawing on data available at local and regional level; — the internalisation of external costs by means of consistent
cost calculations across the whole life cycle/supply chain of
products and services for public procurement;
8. supports the Commission's efforts to remove forthwith
administrative obstacles, unfair network access conditions — EIB loans for local and regional authorities' energy efficiency
(e.g. discrimination against suppliers of renewable energy) and programmes;
complicated procedures;
— aid for energy efficiency under the block exemption regu-
lation.
9. favours unbundling, where a separation under company
law, supported by a strong regulator is seen as sufficient; 17. points out that many measures are implemented at
regional and local level and contribute to the success of the
European initiative:
10. calls on the Commission to take appropriate measures to
prevent market concentration and to encourage the diversity of — regional development taking into account energy aspects;
market participants (including municipal services);
— incentive programmes for energy efficiency measures
(e.g. building renovation, replacement of obsolete lighting,
11. considers that the upgrading of transnational networks replacement of household appliances);
strengthens the hand of local and regional authorities, for
example when purchasing energy; — incentive programmes for renewable energy sources;

— establishing building standards that go above and beyond


12. rejects the idea of setting up new administrative struc- the buildings directive;
tures such as a European ‘energy regulator’, as national regula-
tors are capable of achieving the objectives proposed by the
Commission and confirmed by the European Council; — spatial planning;

— traffic management (local public passenger transport, cycle


13. calls on the Commission to structure the emissions paths);
trading mechanism in such a way that power stations
would receive only as many certificates under the allocation — parking management, in order to reduce car journeys in
plan as correspond to the production of the planned amount of towns and encourage carpooling and more environmentally-
power and heat in a gas turbine CHP power station. This would friendly cars;
be a clear signal in favour of the objective of boosting the
energy-efficiency of electricity generation; — energy advice for businesses;

— publicity, campaigns, awareness raising (e.g. specific informa-


tion on how to save energy at home, in vehicle usage, etc.);
Energy efficiency
— leading by example (energy saving by public bodies) and
training of in-house staff;
14. supports the aim of achieving an energy saving of 20 %
in the EU by 2020 through increased energy efficiency. The — public procurement to improve the energy efficiency of
Committee would like this target to be binding; goods and services.
C 305/4 EN Official Journal of the European Union 15.12.2007

18. calls for more EU resources, for example under the Biofuels
Intelligent Energy for Europe (IEE) programme, to be made avail-
able for the exchange of best practice at regional and local level;
26. supports the binding target of 10 % of total EU fuel
consumption coming from biofuels by 2020, provided that
production is sustainable;
19. requests the Commission to set the target for energy effi-
ciency on an aggregate level (i.e. energy intensity of the whole
economy). This would give Member States and regions the flex- 27. stresses how important the diversity of energy sources
ibility to achieve the target using a wider range of measures, and types of biomass will be;
including measures aimed at the energy consumption of appara-
tuses and the industrial structure of the (regional) economy;
28. considers it especially important that climate policy
should be seen in an international perspective, and that different
biofuels should be promoted on the basis of their environmental
and climate performance, using a lifecycle approach that takes
Renewable energy sources account of production methods, transport, etc. In addition to
promoting efficient European production, imports from non-EU
countries could be considered of secondary importance. Envir-
onment-friendly and energy efficient production of biofuels
20. supports the binding target of 20 % of total energy should be promoted, regardless of the type of biofuel and that
consumption coming from renewable sources by 2020; of the plants being processed;

29. suggests that promoting the production of biofuels in


21. highlights the socio-economic importance of local third countries runs counter to the aim of reducing dependency
energy sources and their importance to security of supply and on energy imports and creates new kinds of dependency,
efficiency of transmission and suggests that promotion of and therefore stresses that imports from non-EU countries must
renewable energy sources should be appropriate to the respec- be of secondary importance. When importing energy, sustain-
tive geographical, climatic and economic conditions; emphasises ability and energy efficiency must be taken into account from a
in this respect the key role local and regional authorities can life-cycle perspective for different biofuels;
play in promoting and procuring local renewable energy
sources;
30. points out the importance of producing biofuels in a
sustainable manner in order to avoid a loss of biodiversity. It
22. advocates renewable energy targets including the heating must be avoided that large energy crop ‘monocultures’ (concen-
and cooling sector. Combined production of electricity and trated growth of a single crop over wide areas) excessively
heat/cooling has a key role to play here; disrupt the local ecosystem;

31. stresses that a sustainability code must be observed when


23. observes that sustainability must be at the forefront of importing raw materials for biofuels. By imposing relevant
every measure. Countries that invested in biomass at an early requirements on its trading partners, the EU could help support
stage are already meeting a significant proportion of their ecologically and socially just business practices that avoid loss of
energy needs through this source. However, the problem often important habitat. The process of international negotiations and
arises that the demand can no longer be met exclusively by the development of an appropriate regulatory framework should
locally available energy (usually wood) and that biofuels need to commence immediately;
be transported long distances to their destination. When this is
the case, the alternative clearly becomes less sustainable. Thus
there is a need to consider other modes of transport which are
less energy-consuming; The use of coal

24. takes the view that Member States which have only 32. doubts that CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) technolo-
limited possibilities to produce energy from renewable sources gies can be considered as a long-term solution, as they signifi-
should be given the option of achieving their target on renew- cantly reduce the efficiency of the plant in question and, more-
able energy through trade, either within a EU-wide green-energy over, are not especially economically efficient from today's
certificate system, or through bilateral contracts with other perspective. From a global viewpoint, however, a CCS strategy
States which have a more abundant supply of renewable energy. could be an interim solution;
The aim here is to reduce the overall costs of meeting the
targets on renewable energy;
33. Research into and the development of CCS technology
should be stepped up;

25. requests the Commission and the Member States to


make it compulsory to hear the views of local and regional 34. calls for CCS technology, as soon as it is
authorities when drawing up national action plans to promote commercially available, to be taken into account when
renewable energy sources; approving new coal-fired power stations;
15.12.2007 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 305/5

Energy technology The social dimension


35. notes that current efforts in the energy technology sector
are not sufficient. Furthermore, the system is very sluggish, 40. calls on the Commission to step up its efforts to ensure
which means that it often takes decades to implement new tech- that best international energy efficiency practices are used in the
nologies; EU and that European initiatives, together with EU efforts and
best practices are disseminated, including outside the EU;
36. calls for more resources to be devoted to energy tech-
nology under the Research, Technology and Demonstration
Framework Programme and under Intelligent Energy Europe. 41. stresses that the ability of local and regional authorities
The demonstration of new technologies at regional and local to influence the pricing structure of energy is very limited and
level has a particular contribution to make towards raising only exists in a few areas. Opportunities arise where they are
public awareness, as well as raising the appropriate level of skills able to use their own energy resources on a large scale, provided
in the workforce. It is important that support for R & D should that the costs of these are competitive with other energy sources
be available to smaller private commercial players as well as to in a liberalised market. In addition to this, attempts can be
the public sector; made, through awareness-raising measures, to increase public
acceptance of the higher costs resulting from the use of renew-
37. emphasises that the development of cutting-edge tech-
able energy. Ongoing benefit payments (fuel and heating bene-
nology also creates export opportunities. This may lead to the
fits) are to be questioned, as these do not generally encourage
creation of many new jobs;
consumer to change their behaviour. Instead, the Committee
advocates support for energy efficiency measures, which lead
International cooperation
both to lower costs and to an improved quality of life. This
38. feels that only wide-ranging and comprehensive support should include access to energy use information for
cross-border cooperation together with energy policy and consumers (smart meters) and information on area energy use
climate protection agreements to achieve a sustainable environ- for local and regional authorities to target efficiency measures
ment, increased energy efficiency and economical use of energy and support in order to avoid hardship for those on limited
will succeed in both the short and long term, and benefit incomes (fuel poverty);
present and future generations living in and outside of the EU;
39. demands that under no circumstances should technical 42. notes with concern the impact of increased demand for
assistance to third countries be provided in such a way that energy-producing raw materials, which is causing dispropor-
products and production methods that are outdated or banned tionate increases in the price of food. A comprehensive study of
in the EU are exported to non-member countries, whether for the energy market and of the expected demand for raw mate-
payment or not. It is therefore important to ensure that such rials for biofuels is therefore necessary, not least with a view to
criteria apply at all levels (EU, national, regional, local) and to all forecasting the impact on food markets right down to the small
institutions (including the EIB); regional level.

Brussels, 10 October 2007.

The President
of the Committee of the Regions
Michel DELEBARRE