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Brussels, 10 January 2007

An energy policy for Europe: Commission steps up to the energy challenges of the 21st Century

The world today is facing energy and environmental challenge, a challenge that is acute for Europe, and a challenge which is shared by all Member States. This is: how to secure competitive and clean energy for Europe against a backdrop of climate change, escalating global energy demand and future supply uncertainties. If one Member State fails to meet this challenge, other Member States will be affected. If problems arise outside the European Union, they can have an impact on the whole of the EU. This is why Europe needs a strong energy policy. The European Commission' Strategic Energy Review is an important step towards an effective energy policy for Europe.

The point of departure for a European energy policy is threefold: combating climate change, promoting jobs and growth, and limiting the EU's external vulnerability to gas and oil imports.

The mainstay of the new policy is a core energy objective for Europe: that the EU should reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its energy consumption by 20% by 2020. This objective will enable the EU to measure progress in re-directing today's energy economy towards one that will fully meet the challenges of sustainability, competitiveness and security of supply.

The EU target needs to be seen in the context of the need for international action of industrial nations on climate change. When such a commitment exists, the EU will need to do more. The aim should therefore be to increase the target to a 30% reduction by 2020 and 60-80% by 2050.

The concern is not only about climate change, it is also about Europe's security of energy supply, economy and the wellbeing of its citizens. Even without climate change, there is every reason to take the steps proposed by the European Commission. Achieving the objective can limit the EU's growing exposure to increased volatility and prices for oil and gas, bring about a more competitive EU energy market, and stimulate technology and jobs.

It is a huge challenge: in energy specific terms, meeting this overall greenhouse gas target will require the EU to reduce the amount of CO2 from its energy use by at least 20%, and probably more, within the next 13 years. But this will help transform Europe into a highly energy efficient and low CO2 energy economy, able to face with confidence future energy challenges. It will mean the EU taking global leadership in catalysing a new industrial revolution, benefiting the developed and developing world alike, while accelerating the change to low-emission economic growth and dramatically increasing the amount of local, low emission energy produced and used.

To achieve this objective, the Commission also proposes to focus on a number of energy related measures: improving energy efficiency; raising the share of renewable energy in the energy mix, as well as new measures to ensure that the benefits of the internal energy market reach everyone; reinforcing solidarity among Member States, with a more long term vision for energy technology development, a renewed focus on nuclear safety and security, and determined efforts for the EU to "speak with one voice" with its international partners, including energy producers, energy importers and developing countries.

The Review includes a ten-point energy Action Plan with a timetable of measures to put the EU on course to achieve the new strategic objective. A first package of concrete measures is presented with the Action Plan. This includes:

  • a report on the implementation by the Member States of the internal market of gas and electricity as well as the results of an enquiry of the state of competition in these two sectors;
  • a Plan of for Priority Interconnections in the electricity and gas networks of the Member States so that a European grid becomes a reality;
  • proposals to promote sustainable power generation from fossil fuels;
  • a roadmap and other initiatives to promote renewables, notably biofuels for transport;
  • an analysis of the situation of nuclear energy in Europe;
  • a work sheet for a future European Energy Strategic Technology Plan.

The Energy Efficiency Action Plan which the Commission adopted on 19 October 2006 also forms part of the Action Plan. The Commission's Communication "Limiting Climate Change to 2┬░ - Policy Options for the EU and the world for 2020 and beyond" and the Strategic Review complement and reinforce each other.

The Commission will ask the European Council to endorse its proposals at its Spring Summit on 8/9 March 2007. A second Strategic Energy Review in two years' time will report on progress as Heads of State and Government have committed themselves to regularly discuss energy matters.

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