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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Vice-President Šefčovič at the SET Plan 2016 and at the 10th Central European Conference on Energy Union

Bratislava, 1 December 2016

Speech by Vice-President  Šefčovič, in charge of Energy Union, at the opening of the SETPLAN 2016 and at the 10th Central European Energy Conference, in Bratislava

Many thanks Alexander (Duleba) and Dušan (Chrenek).

It's a pleasure to be able to open the Bratislava's SET Plan 2016, which is combined with the 10th annual- Central European Energy Conference.

It comes at a crucial time: just following the adoption of our Energy Union package.

Delivery time !

With this package we will have proposed 90% of what we announced in February last year. This is why I called 2016 the year of delivery. 2017 will be that of implementation.

The package in itself is impressive – it includes both legislative proposals and non-regulatory actions. And dynamic governance to make sure that the Member States plan take ownership of the energy transition (through their energy and climate plans) and that we have a permanent surveillance mechanism in place.

Our ambitions

The "spirit" of this package is that not only will this enable us to reach our climate and energy targets - but that it is fundamentally also a tool to modernise our industrial fabric, to the benefit of our citizens.

So while we aim to accelerate the clean energy transition we are also establishing the foundations of our new economy.

No small feat !

In Paris last year we asserted EU leadership. Thanks to the joint work of the European Commission, the Slovak Presidency of EU Council and the French COP Presidency, we also managed to get the Paris Agreement ratified in record-time.

This Agreement is an important milestone in the shift towards a low carbon economy and will spur the deployment of low-carbon and energy efficient innovative solutions, with tremendous opportunities in global markets.

The package that we adopted on Wednesday should unleash our growth potential. It should create around 900.000 net jobs in Europe, generate a 1% GDP in the next decade, spur investments worth 177 billion euros per year, reinforce the competitiveness of our industry and – last but not least – improve our citizens living and working conditions (in their homes, in their transport, at work etc.).

Cross-sectoral research and innovation

To come up with this comprehensive set of measures, we worked very closely with all Commissioners involved in our so-called Energy Union project team, to make sure that this was not only about energy.

This has enabled us to put innovation at the heart of our policy – transecting energy (looking at renewables, energy efficiency first and consumer needs), transport (advanced biofuels encouraged through a blending mandate, charging points in commercial buildings, cooperative intelligent transport systems), investment in buildings (smart financing for smart buildings), the circular economy (synergies with biomass uses), the manufacturing industry and the digital.

European researchers, innovators and businesses have been leading the global clean energy transition, and we need to continue to do so, to keep industrial value chains in Europe and ensure future growth and high-quality jobs.

Innovation throughout the package

So, let me come back to the gist of what we adopted two days ago:

First, the regulatory framework. Our legislative proposals concern the new market design, renewables, energy efficiency, energy performance of buildings. With these initiatives we are introducing some of the most fundamental changes to our energy system since … it was built !

It's a change of paradigm. We basically want to move from centralised fossil fuel system to a more decentralised, decarbonised, democratised, diversified, digitalised and disruptive model.

We have thus set out bold measures to reach EU binding of 30% for energy efficiency and 27% for renewables by 2020. To fulfil these objectives the regulatory framework is adapted to promote innovation, lead the development of the next generation of renewable technologies and integrate them efficiently and cost-effectively in the system. We focus in particular in a market that rewards flexibility, for generation, demand response and storage.

The EU must lead the development of the next generation of renewable technologies and also integrate them efficiently and cost-effectively into the energy system.

Second, the facilitating measures. The package also includes a number of tangible actions, or "levers", which should boost the clean energy transition immediately (and not only once the legislation is adopted and has entered into force). It will very much contribute to support low-carbon and resource efficient solutions and improve the competitiveness of our industry.

For instance we propose a European Buildings (and construction sector) initiative to unlock an additional EUR 10 billion of public and private funds until 2020 for energy efficiency and renewables in buildings, to help develop a large scale pipeline of bankable projects and to establish energy efficiency platforms in every Member State.

Under the leadership of Commissioner Moedas, we also propose an initiative to "accelerate the clean energy innovation". The starting point of this initiative is that we must act consistently throughout the innovation value chain (from research to deployment). This strategy builds on the integrated SET Plan, but goes one step further in identifying a number of key priorities where concerted action is needed to exploit present opportunities and remove key obstacles: decarbonisation of building stocks, EU leadership in renewables, affordable and integrated storage solutions, e-mobility and urban transport. We also put great emphasis on the need - and means - to move from research to market more quickly and thus raise the EU's global competitiveness in low-carbon and energy efficient technologies. Carlos will say more at the end of the morning, so I will not dwell on it now.

Your contribution

Let me conclude on the SET Plan Community contribution to our Energy Union fifth dimension – the research, innovation and competitiveness agenda.

I can tell you that your joint work is making a huge difference:

I've seen that ambitious R&I targets have been set for low carbon technologies with great potential for cost reductions, performance improvement and large-scale deployment worldwide.

Suffice to mention offshore wind technology cost reduction, on average in Europe, to less than 10 ct€/KWh by 2020 and less than 7ct€/KWh by 2030; or at least 80% of the electricity consume in 80% of the homes in Europe being ICT controllable (ie energy management digital services) by 2030.

I know this did not come out of the blue. These targets and their implementation rely on intense cooperation taking place among European countries, with the research community and the industry.

This bottom-up cooperation among and within Member States is at the core of the Energy Union project. It is indispensable that we continue working together to push ahead with the Energy Union, to help push breakthrough technologies and solutions, to boost regional and international cooperation and Europe´s global position. We already have bottom-up initiatives such as smart specialisation platforms, we have market and entrepreneurial-driven ventures such as the Knowledge and Innovation Communities, we have risk-mitigation instruments in place such as EFSI and Innovfin, we are working with Mayors – through the Covenant – to accelerate the transition at local level, we are taking a leading role in international collaborations such as Mission Innovation. So, there is lot going on.

At the same time, we must do more – and I leave this as foods for thoughts for your discussions: we must work better with the industry to score our goal, we must better use and blend our financial instruments, make them more user-friendly, we must reinforce the links between transport energy and industry, and enhance our access to third country markets.

We have an ambitious programme ahead of us, and one where the research and innovation community plays a defining role.

This Bratislava SET Plan Conference agenda perfectly illustrates our level of ambition.

So keep the good work. And have a great two-days.

Thank you.


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