Speech by Vice-President Šefčovič, in charge of Energy Union, in Brussels
· I am proud to stand here today, to present this package with one simple message – the Energy Union has become reality.
· This is what stands out in the fourth State of the Energy Union report.
· Back in 2015, it was a political strategy. We promised to provide Europe with energy that is secure, that is sustainable, competitive as well as affordable.
· But we have achieved much more.
· Since then, we have kick-started a deep transformation and modernisation of our economies – I often refer to it as the deepest transformation since the second industrial revolution. I am talking about decentralised and decarbonised energy production and consumption, about infrastructure deployment, and about smart technologies.
· All sectors of the economy have contributed forcefully. Therefore, I would like to thank the entire Energy Union project team for their vital collective work.
· This European Commission has tabled all proposals needed for us to deliver on our strategy. They have also been adopted – so Europe starts the next decade under new, and most advanced energy and climate rules in the world.
· At the same time, the EU has shown that we don't need to choose between economic growth and climate. Because it is possible to grow our economy [by 58%] and cut emissions at the same time [by 22%].
· Similarly, we don't have to choose between energy security and the clean energy transition. Because an increasing uptake of renewables and efficiency reduced not only emissions but also our dependence on external suppliers of fossil fuels.
· Let me walk you through a couple of tangible achievements set out in this State of the Energy Union.
· In the field of energy security – present in our minds at the very start due to previous crises – we have progressed towards a more integrated European energy market and towards ending the energy islands.
· Through our Projects of Common Interest, we are building strong and well-connected networks across Europe. So far over 30 PCIs have been implemented and some 75 PCIs should be in place by 2022. Since 2014, the EU's financial support amounted to EUR 3.2 bn from the Connecting Europe Facility and to EUR 1.3 bn from the European Fund for Strategic Investment.
· By 2022, all Member States but two should have access to three sources of gas and 23 Member States should have access to LNG.
· On the clean energy transition front, the Energy Union has enabled us to step up our 2030 targets for renewable energy [at least 32% of our energy demand] as well as for energy efficiency [at least 32.5% of energy savings].
· We have also adopted ambitious policies on clean mobility, including emission reductions for new cars and vans and for the first time also for lorries.
· These policies will go a long way in transforming our economies, even after 2030. For instance, green jobs in the EU already amount to four million, while there are clear opportunities to create more.
· But we did not stop there and in fact, we are already looking at 2050, too.
· The EU is the first major economy that has already presented its vision for transformation involving all sectors that could lead to climate neutrality by 2050.
· This vision is under discussion in all Member States and I am confident we will find a swift agreement so it can become the EU's strategy for climate neutrality.
· However, the Energy Union is not only about action at the European and national level. Many European cities are looking for ways to be frontrunners in modern solutions for sustainable energy, cleaner air or mobility.
· To enable this, the Commission is working in partnership with cities through the European Covenant of Mayors, which today gathers 8.800 EU cities, home to almost every second European. Moreover, we co-founded the Global Covenant of Mayors,which helps cities learn from one another worldwide to address the global challenge of climate change and access to energy.
· However, the Energy Union is not a one-off project but a living structure.
· Therefore, I would like to conclude on three major challenges that we have addressed under this Commission, but that are bound to stay with us.
· Firstly, the Energy Union implementation at national level. This concerns the transposition of the legislative framework, but more widely the National Energy and Climate Plans.
· I am very happy that all Member States have submitted their draft plans. They will be key to ensuring that the EU as a whole and every Member State reach the agreed targets. And as I often stress, I see these plans as an essential political signal to investors.
· The Commission will prepare its recommendations by 30 June in order to allow for Member States' final adoption by the end of this year.
· The second challenge is about our industrial leadership. With the EU Battery Alliance we have set an example of a 21st century industrial policy.
· Our objective is to become frontrunners in the global race for the next generation of batteries – green batteries produced in Europe with sustainable sourcing, the lowest carbon footprint and the highest level of performance.
· This is key to competitiveness of European automotive industry and key to the decarbonisation of our mobility and energy systems.
· We want to seize the full potential of a European market that – thanks to the forecasted surge in EVs – could be worth EUR 250 bn per year from 2025 onwards.
· I can tell you this is no distant dream. Our report on batteries shows that we have made significant progress in record time since May last year.
· We have clearly prioritised our research and innovation – notably Horizon 2020 – on the next technologies of battery. More than EUR 1.34 bn have been allocated for R&I in the field of storage, while additional EUR 114 million are envisaged for this year and EUR 132 million for next year.
· It's not only about making research with our money. We also want to succeed in making money – that is creating new markets – with our research. We have learned from our experience on photovoltaic panels.
· To this end, we have set up new collaborative platforms, involving industry, regions and Member States.
· To give you an example, under the EU Battery Alliance, we are now mobilising a fully-fledged ecosystem of over 260 industrial actors covering all segments of the value chain. New projects and Giga factories are now springing across Europe.
· We have helped set up a smart specialisation partnership with 26 regions in the lead, to carry out joint investment projects with investors in pilot areas.
· And we are also joining forces with the Member States and the EIB to support innovative manufacturing projects across Europe, covering the entire value chain.
· We are therefore facilitating the implementation of Important Projects of Common European Interest to promote cross-border projects in breakthrough innovation. Germany and France are working in an accelerated manner with at least six other Member States to that effect.
· The next EU Battery Summit is scheduled for 30 April.
· The third challenge I want to mention is that of social fairness or the just transition. We have to make sure that no one is left behind in this huge transformation – no Member State, no sector, no region, no community, no worker, no consumer.
· This is key if we want to deter the steady rise of populism or even extremisms that thrive on a feeling of injustice and inequality.
· We are therefore working in partnership with 18 coal regions in eight Member States to support an industrial-driven low-carbon transition, while mitigating its social consequences.
· Similarly, we need to fight energy poverty that still affects around 50 million people across Europe. National Energy and Climate Plans need to take it into account.
· I believe that as this social transformation becomes deeper and faster, we will have to extend and expand these initiatives.
· So to conclude, I am really proud that the Energy Union is a success project of Europe, a project that makes us stronger, that unites and brings positive tangible results to people around Europe.