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The climate and energy policy of the European Union is based on three crucial pillars:
- energy security: security of supply has the highest priority, with attention being paid to sufficient diversification
- competitiveness: importance of energy prices and cost-efficiency, as well as completing the internal energy market
- sustainability: an integrated climate and energy policy contributes to achieving the climate objectives within the Paris Agreement and is in line with the efforts of the EU to reach a new comprehensive climate agreement at the global level.
In line with these three pillars, a new policy framework horizon 2030 was developed, based on the objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent in comparison to 1990. However, the EU decided in late 2020, in line with its commitment to becoming climate-neutral by 2050 and in compliance with European climate law, to raise its intermediary climate objective by 2030 to -55 percent. This led the Commission to present on 14 July 2021 a broad legislative package consisting of 13 proposals. This package aims to bring the existing policy framework in line with the increased ambition and fit within the wider Green Deal context.
According to the Commission's proposals, all sectors of the economy will need to contribute towards achieving this transition and realising the increased ambition. The European Emissions Trading System (ETS) will be enhanced, but also extended to maritime shipping. The ETS system for aviation will be made stricter and a separate ETS for buildings and road transport is envisioned. The CO2 standards for passenger cars and vans are being tightened. Additionally, regarding the agriculture and forestry sectors, national objectives will be imposed on the Member States, as is already the case under the current effort-sharing regulation. The energy objectives – renewable energy and energy-efficiency – will also be increased, and specific sub-objectives are envisioned for other sectors, including for transport.
Objectives for Belgium
Belgium has always constructively supported the above-mentioned European policy pillars of an integrated climate and energy policy. Climate policy on the one hand and energy security and the completion of the internal energy market on the other, should not be seen as mutually exclusive, but instead as complementary.
In order to ensure the coherent and correct monitoring of these policy frameworks, Belgium presented its finalised National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) in late 2019.
Cost-efficiency and fair distribution of efforts among the Member States played a key role for Belgium in the distribution of the objectives for those sectors not covered by the ETS system. Belgium would need to achieve a reduction of 47 percent in these sectors by 2030 under the new proposals from the Commission, which are yet to be adopted by the Council and the Parliament.
The Emissions Trading System (ETS), in which companies must purchase allowances if their emissions exceed the emission allowances allocated to them, will be further structurally reinforced for post-2020 and will remain one of the cornerstones of the EU’s climate policy. A tightened-up framework for carbon leakage, to protect the energy-intensive European industry, remains a sustained point of consideration for Belgium. Furthermore, the promotion of modern low-carbon technologies and innovation remains a focus point, with an increase in the various existing funds to cover this, through the recent proposals for ETS review. Belgium will benefit from this. After 2030, the ETS will continue to play a key role.
Belgium endorses the European ambition of becoming climate-neutral by 2050. With regard to the Green Deal, Belgium shares the existing broad consensus on the sustainable transformation of our society and our economy, as well as the idea that the Green Deal can lead to numerous opportunities and a positive agenda.