Climate and energy

In brief

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 contained in the Paris agreement and is in line with the efforts of the EU at the global level to reach a new comprehensive climate agreement.

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 as compared with 1990. For this purpose, industry – via the reformed European Emissions Trading System (ETS) – as well as all other sectors such as agriculture, transport and buildings (the so-called non-ETS) will have to contribute. Proposals from the Clean Energy package were concluded to complete the energy union and a binding renewable energy target of 32 percent for 2030 was set, as well as a binding European energy efficiency headline target of 32.5 percent. As regards management and monitoring, it was agreed within the governance framework to work with National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). In addition, proposals were developed to adapt the electricity market in order to respond to changing trends in electricity production.

However, the European Union is also looking on the longer term. In line with the commitments under the Paris Agreement, the Heads of State and Government decided at the end of 2019, on the basis of an earlier proposal from the Commission, that the European Union should be climate-neutral by 2050. The Green Deal concluded at the end of 2019 aims to put this 2050 objective into practice. This includes among others a proposal for a European climate law that should enshrine this objective in law, and the prospect of a possible increase in the 2030 climate objective (possibly to -50 or -55% emission reduction).

Objectives for Belgium

Our country has always constructively supported the above European 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, our country presented its finalised national energy and climate plan (NECP) at the end of 2019.

Cost efficiency and a fair distribution of efforts among the Member States were key priorities for Belgium with regard to the fair distribution of targets for non-ETS sectors, such as buildings and transport. Our country faces the challenge of achieving a 35 percent reduction in these sectors by 2030.

The Emissions Trading System (ETS),  in which companies must purchase allowances if their emission exceeds the emission allowances allocated to them, was structurally reinforced for the period after 2020 and will remain one of the cornerstones of the EU’s climate policy. The reinforced system is accompanied by an adequate carbon leakage framework in order to protect Europe's energy-intensive industry. Promoting modern low-carbon technologies and innovation remains a priority and several funds were set up to this end under the ETS review. After 2030, the ETS will continue to play a key role.

Our country subscribes to 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.

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