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, whereas in this context sufficient diversification is also required
  • competitiveness: importance of energy prices and costs, further development of the  internal energy market
  • sustainability: an integrated climate and energy policy contributes to achieving the climate objectives, in line with the efforts of the EU at the global level with a view to reaching a new comprehensive climate agreement.

Consistent with these three axes, the European Union developed a policy framework in 2009, the so-called 2020 package. By the end of 2014, the European Council decided to develop a new policy framework horizon 2030, based on the objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent as compared with 1990. For this purpose, industry - via the European emissions trading scheme ETS - as well as all other sectors such as agriculture, transport and buildings (the so-called non-ETS) will have to make their  contributions. Moreover, a European objective of at least 27 percent of renewable energy by 2030 as well as a non-binding European objective of 27 percent energy efficiency have been set out. Early 2015 this process was complemented by the presentation of the Energy Union.

Objectives for Belgium

Our country has always supported constructively the above axes of an integrated climate and energy policy. For many years now, our country has been playing a leading role in terms of climate policies within the EU.

Achieving the Energy Union can contribute to meeting the long term climate objectives of the European Union. The climate policy on the one hand and energy security and the  enhancement of the internal energy market on the other hand, should not be seen as mutually exclusive, but as perfectly complementary and mutually consistent.

Our country has repeatedly called for the development of new European legislation - e.g. concerning energy efficiency - or the reinforcement of existing European instruments, in the context of which action of the European level is often more cost effective. In combination, these measures seek to guarantee an adequate competition within the European internal market.

These policy frameworks deserve a coherent and correct monitoring by means of a new governance framework, which in the opinion of Belgium should be solid, efficient and preferably non-bureaucratic.

Moreover, Belgium believes that cost efficiency and a fair distribution of efforts among the Member States will have a key role to play when the Commission submits proposals for the distribution of the objectives for the non-ETS sectors – e.g. buildings and transport. 

Also in the future, a robust and structurally reinforced ETS system will be one of the cornerstones of the European climate policy, i.e. the emissions trading system according to which companies are only allowed to emit the quantities they can cover with the emission allowances allocated to them; if they fail to do so, they must buy credits. In addition to stimulating low carbon technologies and innovation, this system will have to provide the appropriate framework  with regard to carbon leakage, in order to protect the European energy intensive industry.

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