EU governments at a crossroads – clean or dirty energy?

Energy transition

On 18 December, EU Energy Ministers are expected to reach an agreement on four legislative files under the Clean Energy Package, namely those regarding renewable energy, governance and the internal market for electricity.

Worryingly, the draft documents for the meeting show that they are stubbornly insisting on an outdated, blatantly unambitious position on the renewable energy target and weak rules for helping countries make energy transition. They are also about to allow massive coal subsidies in the EU power market.

Commenting on the draft EU governments’ positions on the four files, which will form the basis for the Ministers’ discussion on 18 December, Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said:

“So far EU governments have ignored the inevitable: that the EU needs to dramatically speed up the energy transition and increase its renewable energy target in line with the Paris Agreement. Energy Ministers face a choice: either they stick to current proposals and allow the era of coal, oil and gas industries indiscriminately polluting our atmosphere and land to continue for another decade. Or they improve them drastically and make headway towards a safer and cleaner economy.”

On renewable energy:

A 27% renewable energy target included in the proposal for EU governments’ position on renewable energy would put the brakes on the energy transition in the EU. It is barely above what would happen if no new policies were put in place and would imply a fivefold decrease of new renewable energy installations in the next decade, compared to the period 2010-2020.

The target should be raised to at least 45% to be consistent with the Paris Agreement. Recently the European Parliament’s Industry Committee has voted in favour of a 35% objective for renewables, sending a strong signal on the need to scale up renewable energy to EU governments.

On governance:

The draft EU governments’ position on the governance of the Energy Union lacks teeth to drive investments in renewables and energy efficiency, putting the delivery of the EU’s 2030 targets for these sectors at risk. It is also not consistent with the long-term objective and review cycle of the Paris Agreement.

Member States must stop dragging their feet and raise the level of ambition of the governance regulation, in line with the position adopted by MEPs last week. The Industry and Environment Committees of the European Parliament have voted in favour of increasing the EU’s long term target to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 the latest and supported robust rules to ensure the delivery of the 2030 energy targets.

On internal market for electricity:

The draft position on the market design opens the door to allowing massive coal subsidies in the new EU power market rules. It eliminates the carbon intensity threshold of 550gCO2 per KWh for existing plants and postpones the introduction of the limit for new plants until 2025. This would make the so-called ‘550 rule’ irrelevant.

This completely waters down the Commission’s original proposal, which wanted all plants operating under capacity mechanisms to also be covered by emission limits. It could cause fifth of all European coal plants have their lifetimes extended from 40 years to 50, or even 60 years at a time when momentum is gathering to close all plants by 2030 at the latest.



Ania Drazkiewicz, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator,, +32 494 525 738


[1] CAN Europe Briefing ‘27% target = putting the brakes on the EU’s renewable energy transition’,

[2] Media/Photo/Film Opportunity: EU at the energy crossroads – Monday 18th December, in front of the Justus-Lipsius Building, Rue de la Loi 175 – exact time to be confirmed

On Monday, 18 December a momentous crossroads will materialise in front of the Council building. Staged by Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, WWF the action will highlight the crunch decisions on clean energy laws facing European governments.

[3] An audio recording of an NGO press briefing ‘Crunch time as EU decides on clean energy laws’ is available here: 

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s largest coalition working on climate and energy issues. With over 140 member organisations in more than 30 European countries – representing over 44 million citizens – CAN Europe works to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable climate and energy policy in Europe.


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