MEPs have given a mixed reaction to the European Commission’s proposal to reform the EU’s electricity market.
The commission on Tuesday said the move aims to accelerate a surge in renewables and the phase-out of gas, make consumer bills less dependent on volatile fossil fuel prices.
It also hopes it will “better protect consumers from future price spikes and potential market manipulation, and make the EU’s industry clean and more competitive.”
An EC spokesman said, “The energy crisis spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has underlined the need to quickly adapt the electricity market to better support the green transition and offer energy consumers, both households and businesses, widespread access to affordable renewable and non-fossil electricity.”
The Commission, in a statement, added, “Russia’s energy war against the EU has put an excessive burden on consumers. This proposal will allow consumers and suppliers to benefit from more price stability based on renewable and non-fossil energy technologies.”
In Strasbourg, a solid majority of MEPs voted on the EU Buildings directive (EPBD), the primary piece of legislation regulating buildings across the EU and key in the climate and energy legislative package ‘Fit for 55’ that should operationalise the EU Green Deal.
The vote is a crucial step in the Directive’s revision process and how the EU is responding to its current ‘trilemma’ – a lack of energy security and a cost of living and climate crises.
The proposed reform will now have to be discussed and agreed by the European Parliament and the Council before entering into force.
Reaction was mixed with Left MEPs voicing their “frustration at the Berlaymont’s relentless failure to take action to defend Europeans footing the bill for the continent’s energy crisis, and its refusal to challenge a system delivering vast amounts of cash exclusively to Big Energy corporations.”
Left MEP Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany) said, “Today’s proposal praises the EU electricity market, stating that ‘it has worked well so far’. Has it? Millions of families have seen their livelihoods destroyed while Big Energy companies hit the jackpot”.
“Last July, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen came to the European Parliament to announce that the energy market was not fit for purpose and promised a thorough reform. What the Commission is proposing today is nothing of the sort.”
Tsvetelina Penkova, MEP and S&D negotiator on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, said: “We are aware that bringing better energy performance to residential buildings will not be cheap and, for our group, it is totally unacceptable that such a financial burden be on the shoulders of homeowners.”
“In many member states, people do not rent their apartments but own them, while they have a rather modest income. It is for these people we included provisions that make sure renovation of their residential buildings will get priority funding with EU money. In the current multiannual budget of the EU from 2021 to 2027, it is estimated that around €110bn will be dedicated to building renovations.”
Ciarán Cuffe, Greens/EFA MEP and Rapporteur on the directive, commented, “This is an important step towards lowering energy bills and tackling the root causes of energy poverty. Seven out of ten buildings in the EU are energy inefficient and the number of people at risk of energy poverty is on the rise. By tackling this problem head-on, this directive can decrease energy bills for vulnerable households, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and create high-quality jobs.”
Further comment came from Eva Brardinelli, EU Buildings Policy Expert at the campaign group, CAN Europe, who said, “A stronger framework for mandatory renovations can help lift millions of Europeans out of energy poverty while decarbonising the EU’s inefficient building stock.”
“While this was a strong signal by MEPs today, we need a stronger commitment from Member States to ensure the most vulnerable homes are renovated once the trilogues start in spring.”
“Moreover, we need to see a commitment from both MEPs and member states to cut energy demand and send a strong signal to replace fossil fuel boilers with sustainable, renewable technologies as it is the only way to decarbonise the building stock while enhancing the EU’s energy security and lowering energy costs.
BusinessEurope Director General Markus J. Beyrer stated, “The European Commission’s proposal is a step in the right direction. BusinessEurope welcomes the Commission’s goal of supporting long-term contracting. This allows for more hedging opportunities for companies and reduces the influence of gas price swings on consumer prices. Mitigating the impact of high gas prices is a prerequisite for competitivenes.
“The energy crisis has shown that access to abundant, affordable and clean energy is not a given. The EU needs a future-proof electricity market with clear long-term signals for investments to reach the ambitious European climate targets and at the same time guarantee security of supply. The Commission must do everything to maintain and attract a high-performance, low-carbon industry in Europe.”