This article is part of New Europe’s: Our World in 2017

Belgium-Brussels – During the year of 2016, energy transition in Europe stopped being a vision, a dream or an abstract concept. It is a reality we are in the midst of building collectively, here in Europe and with our partners around the world. Europe is not a just a player in this global energy transition. Europe is a leader.

In February 2015, the European Commission presented its communication on the Energy Union. Back then we set out a strong vision on how the EU should lead the worldwide clean energy transition. We made it very clear right from the start that Europe has chosen its path, its objectives, its future.

And that future is clean. We reiterated this commitment throughout the process of bringing the Paris Agreement into force and now we are swiftly moving into implementing our vision!

We’re building this Energy Union “house” on stable foundations. Over the past 2 years, we’ve been constructing floor after floor in this project. On 30 November 2016 we added the roof. The “Clean Energy for All Europeans”-package we presented on that day brings fundamental changes, moving us away from centralised fossil-fuel-based systems, which were built some 100 years ago. It is a new transformational paradigm towards de-centralised, clean power production with consumers at the centre-stage.

The Energy Union house is now at a stage its residents can move in. Its residents and owners are all Europeans who can now start benefiting from a modern low-carbon economy.

The “Clean Energy for All Europeans”-package is transformational also in terms of its impact on the economy: it will create up to 900,000 additional jobs across the energy sector. It will generate a 190 billion Euros increase in GDP gains by 2030. It will boost over 170 billion Euros in additional investments across Europe each year.

The novelties of the package include: We are proposing a binding energy efficiency target of 30% at EU level. We are laying out a regulatory framework that will be supporting further renewables development in the EU, spurring innovation, keeping the engineering jobs in Europe. We are ensuring the right of every individual to produce renewable energy, self-consume, store and/or sell it into the grid and earn fair revenue from this. In an unprecedented way, we are empowering energy consumers.

We encourage citizens and communities to take advantage of their new powers such as their right to request a smart meter, electronic billing, and electricity contracts that contain dynamic elements.

We are enticing EU Member States to gradually phase out price regulation in order to encourage competition, innovation and investment.

This is balanced with measures to protect consumers in general and specifically vulnerable groups who are more at risk of energy poverty.

Energy poverty is a growing phenomenon in Europe. Together with the EU Member States we can help millions of Europeans to lower their energy bills.

We are also setting up a robust governance system, with three main objectives: to streamline the existing and scattered planning, reporting and monitoring obligations, making them more coherent and less burdensome; to create more transparency and predictability, also for investors, through National Energy and Climate Plans with a long-term vision; and to ensure that all objectives and targets of the Energy Union are kept under permanent surveillance, and therefore, will be effectively implemented.

In addition, through the “Clean Energy for All Europeans”-package we have also launched a “smart finance for smart buildings” initiative, to encourage public and private investment in energy efficiency and in renewables. For this purpose, in partnership with the European Investment Bank and the EU Member States, we are making 10 billion Euros available for investment in buildings.

These are all big challenges with tremendous impact on our economy, on job creation and growth. And they are at the core of our current actions, as part of the Energy Union project, which I coordinate, bringing together 14 Commissioners and their respective policy fields such as transport, environment, agriculture or competition. 2016 has been a very busy year for the Energy Union. We called it the Year of Delivery.

Early in 2017, we will take stock of progress and set out the course of action for the months ahead with the second State of the Energy Union. It will include country specific observations and guidance to all EU Member States on regional cooperation. We have delivered in 2016.

But work is far from being finished. Now all together we need to implement. Implementation of the Energy Union is the motto for 2017.