Early on the morning of June 20, negotiators from the European Commission, the Parliament and the Council reached an ambitious political agreement on the governance of the Energy Union, a day after reaching a new set of rules for improving energy efficiency in Europe.

“The agreement reached this morning (June 20) allows the EU to have, for the first time, a permanent and integrated structure for building its future and energy and climate policy planning,” Romanian Adina-Ioana Vălean, the chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, told New Europe on June 20. “It creates a unique opportunity for Europe, its Member States, and private actors to see how their commitments and pledges are interlinked and how they are contributing to fulfilling the Union goals. Further on it will allow our Union to precisely and continuously calibrate its energy and climate policy in order to make the transition to a fully sustainable economy a real economic success!”

According to the Commission, the deal equips the EU Member States to govern the Energy Union, realising the European Union’s goals of becoming the world leader on renewables by making energy efficiency its main priority and providing a fair deal for consumers that will set a course for the EU’s long-term strategy for greenhouse gas reduction.

By building both trust and a consensus among the Member States on energy and climate matters, the set of rules will set the best way to achieve the energy transition and the modernisation of the EU economy and industry, the Commission said, adding that governance of the Energy Union will be instrumental in enabling the creation of a political process that is required to deliver a common energy policy for all EU Member States – a policy that 73% of EU citizens want.

The deal reached on June 20 means that four out of the eight legislative proposals in the 2016 Clean Energy for All Europeans package have been agreed by the co-legislators after the agreement of June 19 on Energy Efficiency and the agreements of June 14 and May 14 on the revised Renewable Energy Directive and the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive, the Commission said, The EU Executive added that these four pieces of legislation complement the revision of the Emissions Trading System, the Effort Sharing Regulation, and the Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation that were also adopted earlier this year.

According to the Commission, this regulation will ensure that the objectives of the Energy Union, especially the EU’s 2030 energy and climate targets – reduction of 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, a minimum of 32% renewables in the EU energy mix, and the 32.5 % goal of energy efficiency savings – are achieved by setting out a political process defining how EU countries and the Commission work together, and how individual countries should cooperate to achieve the Energy Union’s goals.

This will be done by making sure that national objectives and policies are coherent with EU goals, while at the same time allowing individual countries flexibility to adapt to national conditions and needs. The regulation will equally promote long-term certainty and predictability for investors, the Commission said, adding that the new rules stress the importance of regional cooperation in the development and implementation of energy and climate policies.

EU countries are also called on to encourage their citizens to participate in the preparation of the plans. This will ensure that the views of citizens and businesses as well as regional and local authorities are heard. This will set a new relationship between European citizens and decision makers so that the governance and its national energy and climate plans all Member States of the EU to build further consensus on the best way to achieve the energy transition and move from a situation of decision by a few to a situation of action by all. This will contribute to have all Member States making the best and most cost-efficient choices and the right investments so that their energy decisions climate-consistent and avoid costly lock-ins.

“With this ambitious agreement on the Energy Union’s governance, we put in place its cornerstone. It will enhance transparency for the benefit of all actors and investors, in particular,” Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said, noting that it will simplify monitoring and reporting of obligations under the Energy Union, prioritising quality over quantity. “And it will help us deliver on promises in the field of energy, climate and beyond. Now I am looking forward to the Member States’ draft energy and climate plans by the end of this year, as they send a strong signal to investors who need clarity and predictability. The Energy Union is on track…going from strength to strength.”

For his part, Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete reminded that after agreeing on renewable energy two weeks ago, and on energy efficiency on June 19, the deal reached on June 20 is another major delivery in our transition to clean energy. “For the first time, we will have an Energy Union Governance, fixed in the European Union rulebook, encompassing all sectors of the energy policy and integrating climate policy in line with the Paris Agreement. When finalised by the Member States in their national plans, this will translate into the right investments to modernise the EU economy and energy systems, creating new jobs, lower energy bills for Europeans and reduce costly energy imports to the EU,” Cañete said. “One thing is certain, with the Energy Union governance we have the necessary stepping stone for the preparation of Long-Term Strategy to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases that are warming up the planet and changing the climate.”

According to the Commission, one of the main achievements of the agreement on Regulation is calling for each Member State to prepare a national energy and climate plan for the period 2021 to 2030, covering all the five dimension of the Energy Union and taking into account the longer-term perspective. These national plans would be comparable throughout the EU.

Following this political agreement, the text of the Regulation will have to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council.

Environmental organisation WWF hailed the agreement, noting that getting rid of its outdated 80-95% emissions reduction target, and replacing it with a commitment to net zero emissions, is critical for meeting the Paris Agreement goals. “The wording agreed this morning is a clear call on the European Commission to come up with pathways to net zero for 2050 and even well before in its mid-century roadmap, due by March 2019,” Imke Lübbeke, head of Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office said on June 20. “Disappointingly, however, EU decision-makers did not agree on strict rules to ensure the renewables and energy efficiency targets are met,” she added. “The weak rules on enforcing the targets lack teeth. At a time when Europe’s renewables investments are shrinking and others are taking the lead in the global market-place, these anaemic rules are the last thing we need.”