The European Union has entered a new and crucial stage in energy policy. After the adoption of legally binding targets to address climate change, energy security and competitiveness, the 27 member states are now turning their attention to the implementation of these targets. However, with an unfinished internal market for gas and electricity and with member states continuing to focus on bilateral energy relationships with supplier countries, the EU is still at the very beginning of a common EU energy policy.
Although the European Union has legislated in the area of energy policy for many years, and evolved out of the European Coal and Steel Community, the concept of introducing a mandatory and comprehensive European energy policy was only approved at the meeting of the European Council on October 27, 2005 in London.
Europe is entering a new energy landscape. Our import dependency is 50% today, and certain to rise. Our hydrocarbon reserves are running down. Energy is becoming more expensive. Our infrastructure needs improving; EUR 1000 billion is needed over the next 20 years to meet expected energy demand and replace ageing infrastructure. And global warming has already made the world 0.6°C hotter. These challenges are common to all of Europe. They require a European response. At the end of 2005, European Heads of State and Government reunited at Hampton Court (United Kingdom) call for a true European Energy Policy. That is why the European Commission published on 8 March 2006 a Green Paper on developing a common, coherent European Energy Policy. If the EU can take a common approach on energy, and articulate it with a common voice, Europe can lead the global energy debate. The Green Paper will help the European Union lay the foundations for secure, competitive and sustainable energy.
Early in 2007 the European Union (EU) proposed a new energy policy as a first resolute step towards becoming a low-energy economy, whilst making the energy we do consume more secure, competitive and sustainable. A common policy is the most effective way to tackle today's energy challenges, which are shared by all Member States. The policy puts energy back at the heart of EU action, the position it occupied when the European venture first got under way with the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC Treaty, 1951) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom Treaty, 1957). The aims of the policy are supported by market-based tools (mainly taxes, subsidies and the CO2 emissions trading scheme), by developing energy technologies (especially technologies for energy efficiency and renewable or low-carbon energy) and by Community financial instruments. As a result of the decision to develop a common energy policy, the first proposals, Energy for a Changing World were published by the European Commission, following a consultation process, on 10 January 2007. Proposed by the European Commission, this new energy policy for Europe aims, through a comprehensive package of measures, to achieve a series of ambitious targets on greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy, as well as to create a true internal market for energy and to strengthen effective regulation.
European leaders signed up in March 2007 to a binding EU-wide target to source 20% of their energy needs from renewables such as biomass, hydro, wind and solar power by 2020. Key proposals include: •A cut of at least 20% in greenhouse gas emissions from all primary energy sources by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels), while pushing for an international agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol aimed at achieving a 30% cut by all developed nations by 2020. •A cut of up to 50% in carbon emissions from primary energy sources by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. •A minimum target of 10% for the use of biofuels by 2020. •That the energy supply and generation activities of energy companies should be 'unbundled' from their distribution networks to further increase...