On 17 December, the new President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and his right-hand man, Frans Timmermans, presented the Commission's 2015 Work Programme to the European Parliament. One of the Programme's four main priorities is the introduction of an Energy Union and climate change policy. It looks like 2015 is going to be a busy year.
The European Union would like to make its energy policy more consistent and establish common strategies with the Member States in order to deal with the energy challenges of the future. It has therefore defined a Strategic Framework for the Energy Union, which is based on five 'pillars': security of supply, solidarity and trust, completing the internal market through the use of infrastructure, reducing demand, decarbonising the energy mix, and research and innovation.
The European Commission is to include these five pillars in a communication and use them to establish a structured package of legislative and political projects that are to be placed on the agenda.
The Commissioners for energy and the environment have put forward a number of initiatives, including:
The introduction of a new system of governance for the application of the 2020-2030 framework for climate and energy policy guidelines defined by the European Council
A review of the Emissions Trading System
New measures to guarantee the security of gas supplies
Monitoring the progress of a 10% interconnection target, to be met by 2020, and the accelerated development of infrastructure (projects of common interest)
Monitoring 2020 energy efficiency targets for renewable energy sources
A proposal on the implementation of smart meters
It is worth noting that President Juncker's investment plan* could be an opportunity to obtain financial support for infrastructure projects or innovative lines of business.
Finally, Europe would like to take the lead with regards to the 21st international climate change conference (COP 21), which will be held in Paris from 30 November to 15 December 2015. It has called on Member States not to lower their goals and to commit themselves to Europe's climate policy. It will do everything possible to reach a global agreement on the means to keep the rise in global temperature below 2°C by 2100.
* The plan put forward by Jean-Claude Juncker aims to unlock €315 billion of private investment over the next three years (2015-2017). A European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) should be created by mid March 2015.