The European Commission’s political leadership consists of Commissioners from 27 European Union (EU) countries (1). One of these 27 is Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy who started the role in December 2019 and will serve for five years taking her up to 2024. (2)
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission wrote a mission letter to Kadri Simson on 1st December which included a summary of the priorities for the role of Commissioner for Energy. The President began by underlining the crucial importance of access to affordable, reliable, secure and clean energy for all Europeans. “Regional interconnectivity, a better-functioning market for energy, and research and innovation are key to achieving these aims,” the President added.
Reducing emissions: 50% by 2020
The role of Commissioner for Energy is a challenging one as they have to work towards Europe must reducing its emissions further and faster, by at least 50% in time for 2030.(3) In Kadri Simson’s answers to the European Parliament questionnaire, she states that the objective for 2030 is to lower emissions by at least 40%, a point which she goes on to develop in her own words.
“The full implementation of the legislation at stake, such as the Energy Efficiency Directive, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, the Renewables Directive, Effort Sharing Regulation and Emissions Trading System Directive, should result in EU-28 greenhouse gas emission reductions of around 45% by 2030.”(4)
Energy: Safe, secure and sustainable
President Ursula von der Leyen also asked Commissioner Simson to further develop a European energy market that is interconnected, integrated and properly functioning. In the view of the President, “this will help keep prices down for consumers, help increase the use of clean energy and make energy supply more reliable and secure.” (3)
Commissioner Simson believes that well-functioning electricity and gas markets will help the European Commission to deliver a “decarbonised, competitive and innovative energy sector.” This policy objective is very much based on fair competition between energy suppliers across borders, ensuring the integration of renewable energy and empowering consumers. “To deliver greater benefits to consumers, we need to address the missing links in the energy system and the new trends in our markets,” the Commissioner added.(4)
Energy-efficiency is clearly an important aspect of the Commissioner for Energy’s remit. We know that the speedy implementation of energy-efficiency and renewable-energy legislation for the Member States is a key priority for the Commissioner. Europe adheres to the energy-efficiency-first principle and how Europe can improve the energy performance of buildings is a part of this.(3)
When it comes to how Commissioner Simson will ensure that Europe follows the energy-efficiency-first principle across the Board, she explains in her own words how this will be achieved.
“The energy-efficiency-first principle is now enshrined in our energy acquis. We will now have to turn to implementation. The President-elect has indicated with the mission letter that I should ensure Europe follows the energy-efficiency-first principle across the board. The whole energy system will have to contribute to become the first climate-neutral economy and the energy efficiency first principle will be decisive in supporting these efforts.
“In this context, I want to look at how Europe can significantly improve the energy performance of buildings and increase renovation rates. Much stronger renovation rates are key for reducing energy demand and emissions in this sector.”(4)
In closing, it is worth mentioning that there are many more areas entrusted to the role of Commissioner for Energy, including speeding up the deployment of clean energy, reviewing the Energy Taxation Directive and enhancing nuclear safety and safeguards across Europe. The European Commission strongly believes that both “people and regions will help drive the transition to a cleaner and more efficient energy system.” Of course, additional opportunities and challenges not covered in this article will arise up to 2024 and we wish Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy well in her future work.(3)