What’s in the EU & international autumn agenda for electrical contractors?

2021 marks the triggering point of a deep reform of the EU climate and energy policy framework. It will keep EU and national decisionmakers busy for the next few years while shaping Europeans’ roadmap towards climate-neutrality and a green and digital transition. The so-called “Fit for 55 Package” is the legislative translation of the EU Green Deal which was central to President Ursula Von der Leyen’s campaign programme back in autumn 2019. Aiming at cutting Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions by 55 before 2030, the package revises many legislations such as the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Directives and introduces new legislations.

It is no wonder that the Fit for 55 Package should be of primary interest to electrical contractors. Indeed, our sector can pride itself on its 1.8 million professionals who actively implement the energy transition, by electrifying new end-uses while installing and integrating renewable energy technologies and energy management devices in buildings, infrastructure and even transport.

On 14 July, EuropeOn and all stakeholders interested in EU policymaking discovered a first set of revisions and legislative proposals released by the European Commission. We analysed it in comparison with our own position paper and will very soon circulate our -positive yet constructive- reaction to the package proposal. For the rest of 2021, EU co-legislators (i.e. the European Parliament and Council) will work on their own positions before entering negotiations with the European Commission in order to reach an agreement on each piece of legislation in 2022. Then, national transposition will be necessary and implementation will probably occur in 2024. It is worth insisting on the fact that we are working now on legislations which will only be applicable as of 2024 at the earliest. EuropeOn therefore calls on policymakers to be ambitious in order not to delay our 2030 and 2050 climate objectives.

In the meantime, EuropeOn and its members will keep on raising awareness on their key issues by engaging with European policymakers. The European electrical contracting sector is well aware that the Fit for 55 Package is a unique opportunity to ensure a successful energy transition while making the Green Deal the EU’s “growth strategy” (in Ms. Von der Leyen’s own words). We are already joining forces with the Electrification Alliance, under the #ElectrifyNow campaign, to demonstrate the benefits of electrification. In particular, we will be vocal during the EU Sustainable Energy Week on 25-29 October (the Commission’s annual energy event in Europe) and at a special event expected in November.

But there is more to come in 2021: the Fit for 55 Package is not limited to the 14 July release. Indeed, the Commission intends to present on 14 December further revisions of the Energy performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and of the Third Energy Package for Gas. EPBD regulates crucial aspects of electrical contractors’ activity, especially when it comes to (deep) renovations, energy management, smart buildings and integrating electro-mobility in the built environment.

This is why EuropeOn is currently fine-tuning the last details of its position on EPBD. It will underline electrical contractors’ priorities such as: investing in the modernisation and safety of electrical systems in buildings; making buildings ready for the e-mobility surge; mainstreaming Building Automation and Control Systems (BACS) in buildings and facilitating data access; and reshaping the Primary Energy Factor to remove inconsistencies and improve energy performance of buildings. Stay tuned for our contribution to the EPBD file!

Climate neutrality debates are not limited to the EU of course. From 31 October to 12 November, the UK will host COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, to discuss how countries around the world can secure net zero by 2050 and keep global warming below +1.5 degrees. Three out of the four key means highlighted by the UK presidency to achieve these targets are directly relevant to electrical contractors’ expertise: accelerating the phase-out of coal; speeding up the switch to electric vehicles; encouraging investment in renewables. EuropeOn’s October newsletter will bring more “food for thought” on COP26.