EuropeOn welcomes European Parliament votes on Directives for Energy Efficiency and Renewables

On 13 July, the European Parliament’s Committee dealing with energy policy voted on their position on the Commission’s proposals for the reworked Energy Efficiency Directive and Renewable Energy Directive. EuropeOn welcomes the outcome of these votes, as many issues raised by our association have been addressed in the approved reports. This vote came at the end of a tumultuous negotiating process among MEPs strongly influenced by the ongoing energy crisis and looming energy supply shortages.

While the Commission’s proposal, tabled in July 2021, was not over- neither under-ambitious, the EP was poised to raise the proposed targets. Now, with Russia’s invasion and weaponisation of energy supplies, the 2030 headline targets for energy efficiency and renewables have been even further raised as pressure mounts for policymakers to act on the energy crisis.

More specifically, MEPs voted to raise the 2030 target for energy savings to 14.5% compared to a 2020 baseline, after the Commission had already raised its 9% target, proposed in 2021, to 13% in May 2022, following the Russian invasion. On renewables, the 2021 proposed target of 40% of renewables energy in EU consumption by 2030 has been raised to 45% by the Parliament (keeping in mind the EU-27 has reached 22% at the moment).

Clearly, the Ukraine war has spurred EU lawmakers to raise politically difficult objectives that will now have to address both energy security as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

However, for electrical contractors the main sticking point on the road to energy security and/or climate neutrality is the availability of enough professionals with the necessary green and digital skills. Opportunely, EuropeOn’s calls for action on skills and workforce components of clean energy installations have been heard by MEPs. Indeed, the Parliament’s proposals for both Directives feature new provisions to require Member States to further address human capital considerations in their energy and climate planning:

  • both directives would require Member States to carry out a gap assessment between available and needed installation professionals every 2-3 years.
  • both directives also emphasise the need to help SMEs participate in re and up-skilling programmes.
  • the Parliament also calls on the Commission to set up an EU-wide campaign to attract more people in relevant professions and to establish a platform bringing together Member States, social partners, etc. to promote energy efficiency-related professions.

While education and employment policy is really in the hands of Member States, these new provisions will make sure they cannot overlook this question that is key for our sector and for many jobs related to the energy transition. Indeed, thoroughly estimating the gap between available and needed installation professionals and quantifying the recruitment needs will help Member States take appropriate action in terms of career promotion and training facilities.

Alongside skills and workforce provisions, MEPs have also turned their attention to the Primary Energy Factor (PEF), an accounting tool bridging the gap between primary and final energy, to make sure it is based on a methodology that is conducive to the EU’s climate goals.

EuropeOn has been a strong advocate of the need to revise the PEF as it is out of touch with the current reality of the energy sector and serves as a de facto incentive for fossil fuels. MEPs have now pushed for the regular review of this framework to ensure it is better geared towards emissions reductions and phase out of fossil fuels.

While we would have hoped for the review of the PEF to take place a more frequent intervals, this is a good first step that MEPs could take in the legislative process. EuropeOn is currently engaging with the Commission on this issue to ensure the PEF does not stand in the way of electrification or the phase out of fossil fuels.

It should be noted that the aforementioned Directives have not yet completed their legislative journeys. There is still a long way before they are fully adopted and transposed into national laws. First, the texts adopted by the Parliament’s Energy Committee will have to be ratified by the full Parliament during the Plenary session in September. Then, Member States as co-legislators will have chance to weigh in on these texts amend them until they find a compromise with the Parliament.

Read our press release on this vote.