Fit For 55: ITRE/ENVI Committee Meetings 03/03/2022

by Maria Constantinescu

On the 3rd of March various important meetings took place for tackling key topics such as the Energy Efficiency Directive, and the proposal for Energy from renewable sources Directive

1. Energy efficiency

Highlights from the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE)

One of the key points of discussion for the meeting was the exchange of views with Ms. Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy, on the energy related aspects of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Ms. Kadri Simson highlighted the key aspects the Commission is currently (and urgently) working on, especially in light of the current crisis. She touched upon the following points:

  1. The Ukrainian power grid must be synchronized with continental Europe.
  2. It is utterly important to diversify the energy sources and the gas storage capacity by the time next winter begins.
  3. Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) will need to play a key role in replacing gas, but the Commission is going beyond to identify additional possible supplies.
  4. Overall, there are the following challenges: security of supply, affordable energy for the European citizens and climate change.
  5. As such, the Union must deliver on resilience, diversification and representation.

In almost consenting interventions, the shadow rapporteurs asked the Commission to answer the following questions:

  • What is the EU’s storage capacity and how can we increase it rapidly before the next winter?
  • Where do we stand at EU level in terms of Hydrogen infrastructure?
  • How solid are the impact assessments of the EU Green Deal regarding the import of oil & gas from Russia?
  • What is the possible timeline to become fully independent from Russian gas and what are the deliverables of the Commission?
  • What are the budgetary impacts from this situation and will this be reflected in the emergency aid?
  • How is the EU going to tackle the partnership with Gazprom?

Overall, the Commission responded that it will soon launch a communication report trying to answer most of the questions reflected above, but reassured the MEPs that there is already an action-plan in place, both for the short-term and the long-term. Additionally, the main objective for the Commission and the European Parliament is to, indeed, become independent from Russia in terms of energy. In short, the Commission will scout the partnerships that can help diversify the energy sources and that we already have LNG structures in place that we can leverage on at EU level. 

Moreover, the Commission fully supports the development of the hydrogen infrastructure in Europe and that we need to build our capacity storage and fill it in by at least 90% before the next winter. 

Highlights from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)

On the meeting’s agenda of ENVI was the discussion of the proposal on energy efficiency brought-in by Ms. Eleonora Evi from the Greens Party. She stated that the ambition of energy efficiency should be increased to 45% by 2030 at EU level and that national contributions should be binding. At the same time, she proposed mandatory energy audits for energy efficiency and a clear path towards renewable energy sources permanently. 

In response to Ms. Evi’s proposal, the shadow rapporteurs argued that the transition towards energy efficiency is not going to be cheap and that it is important to meet this challenge by increasing the funds in energy efficiency (Ms. Benova, S&D); or that overall, we should reduce our energy consumption and energy waste (Ms. Bentele, EPP & Mr. Stefanuta, Renew Europe); or, most importantly, energy efficiency cannot be seen without energy independence from Russian oil and gas (Ms. Dace, ERC).

The amendments to the proposal will be sent by the 8th of March by the MEPs and the final vote is expected to take place on the 28th of April.

2. Energy from renewable sources

Highlights from the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE)

Mr. Markus Piper presented his draft proposal for amending Directive (EU) 2018/2001, Regulation (EU) 2018/1999, and Directive 98/70/EC regarding the promotion of energy from renewable sources.

During his speech, Mr. Piper criticized the Commission for not taking a proactive role in previously tackling the independence of energy sources at EU level, and that the Russian attack was and still is a wake up call in this sense.

He focused on the following key points in regards to his proposal:

  1. The EU should tap into the potential of a single market for energy and to look at the possibility for cross-border projects.
  2. The EU should focus on the expansion of renewable energy sources and reduce the length of national procedures for approval without affecting biodiversity.
  3. Given that more than 50% of the hydrogen has to be imported – the EU can diversify the energy imports and link them to development aid.
  4. The EU should become more modern and opt for the digital generation of origin and benchmarks that are binding.
  5. All the potential of renewable efficiency should be explored.
  6. Low-carbon should have a section dedicated during the transition period. 

In response to Mr. Piper’s proposal, the shadow rapporteurs discussed the importance of introducing an indicative sub-target for innovative renewable energy systems (RES) technologies. At the same time, the rapporteurs urged for the inclusion in the proposal of regional cooperation and an even higher ambition to meet the goals: 40% or higher by 2030 in case of renewable energy.

To conclude, the European Commission gave its opinion via Ms. Catharina Sikow-Magny, who highlighted some areas of concern to be addressed within the draft proposal:

  1. The concept of low-carbon hydrogen should not be included in the proposal, as it does not fit the scope of the Directive.
  2. On the topic of hydrogen: to provide regulatory clarity and certainty for investors and to make sure that the increased demand for hydrogen will not increase the demand for gas – the hydrogen must be produced from renewable sources.

At the time of writing this article, the proposal is yet to receive its final amendments from all the MEPs, with the deadline approaching the 15th of March.

All EP meetings can be watched at:

Categories EU - Current Affairs

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