Fit For 55: TRAN/ENVI Committee Meetings 14-16/03/2022 – Part 1

by Jenay Randall

On the 14th and 16th of March various important meetings took place for tackling key topics such as the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation, the Social Climate Fund and the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II)

1. Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation 

Highlights from the Committee on Transportation and Tourism (TRAN)

Rapporteur: Ismail Ertung (S&D)

According to Mr. Ertung, the results of the original AFIR proposal in 2014 have been unfavorable and less successful than expected: 

  • Because the Member States voted against installing more charging stations, now there are only 245,000 charging stations, instead of the planned 677,000; additionally, most are concentrated in the Netherlands, Germany and France. 

Changes to the AFIR Regulation since the 2014 proposal:

  • There is a distinction between light and heavy duty vehicles. 
  • In relation to assessing how many charging stations should be installed for the light duty vehicles, there is distinction between fleet and distance. 
  • There are now specific minimums for the power output of each charging station (150 kw/h)
    • Ertung proposes a doubling in the power minimums for the charging stations
  • There is now a distinction between plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles. 
  • Ertung proposes a minimum number of charging stations (2% of the national vehicle fleet). 

Shadow rapporteur Jens Gieseke (EPP)

Mr. Gieseke expresses uncertainty about Member States’ ability to meet the alternative fuel infrastructure targets. He tends to agree with rapporteur Ertung. 

The EPP highlights the importance of user-friendliness and affordability to consumers. 

Mr. Gieseke makes note of the importance of reducing fossil fuel dependence. 

Shadow rapporteur Elsa Katainen (Renew Europe)

Ms. Katainen proposes an increase in targets for road transport, targeting heavy duty vehicles. 

In addition, she proposes restricting payment methods for charging stations to card-only. 

Thirdly, LNG (liquefied natural gas) is still important for heavy duty transport because relying on bio-energy increases fuel independence. 

Lastly, she states that local and regional governments are responsible for the implementation of these measures. 

Shadow rapporteur Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg (Greens)

Ms. Deparnay-Grunenberg agrees with Mr. Ertung that for light duty vehicles the power output has to be linked to the share of the total fleet. Echoing the view of other MEPs, the payment method at charging stations should be more user-friendly. 

Ms. Deparnay-Grunenberg puts forth the addition of a booking system that offers real-time data on the price and availability of charging stations. 

Ms. Deparnay-Grunenberg reminds that just over 50% of rail is electrified, yet, that is neglected in the proposal. The Green will therefore propose alternatives to diesel-powered trains and active transport modes such as cycling. 

Shadow rapporteur Carlo Fidanza (ECR)

Mr. Fidanza is of the opinion that the AFIR regulation focuses too much on electricity and not enough on technological neutrality. 

He cautions that these changes cannot be the burden of the public sector alone and supports a legal framework that encourages private sector investment. 

Mr. Fidanza is concerned about meeting increasing electricity demands with solely clean energy. 

Shadow rapporteur Vera Tax (S&D)

Ms. Tax’s comments focus on the maritime sector. 

Her concern is to avoid stranded assets and to achieve this, a coordinated approach to match supply and demand is needed. Therefore, LNG should respond to the market as a transitional fuel. Public money should be reserved for hydrogen and ammonia. 

Shadow rapporteur Dominique Riquet (Renew Europe)

Mr. Riquet tends to agree with Mr. Ertung, however, he cautions the over reliance on electricity in both road and maritime and aviation transport. He supports the use of biogas and other alternative energy sources. 

He points out the incompatibilities with the sanctions that the regulation implies and current state of the market. 

Shadow rapporteur Isabella Garcia Muñoz (S&D)

Muñoz tends to agree with the points made by Mr. Ertung. 

Ms. Muñoz highlights that if users and investors are not sure that charging points will be available, they won’t be inclined to buy electric vehicles. 

Shadow rapporteur Jakop Dalunde (Greens)

Mr. Dalunde leads with the importance of breaking the EU’s fossil fuel dependence for climate and geopolitical reasons. 

He posits that electrification is the only viable option on a larger scale. 

In agreement with shadow rapporteur Ms. Muñoz, consumers will also not be encouraged to buy electric vehicles if there are not enough charging stations. 

Shadow rapporteur Elsa Katainen (Renew Europe)

In order to avoid stranded assets, Ms. Katainen emphasizes the importance of having flexible targets for the charging stations in areas where traffic is lower. 

Shadow rapporteur Jutta Paulus (Greens)

Ms. Paulus tends to agree with the rapporteur Mr. Ertung in that even if the share of electric vehicles increases, it serves no end without the availability of charging stations.

2. Renewable Energy Directive (RED II)

Highlights from the Committee on Transportation and Tourism (TRAN)

Rapporteur for the opinion: Barbarba Thaler (EPP)

According to Barbara Thaler, the principal aim of the European Commission’s RED II proposal is to increase the share of renewable energy from 32% to 40% by 2030. To achieve this, Ms. Thaler emphasizes a broad and holistic approach guided by the principle that renewable energy is only sustainable if it is reliable and affordable. 

Thaler’s response to the new proposals in the RED II directive 

The revisions to the original RED directive point out the possible dangers of advanced biofuels. In relation to synthetic fuels, in particular hydrogen production, Thaler remarks that although hydrogen is theoretically unlimited in supply and therefore has high energy savings potential, it is costly and implies a complex infrastructure. 

Lastly, Thaler cautions the introduction of transport sub-targets because that would lead to investment leaking, in turn harming research and innovation; instead of complying, manufacturers would simply opt for cheaper fuels from Asia or South America.

Shadow rapporteur Petar Vitanov (S&D)

Mr. Petar does not see the need to change the overall architecture of the proposal, however, does not agree to the deletion of certain amendments because they allow Member States to be more lax about meeting renewable energy targets. 

Shadow rapporteur Pierre Karleskind (Renew Europe)

While Mr. Karleskind broadly agrees with the RED II proposals; he lays out three points of concern. 

  1. The introduction of low-carbon fuel into the directive: Mr. Karleskind highlights that there is still uncertainty on whether low-carbon fuel should be included. 
  2. Research and Innovation: The opinion of the Renew Group is that research and innovation are important to reach renewable energy targets. 
  3. Aviation and Maritime Transport: These industries are more difficult to decarbonize than land transport, therefore, it is important to emphasize the specificity. 
    1. He highlights the importance of including wind power and encouraging the development of e-fuels in the sector. 

Shadow rapporteur Ciarán Cuffe (Greens)

Mr. Cuffe expresses his disappointment in the inclusion of low-carbon fuels in the RED II directive. He is of the opinion that market-driven policy instruments like technological neutrality will not solve the climate crisis– it delays action and raises costs to consumers and businesses. 

According to Mr. Cuffe, low- carbon and biofuels are self-defeating because it is a one-size-fits-all approach. These alternative fuel approaches still involve the usage of fossil fuels because Europe will have to continue to import feedstocks. 

What needs to change in the RED II proposal?

According to Mr. Cuffe, the proposal should increase support for technologies that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. 

He mentions the limits of Europe’s land mass to produce the sufficient amount of biofuels needed in the transport sector. 

He proposes that Renewable Fuels of Non-Biological Origins (RNFBOs) only be used in the maritime and aviation sector and the promotion of electrification of road transport. 

Shadow rapporteur Dorien Rookmaker (ECR)

ECR is of the opinion that the need for more rules and regulations should not lead policy-makers to neglect the practicality of the proposals and calls for a holistic impact assessment. 

ECR is in favor of minimizing the administrative burden and more realistic objectives for the maritime sector, bearing in mind that the sector took a hit during COVID. 

Ms. Rookmaker concludes with the question, “Who is going to pay for it?”

Shadow rapporteur João Pimenta Lopes (The European Left)

Mr. Lopes leads with the importance of the availability of affordable energy which rests on two pillars: climate change and energy sovereignty. 

According to Mr. Lopes, the public sector should take the lead on these initiatives. 

He proposes the following amendments:

  • The production and distribution of energy needs to be subject to planning with controls over final prices that the market cannot guarantee, especially in the face of inflation and speculation.
  • Transport needs to be run in the public domain in order to enable public transport systems based on local energy. 

Shadow rapporteur Elsa Katainen (Renew Europe)

Ms. Katainen highlights the importance of opening bottlenecks for clean energy prices. Her proposal is based on three principles. 

  1. Cascading principle should not be included in the RED II because it is beyond the scope of the directive. 
  2. All carbon neutral technologies should be exploited, not just renewables. The addition of low-carbon fuels is therefore welcome. 
  3. All biofuels need to be accounted for and new innovations will be welcomed. 

Shadow rapporteur Jutta Paulus (Greens)

Ms. Paulus expressed her concern with expanding biofuel production because photosynthesis is less efficient than wind and solar. Biofuels should be reserved for use in sectors that are much more difficult to electrify, such as those of maritime and aviation.

Wind and solar are the cheapest renewable energy sources in Europe, but they are volatile. She believes that wind power needs to be more fervently promoted but that it is within the scope of ReFuel EU Maritime and not the RED II.

Energy security is also a pertinent question; for instance, Putin has already threatened to cut off natural gas supply.

Regarding e-mobility, Ms. Paulus points out that there needs to be less cars on the road overall and the remaining ones should be electrified. 

Shadow rapporteur J-C. Oetjen (Renew Europe)

Mr. Oetjen sets out three main points. 

  1. Alternative fuel initiatives and the RED II directive are linked so it is important to discuss where the energy will come from. 
    • Feedstocks are key for decarbonizing the transport sector. 
  2. The additionality principle should be abolished because it hampers efforts to decarbonize the transport sector. 
  3. Low-carbon fuels have carbon emission-reduction potential in the short-term, however, it is not a long-term solution. 

References: All EP meetings can be watched at:

Categories EU - Current Affairs

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