Fit For 55: ITRE Committee Meetings 20-21/04/2022

by Maria Constantinescu

Last week, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) reunited for two consecutive days to discuss some of the most important pieces of legislation, part of the Fit for 55 package  and to continue the dialogue with the Commission on the effects of the war in Ukraine on the EU market and industry.

Regulation on the gas supply (fast track procedure)

One important discussion  of the 20th April meeting considered amending the Regulation (EU) 217/1938 concerning the measures to safeguard the security of gas supply and the Regulation (EC) 715/2009 on conditions for access to natural gas transmission networks.

These regulations were sent on the fast track for amendments and negotiations, signalling urgency in reevaluating  Europe’s gas supply.

Mr. J. Buzek (EPP) leads the negotiations for this fast track legislation, having weekly meetings with shadow rapporteurs and foreseeing an urgent voting schedule for the legislation to be adopted. Among his conclusions so far:

  • Through this particular proposal, the Commission plans to fill in the gas storage supply at EU level up to 80% by November 2022, enough to get through this winter and the next. However,  Mr. Buzek recognizes that the Commission should target 90% rather than 80% storage supply;
  • Ukrainian storage capacity could be used for the purpose of this legislation, especially for the MS without storage capacities; Hence, all energy community contracted parties should implement this legislation in the future;
  • The Commission should urgently define the set of effective measures in case the MS fail systematically to reach the filling target;
  • Priority should be given for setting out a voluntary mechanism for the joint procurement of gas by the MS;
  • Storage facilities should contribute to absorbing price and absorption shocks – those who fuel speculative price crises should control no gas storage in the EU.

In response to Mr. Buzek’s conclusions, Ms. P. Toia (S&D) argued that supply security is the core of this legislation and that a key discussion should focus on cross-border collaboration regarding storage opportunities.

In addition, Mr. K. Groselj from Renew Europe underlined that the Commission should analyze different scenarios by launching ad-hoc impact assessments covering gas storage targets and gas prices impacts within the MS. 

To complement this argument, Madam M. Toussaint from the Greens argued that it is crucial not to rush for filling gas storage with Russian gas. Even further, she argued that it is important to consider lowering EU storage capacity by shifting the perception: decrease the gas consumption overall and enhance the renewables to truly protect the climate. This approach would therefore anticipate the impact of today’s decisions.

The Commission’s view was represented by the Deputy Director General on the Energy Affairs, Mechthild Wörsdörfer, who concluded the following objectives for the legislation:

  1. Security of Supply – 80% gas storage target at EU level  was decided based on an average of the 6 past years, that guarantees security, price stability, and independence from external sources;
  2. There is an urgent need for solidarity between MS that have gas storage: 18 MS have gas storage, while other 9 do not;
  3. This legislation should be considered the base for temporary measures only for this winter and the next one – the idea is to move towards renewables and energy efficiency.

Voting on Fit for 55 legislation pieces

The 20th April meeting foresaw multiple votes for legislation concerning the Fit for 55 package. This procedure covered no opinions; rather focusing solely on the votes of the MEPs who have previously amended the proposals with their comments.  See below an overview of the legislation that passed within the ITRE Committee:

Amending Regulation (EU) 2019/631 as regards strengthening the CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and new light commercial vehicles in line with the Union’s increased climate ambition40 + / 17 – / 19 oPassed
Deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, and repealing Directive 2014/94/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council59 + / 9 – / 8 oPassed
Amending Directive 2003/87/EC establishing a system for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Union, Decision (EU) 2015/1814 concerning the establishment and operation of a market stability reserve for the Union greenhouse gas emission trading scheme and Regulation (EU) 2015/75750 + / 24 – / 2 oPassed
Establishing a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM)57 +/ 16 – /3 oPassed
Establishing a Social Climate Fund57 + / 9 – /10 oPassed
Ensuring a level playing field for sustainable air transport42 + / 6 – /28 oPassed

The Renewable Energy Directive

During ongoing negotiations on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), Mr. Piper (PPE), the Rapporteur, concluded that:

  • This legislation should not be delayed any more by the Commission, as the voting is only foreseen for the 14th of July – there is a need for urgency regarding the negotiations, given the current circumstances;
  • Renewables targets should be increased from 40 to 45% by 2030;
  • The Commission should proceed immediately, and in urgency, with the impact assessments, in order for the legislation to be amended and negotiated.

In response to Mr. Piper, the Commissioner, Madam Wörsdörfer, answered that the Commission is indeed working on increasing the target to 45% by 2030 and that this Directive has an increased importance given the situation in Ukraine. She went on to state that in order to accelerate the adoption of the Directive, regional cooperation is keythe voluntary nature of cooperation has shown to be inefficient – hence, the number of cross-border projects must be urgently increased.

Upon other conclusions, she argued that sectoral targets (long-term, but flexible) must be introduced, especially regarding the industry, transport and buildings, and that there should be a binding minimum target in the area of heating and cooling.

The conversation continued as well on the Energy Efficiency Directive updates on the negotiations, as both pieces of legislation received more than 1100 amendments each. So far, regarding the energy efficiency legislation, the Rapporteur, Mr. N. Fuglsang from S&D reported that the negotiations are bright and promising, with the final vote expected on the 14th of June.

Given that this legislation is touched upon by the ENVI Committee, updates are expected in the summer months, especially on voting procedures that we are expecting in June-July.

Categories EU - Current Affairs

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