As those following our Twitter will have seen, today saw EU leaders meet in Brussels for the 2014 Spring Council Meeting. Amongst an agenda dominated by the crisis in Ukraine and the Unions relationship with Russia, the Council also discussed the EU2030 package on climate and energy.
Whilst we weren't expecting a final announcement on the framework today, the actual outcome (which in an obvious damage control measure by the Council, is being labelled as a ‘kick-off') was disappointing.
In short, the announcement was as follows…
This was an initial talk/ first discussion. The Union are committed to GHG reductions and new roadmaps for GHG targets. The Council are keen to reach an early decision, by no later than Oct 2014. They are also keen to stress that targets will be fully in line with long term 2050 ambitions.
Contrary to some commentators on Budget Day, EEF is a strong supporter climate change mitigation action, particularly at EU and more pressing at global level. Moving towards a low carbon economy has the potential to provide considerable benefit for manufacturers and as leaders in the area, the UK manufacturing industry could win big. Our members recognise this and are continuously striving, innovating and developing new tech to help us achieve this goal. Having a long term strategy set by the EU or national government allows organisations to achieve these goals, confident that their investment is going to be worthwhile. Thus the EU delaying the discussion on the 2030 energy and climate framework isn't helpful to manufacturers and as such we are disappointed.
EEF would have liked to have seen an announcement that shows the rest of the world that a wide and varied group of stakeholders can reach a consensus and can show nations how to move their economies to deliver a low carbon supply chain that delivers for everyone from assembly lines, retailers and consumers.
The Council has the opportunity to use the delay and the additional time this has given to fully understand whether the Commission proposed target, is realistic and indeed achievable. The Council should also consider whether those targets are achieved in a cost effective manner that will have a positive impact on the wider EU economy. We'd also ask that the Council have a clear vision of where the emission cuts will come from and when. Furthermore, this delay could also provide a period of reflection to highlight that we (as a trading/ negotiating block) don't need a separate target for renewables, but instead should be focusing on the global aim of reducing GHG regardless of how that is achieved.
Having said all that, we were happy to see the Council talking about finalising the long-awaited integrated energy market, their understanding that we need a closer tie between climate and energy policies within the EU and their continued emphasis on making competitiveness a key goal of any new agreement.
But overall (and despite some good points) it can't be ignored that the Council failed to move forward on the issues that manufacturers and wider industry need certainty on.