EU Parliamentarians back the creation of an Energy Union

Only a couple of days after the ending of the COP21 Paris conference and that a historic agreement to tackle climate change was agreed by world leaders, a majority of EU parliamentarians adopted a strategy for the Energy Union.

The motion was adopted by 403 vote in favour, 177 against and 117 abstentions. The majority in favour of the motion included the three pro-EU groups: the Christian-Democrats, the Socialists and the Liberals. The Conservative group, as well as the Nationalist, Eurosceptic and Radical-left groups all opposed the resolution. The Greens abstained. Notably, in the EU People’s Party the Polish delegation abstained.

Click here to see how each parliamentarian voted.

The adopted text says that the policies pursued under the Energy Union must always have as objectives to ensure the security of supply, decarbonisation, sustainability of the economy and affordable competitive energy prices.

The resolution also underlines that citizens should be at the core of the EU Energy Union and be provided with secure sustainable and affordable energy. To achieve these goals, the MEPs in favour of the motion called for the diversification of supply in terms of energy sources, suppliers and routes. Moreover, improving energy efficiency will help in reducing the risk of dependency for the EU and reinforce the negotiating position of the Union in energy related matters, says the motion.

In this respect, renewable energy sources are seen as essential for the EU energy union particularly for achieving energy security and political and economic independence by reducing the need for energy imports. Efforts by EU countries to reduce their dependence on energy imports, by integrating their energy markets are needed.

Developing a new energy culture especially among younger generations to meet energy efficiency and climate change targets is also emphasised by the text. Indeed, it calls on member states to raise awareness among younger citizens in order to build a new energy consumer behaviour.

EU financial support to nuclear energy rejected

An amendment put forward by the Eurosceptic group EFDD requesting to delete a paragraph of the motion emphasising that nuclear energy should be supported financially by the EU was pushed through by only 2 votes. The votes against the financing of nuclear energy came from the Liberals, the Socialists, the Greens and the Radical-left members. The Christian-Democrats, the Conservatives and the Nationalist members were instead in favour of the financial support to nuclear sources of energy. In the EFDD group, UKIP members abstained. In the Socialist group, British members abstained as well.

EU not to fund nuclear energy

Need for separate energy chapter in the Free Trade Agreement with the US – agreed

An overwhelming majority of EU Parliamentarians voted in favour of having a separate energy chapter in the Free Trade Agreement (TTIP) currently negotiated between the EU and the US. The paragraph was adopted by 507 votes in favour to 164 against.

Amendment in favour of binding climate and energy targets – adopted

The provision put forward by the Socialist and Liberal groups reemphasising the Parliament call for binding 2030 climate and energy targets was adopted by 351 votes in favour to 336 votes against. The centre-left groups, S&D, ALDE, Greens and GUE-NGL, supported the amendment against the centre-right groups, EPP, ECR, EFDD and ENF, that opposed it.

Binding energy targets

Russia is an unreliable partner – adopted

A paragraph saying that Russia is an unreliable partner which uses its energy supply as a political weapon was endorsed by 398 EU parliamentarians. 109 of them opposed and 187 members abstained. The Christian-Democrats, the Conservative, the Liberals, the Greens and UKIP members all supported the provision. The nationalist group of Marine Le Pen and the Radical-left MEPs were against it. Finally, the Socialist members abstained.

Russia in an unreliable partner

Position of the Political Groups

European People’s Party (EPP), the political family of President Juncker and Chancellor Merkel, explained that the clear aim of the Energy Union should be to strengthen the security of energy supply and increase energy efficiency with affordable cost[1].

The Socialists and Democrats (S&D) of EP President Schulz and French President Hollande claimed that a strong Energy Union is needed to promote EU’s sustainable growth. They are in favour of binding energy efficiency and climate change targets[2].

The European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR) David Cameron’s EU political group is of the opinion “that binding targets in the Energy Union report undermine the whole concept” and that therefore they could not support the text[3].

The Liberal group ALDE of Mr Verhofstadt supported the report because the actions recommended will help to lower the cost of energy bills, de-carbonise the European economy and reduce Europe’s reliance on imported fossil fuels. The ALDE group is also in favour of binding 2030 climate and energy targets[4].

GUE/NGL: The radical left group close to the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras opposes the strategy on Energy Union because “it limits the sovereignty of states, fails to combat energy poverty, enhances inequalities, promotes nuclear energy and calls on the Commission to include a separate energy chapter in the TTIP.” They support a position where “energy is a public social good and everyone has equal access to it, where there is enhanced state control, public infrastructures for the benefit of the people and international partnerships based on solidarity.[5]

The Greens/EFA group believes that the direction of EU energy policy is at odds with the commitments Europe has taken under the UN climate agreement in Paris. They welcomed the inclusion of the renewed call for the EU to increase its 2030 energy target to 40%[6].