Welcome to the new edition of Publyon’s EU Energy and Climate Policy Update. In this bi-weekly update, Publyon provides you with the latest insights on the ‘Fit for 55’ negotiations as well as updates on the energy transition, the energy crisis and the EU’s response, including other relevant news on the EU’s climate and emissions reduction policies.
From Finance to Climate: Hoekstra is the new candidate to replace Timmermans
After only a week from the official resignation of Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, President Ursula von der Leyen announced the next Commissioner from The Netherlands. She announced the candidacy of Wopke Hoekstra, from the Christian-Democrats (CDA). Hoekstra will replace Timmermans, who returned to national politics leading the green and socialist coalition for the Dutch elections on 22 November – in the hope to become the next Dutch Prime Minister.
Hoekstra, who has previously worked on European matters, through his roles as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and former Minister of Finance, will have the crucial role of representing the EU at this year COP28 in Dubai. Von der Leyen also praised Hoekstra’s knowledge in climate finance and governmental expertise as valuable assets in the preparation for COP28. However, critics (read: green, leftist and central policymakers) hold that despite his extensive experience in financial matters, Hoekstra has little expertise in climate action.
Where does that leave Šefčovič?
Since Timmermans’ withdrawal, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič has been appointed to take over his role as Commissioner in charge of the European Green Deal. He will officially continue to offer guidance to Wopke Hoekstra amidst his new tasks. Although Šefčovič stands as a more convincing defender of climate action than Hoekstra – if we are to believe the critics – he will likely be more reserved in defending climate targets than Frans Timmermans. Only time will tell what the Hoekstra-Šefčovič duo will combine to push ongoing climate files to closure before the new College of Commissioners coming into office next year.
Hoekstra’s nomination will now have to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. In a date still to be confirmed, Hoekstra will be heard by the Parliamentary Committee for Environment’s chair Pascal Canfin. Without approval of both institutions, Hoekstra cannot officially access his new role as a Commissioner. The deal is thus not done yet.
Publyon’s annual transport networking event
Limited places available! Register now for the Publyon annual transport networking event on Monday 18 September starting at 18:00. The event will be centred around the publication of the Greening Freight Package, with the participation of Ms. Annika Kroon, Head of Unit for Maritime Transport and Logistics at the European Commission, and various industry stakeholders. The event will take place at the premises of Holland House Brussels, located at Rue d’Arlon 20, Brussels.
Due to high demand, registrations are subject to approval.REGISTER
EU filled up with gas
The European Commission has announced that the EU reached its gas storage targets, ahead of the coming winter. In 2022, the EU has set gas storage targets as one of the measures to cope with the energy crisis. One of these measures is to reach a 90% gas storage level by 1 November 2023.
This is good news! The target has been reached 12 weeks in advance, easing the fears of gas price shocks this coming winter. Nevertheless, EU needs to remain cautious as the price level during the winter for gas will still be around €50, much higher than the period before Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Macron’s nuclear vision: energising France’s future amid past hurdles
Outlining France’s 2050 energy plan, French President Macron has unveiled a “nuclear renaissance”. He revealed plans for six new reactors as part of his push for energy independence and economic resilience. This announcement seeks also to offset past decision by Macron, including the sale of Alstom’s energy branch to US company General Electric (GE) in 2014. On the same day, Macron made official the purchase of GE’s nuclear steam turbines by the French state-owned energy company EDF.
Coming just two months before French presidential election, these announcements are key moments in Macron’s campaign centred around sovereignty of critical infrastructure. The reactor commissioning plan, with the first reactor projected by 2035 and the option for eight more, intends to revitalise the aging nuclear fleet while ensuring energy safety.
The nuclear campaign raises concerns among environmentalists, with Green presidential candidate Yannik Jadot criticising Macron’s approach deemed as obsolete.
UN Chief Guterres urges unity on climate action at 15th BRICS Summit
On the final day of the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, UN Secretary-General Guterres emphasised the need for unity to confront ‘existential challenges’ like climate change. In his speech the UN chief highlighted his Climate Solidarity Pact and Acceleration Agenda. The former calls for big emitters to further cut emissions and urges wealthy countries to increase their financial and technical support to emerging economies. The latter focuses on the phasing out of coal and other fossil fuels.
Guterres also asked developed countries to keep their promise to developing countries. This includes meeting the $100 billion goal in climate finance agreed during COP15, doubling adaptation finance, replenishing the green finance fund, and operationalising the loss and damage fund this year.
Questions about the role and unity of BRICS regarding the UN climate agenda arise as the group announced that six countries, including major oil producers, will join the current members as of 2024, namely Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Argentina, the UAE and Ethiopia. The expansion doubled the BRICS membership but made it even more disparate and analysts wonder if the group would be able to act in unison.
France strengthens industrial sovereignty: tightening controls on foreign investments in critical raw materials
France has announced the economic focal point for the year as it extends its controls on foreign investments in raw materials in a bid to become the EU’s green economy leader by 2040. The Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, has outlined that the scope of these oversight measures will be widened to specifically target the extraction and transformation of critical raw materials. The objective is to safeguard strategic interests and examine foreign investments in sectors crucial for sovereignty.
The plan also applies to French branches of non-EU companies that specialise in critical raw material activities, as some have been found to be used to avoid notification obligations. In keeping with EU endeavours, such as the recently published Critical Raw Materials Act, France aims to decrease dependence on China, which dominates the supply chain for 14 of 27 critical raw materials.
Driving change: IEA’s report on the clean energy transition of road transportation
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published its report on the implementation of the clean energy transition of road transportation. The report focuses on the impact of the road sector on the energy demand, CO2 emissions, and air pollution in the emerging economies of Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and South Africa. These countries’ emissions in the road transport sector increased by almost 40% between 2000 and 2021. Most notably, the report aims to bring the road transport decarbonisation pathway in line with the Announced Pledges Scenario (APS), which shows to what extent targets are on track to deliver net zero emissions by 2050.
The IEA report gives several recommendations to improve the clean energy transition including strengthening transport policymaking through a national transportation plan, promoting public transportation, accelerating the electrification of cars, enhancing fuel economy standards, and boosting the uptake of sustainable biofuels.
- In early September, the European Commission will likely publish the Combined Transport Directive.
- On 4 September the Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) will hold a meeting on methane emissions reduction in the energy sector.
- During the Plenary sitting from 11 to 14 September, MEPs are expected to endorse the Trilogue agreements on Renewable Energy Directive and ReFuelEU Aviation.
- On 13 September, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will deliver the State of the Union.
Greening Freight package: key issues to watch
On 11 July, the European Commission published its long-awaited “Greening Freight package” to further cut back emissions from the freight sector and enhance its competitive position. The new set of rules puts the – often overlooked – freight sector in the limelight and is expected to impact a variety of transport and logistic companies, ranging from rail infrastructure managers to freight forwarders and hauliers. Read more in our website.READ ARTICLE
Where can you run into our team?
On 5 September, you can grab a drink with our colleagues Arnaud and Hazal at the Rooftop REconnect: Networking event.
Hi, my name is Sara and I am curating the Energy & Climate Policy Update to bring you the latest news on ‘Fit for 55’ as well as energy and climate insights. Do not hesitate to reach out should you have any questions or if you want to know how EU energy and climate policies might impact your business.Contact