Table of contents

4.2.1. EU energy policy

Current EU energy policy follows three key principles (EC, 2018n):

  1. Secure energy supplies;
  2. Ensuring that energy providers operate competitively in order to achieve affordable prices;
  3. Sustainable energy production and use via lower greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and fossil fuel dependence.

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The relative attention paid to each key principle has shifted over time. In the 1990s, the focus was on competitiveness with the liberalisation of the European electricity and gas markets. From 2006 onwards, following the Russian–Ukrainian gas crises, energy security of supply policies played a more prominent role. Climate policies have played a long-term and increasingly important role in European energy policy-making since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit (EC, 2015a). The 2020 climate and energy package, including the Europe 2020 targets, was enacted in legislation in 2009. It placed climate change mitigation at the centre of EU energy policy. With the European Union firmly committed to the goals of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, climate change will remain an important policy focus.

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The European Energy Union Strategy was launched in 2015 and is the most recent and comprehensive European energy policy package setting key targets for the future (EC, 2018c). It has five main ‘dimensions’:

  1. Security, solidarity and trust (security of supply pillar): diversifying Europe's sources of energy and ensuring energy security through solidarity and cooperation between EU countries;
  2. A fully integrated internal energy market (competitiveness pillar): enabling energy to flow freely through the EU, through adequate infrastructure and without technical or regulatory barriers;
  3. Energy efficiency (environment / security of supply pillar): improved energy efficiency will reduce dependence on energy imports, lower emissions, and drive jobs and growth;
  4. Decarbonising the economy (environment pillar): the EU is committed to the Paris Agreement and to retaining its leadership in the area of renewable energy;
  5. Research, innovation and competitiveness (competitiveness pillar): supporting breakthroughs in low-carbon and clean energy technologies by prioritising research and innovation to drive the energy transition and improve competitiveness

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The EU Energy Union

The Energy Union Strategy includes quantitative mitigation targets for 2030, building on the climate and energy package targets for 2030 (see Section 2.2.1 for details). The achievement of the Energy Union is supported by accompanying measures and packages such as the Clean Energy for All Europeans Package, which includes eight legislative proposals (EC, 2016f).

Of particular relevance is the EU Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action (EU, 2018d) that was adopted in December 2018. The preamble highlights that ‘This Regulation should ensure reporting by Member States on adaptation to climate change […]. Furthermore, information on national adaptation actions and support is also important in the context of the integrated national energy and climate plans, especially as regards adaptation to those adverse effects of climate change related to the security of the Union's energy supply such as the availability of cooling water for power plants and biomass availability for energy’.

This regulation includes several requirements for EU Member States that are relevant in the context of this report. First, Member States need to develop integrated national energy and climate plans (NECPs) aligned with the five dimensions of the Energy Union (Article 3). Climate resilience and adaptation is addressed primarily in the dimension ‘Energy Security’ where NECPs are required to include objectives with regard to ‘resilience of regional and national energy systems’. ‘Sector targets and adaptation goals’ are also mentioned under the dimension ‘Decarbonisation’. The NECPs will be implemented in the 2021-2030 period, with updates every 10 years. Member States were requested to submit their draft plans to the Commission by 31 December 2018. The Commission will provide recommendations by 30 June 2019 (EU, 2018c). Upon this, Member States are to submit final plans by 31 December 2019. Member States are required to provide integrated national energy and climate progress reports on the implementation of the NECPs every two years, starting in March 2023 (Article 17). Second, Member States are required to develop long-term strategies (LTS) with a perspective of at least 30 years (Article 15). These LTS shall include, among others, ‘adaptation policies and measures’. The first LTSs need to be submitted by 1 January 2020, with updates every 5 or 10 years. Third, Member States need to report on national adaptation actions every two years, starting in March 2021 (Article 19). The Commission will be assisted by the EEA (related to all reporting above-mentioned streams), an Energy Union Committee (related to the integrated national energy and climate progress reports) and a Climate Change Committee (related to the report on national adaptation actions).

Another relevant piece of legislation is a (revised) Regulation on risk-preparedness in the electricity sector, which was agreed among the co-legislators in November 2018 (EU, 2018b; EC, 2016j). Climate change is specifically mentioned as a driver for increasing crisis situations in the Impact Assessment for this Regulation. The agreed text of the Regulation does not explicitly refer to ‘climate change’, but it repeatedly highlights ‘extreme weather’ or ‘severe weather’ as the trigger of electricity crisis situations. This regulation is expected to increase transparency also through its requirement to produce evaluations after crisis situations.

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The EU Energy Strategies for 2020 and 2030 and the EU long-term strategy

The EU has developed various strategies to meet the EU Energy Union targets for 2020, 2030 and 2050 (see Section 2.2.2 for details). The 2020 Energy Strategy established five priorities (EC, 2010a):

  1. Improve energy efficiency by accelerating investment into efficient buildings, products and transport;
  2. Build a pan-European energy market via infrastructural development to integrate all EU countries to the internal market;
  3. Protect consumer rights and achieve high safety standards in the energy sector;
  4. Implement the Strategic Energy Technology Plan to accelerate low carbon technology development and deployment; and
  5. Safeguard external supplies of energy.

Among other measures, the 2030 Energy Strategy (EC, 2018a), put forward new indicators for the competitiveness and security of the energy system, a new governance system based on national plans, and a new framework committed to the quantitative targets.

The long-term EU GHG reduction strategy ‘A Clean Planet for All’ (EC, 2018j) puts forward a vision to steer the EU economy and society towards a (largely) CO2 emissions-free future in 2050.

Achieving the EU Energy Union targets should align with the implementation timelines of the Roadmap for the Energy Union (EC, 2015b). Progress towards achievement of the targets is described in the Third Report on the State of the Energy Union (EC, 2017) and, more recently, in several regular EEA reports (EEA, 2018i, 2018h, 2018f).

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Other energy-related EU policies with adaptation relevance

In 2013, the EC adopted the first list of Projects of Common Interest on trans-European energy infrastructure (EC, 2010b, 2018l). Infrastructure priorities focus on strategic planning, establishing a comprehensive infrastructure development scenario, smart grids, defining clear and transparent priority project criteria, ensuring fast and transparent permit-granting procedures and improving EU financial instruments. The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency was established in 2014 to implement the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) programme, while also implementing the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) (EC, 2018d, 2018n).

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The Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) (EC, 2018v) strategy is focused on improving the links between the energy infrastructure of the EU across Member States. The revised TEN-E guidelines approved in 2013 (EC, 2013d) place a stronger emphasis on climate mitigation than adaptation. However, they prescribe that Member States should give due consideration in infrastructure planning to improving resilience and preventing technical failures induced by climate change.

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The Commission proposal for a regulation on the internal market for electricity (COM(2016)861) is currently proceeding through the legislative process as part of the implementation of the Clean Energy Package (European Parliament, 2018). Its key objectives include the redesign of the electricity market to enable greater consumer empowerment to manage their own energy consumption, participate on an equal footing to other market participants and support demand side solutions, storage and the integration of digitalisation and innovative technologies. The latter flexibilities could potentially help to achieve important benefits in terms of energy system resilience.

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The Directive on the protection of critical infrastructure (EU, 2008) has established the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP). One of the pillars of the EPCIP is the Critical Infrastructure Warning Information Network (CIWIN), which offers accredited members of the EU’s critical infrastructure protection community the opportunity to exchange and discuss information related to a range of hazards and share good practices across multiple sectors, particularly in the case of transboundary networks. This Directive is currently being evaluated (EC, 2018o).

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The Directive on maritime spatial planning (EU, 2014a) requires that the development of energy sectors at sea improves the resilience to climate change impacts.

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The Directive on disclosure of non-financial information (EU, 2014b) requires most large companies (including energy companies) to include information on certain social and environmental policies in their annual reports from 2018 onwards. The Commission has published non-binding ‘Guidelines on non-financial reporting’ that countries may use for providing this information (EC, 2017c). In January 2019, the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance published its ‘Report on Climate-related disclosures’ (EU TEGSF, 2019). This report recommends including climate-related impacts and risks on a company’s business models in the non-financial reporting. Key performance indicators shall be linked to national and international climate-related policies, whereby the EU Adaptation Strategy is mentioned explicitly. The main target of these annual reports are investors. However, this kind of information could also be useful for monitoring the progress in addressing adaptation by certain energy companies. Section 4.3.3 discusses reporting obligations for providers of energy infrastructure introduced by national law; Box 3.2 provides a recent example where failure to adequately address climate-related risks led to the bankruptcy of a large utility company.

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