1. General issues
According to a Communication of the Commission--based on a large majority public opinion perception --"a political consensus has crystallized to put this issue at the heart of the European Union's political programme: a guiding theme for the Union, central to the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs, and of primary importance in Europe's relations with partners worldwide" (Commission Communication for 2020-20 package, 2007). In this context, climate change has become the "main driver of EU energy policy," with EU leaders keen to stress the progress made and to push the self-- imposed goals. The agreement by the March 2007 European Council to set precise, legally binding targets was a symbol of Europe's determination.
The process took some time and a series of phases have been passed or planned (EURACTIV, 2008):
* 10 Jan. 2007: Commission presents energy and climate change package including a Strategic Energy Review focusing on both external and internal aspects of EU energy policy. The package contains proposals for specific targets on:
* Renewable energy (20% by 2020);
* Biofuels (10% in transport by 2020);
* Greenhouse gas emissions reduction (20% by 2020).
* 9 March 2007: EU summit endorses package, agreeing on a two--year action plan to launch a common energy policy.
* 19 Sept. 2007: Commission tables third legislative package to complete the liberalization of EU electricity and gas markets.
* 22 Nov. 2007: Commission Communication on a Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan).
* 23 Jan. 2008: Commission proposals on EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) for the period after 2013; revised environmental state aid rules and Communication on carbon capture and storage (CCS).
* March 2008: EU Summit agrees to adopt energy/climate package by end 2008.
* 11 Sept. 2008: Parliament's industry committee votes almost unanimously in favor of a report based on boosting the share of renewables in final energy consumption to 20% by 2020.
* 7 Oct. 2008: Parliament's environment committee votes largely in favor of three separate reports on emissions trading, greenhouse gas reduction effort--sharing and CO2 capture and storage.
* 10 Oct. 2008: European energy ministers agree to open EU gas and electricity markets further.
* Nov. 2008: Commission presents Second Strategic European Energy Review, focusing on supply security and fossil fuels.
* 11-12 Dec. 2008: EU summit agrees final version of energy and climate change package.
* 17 Dec. 2008: Parliament endorses energy and climate change package.
* March 2009: EU summit endorses second Strategic European Energy Review.
* 6 Apr. 2009: Council of Ministers adopts final legal texts of the energy and climate change package.
* Nov. 2010: Commission to present Energy Saving Action Plan for 2010 onwards.
* Nov. 2010: EU summit to endorse Energy Saving Action Plan.
* 2020: Target date to achieve the objectives.
It is clear that this new policy will have to reach even beyond the EU's borders into South--East Europe, the Caucasus, the Middle East and North Africa and will have impact not only to the 27 Member States. It is considered to be implemented through a legal package and this energy--climate package embodies the EU policies of reducing green--house gas emissions, achieving sustainable development, ensuring energy security and realizing the Lisbon Strategy for innovation.
The legislative package includes:
1. a directive improving and extending the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading system of the Community;
2. a decision on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions;
3. a directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources;
4. a directive on the geological storage of carbon dioxide;