EU after-summer policy wrap-up

What are the crunch issues of the current and future EU Agenda for cities committed to the energy transition? Read this editorial by Claire Roumet, Executive Director of Energy Cities, to know what our network believes are the key topics of the moment.

Under pressure: EU leadership in a transit zone?

The current humanitarian crisis both revitalises citizens’ sense for solidarity while putting Europe’s cohesion at stake. Already since the beginning of this year, a number of European achievements and what we thought where the stable pillars of European integration have been seriously questioned: the common currency, the free right to move across borders and even the EU membership (Brexit, Grexit…).

This changing context is closely interlinked with the energy transition agenda. Last week, in his speech about the EU’s current state, President Jean-Claude Juncker warned in view of the upcoming COP21 that “[a] failure to get serious about global warming could spark the next migration crisis.”[…].

In July, Pope Francis invited Mayors of big cities to engage in climate action while protecting the most vulnerable ones: “As mayors we commit ourselves to building, in our cities and urban settlements, the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reducing their exposure to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters, which foster human trafficking and dangerous forced migration” (22.07.2015, Roma).

Once the Member States have agreed on how to share the “burden” of incoming migrants, the asylum seekers have to be hosted by local communities. It is up to Mayors to organise their “landing” into a safe harbour. The policy-makers of our Energy Cities network are well aware of the links between increasing migration flows and the urgent need for further climate action. It is one of the reasons why they commit, and will commit again.

Under construction: cities and the Energy Union governance

However, are EU policies moving in the right direction, facilitating cities’ work? As summer is getting to an end, we see that a lot happened during the past months to sketch out the future EU energy policies. Mid-July, the European Commission presented its “Summer Package” outlining energy market’s priorities. EU Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union Maros Sefcovic and EU Commissioner for Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete acknowledged that “the achievement of the Energy Union requires a fundamental transformation of Europe’s energy system.” However, the bundle of proposed measures is not yet backed up by a clear allocation of competences and responsibilities on delivering the European energy and climate goals. It is planned that the future governance system of the Energy Union will be finalised during the next EU Council of Ministers. This will serve as a mechanism helping to collectively deliver the -40% GHG emissions by 2030 promised to the COP21 community. The Council has agreed on the objective but not on how to deliver it (share between each EU Member States).

In the draft conclusions of the upcoming Energy Council, we can read “the energy union governance system will create an inclusive process with citizens and stakeholders, and as a result achieve common ownership of the governance systems”. At least in words, it is a step in the right direction.

Under control: The new Covenant of Mayors

As cities are now being widely recognised as central hubs for the energy and climate action with a need for sincere EU support, European Parliament President Schulz will host the Covenant of Mayors Ceremony in the European Parliament next month. This year, the Covenant of Mayors and Mayors Adapt ceremonies will be merged in one initiaitive, as part of a unique bottom-up movement of local authorities. On this occasion, the European Commission will officially launch the new Covenant of Mayors, as a follow-up to a recent consultation conducted by the Covenant Office with the support of the Committee of the Regions. Ahead of the COP21 Conference in Paris, Signatory cities will be invited to endorse a new post-2020 vision and commitments.

Under 2°C: Energy Cities’ debate during COP21

In the run-up to the COP21, we, at Energy Cities, will very much work on the missing energy transition piece, and debate on how to improve local energy governance. As of now, you can already save the date of Dec 3rd 15-18h for a debate on that topic during COP21: “COPowering change: the role of local governance in delivering the energy transition”. A debate for and with policy-makers supported by the City of Paris in the Maison de L’Europe.

Photo credits:
News > Chepko Danil Vitalevich/
EU Parliament > Hadrian/
Transit > Istvan Czak/