EU taking big step forward toward energy democracy

The agreement makes it easier for European citizens to set up their own renewable energy projects


Publication date

June 14, 2018

Early this morning the European Parliament and the European Council reached an agreement on the Renewable Energy Directive: by 2030 the EU will have to increase renewables to 32% share of the energy supply and in order to reach this binding target, for the first time, an explicit role for citizens and communities is foreseen.

After a long night of negotiations, the Parliament and the Council reached a final agreement on how Europe will implement renewables over the next decades.

The agreement marks an important step forward toward energy democracy, as not only it acknowledged the role of democratically controlled cooperatives in the energy transition but it will also make it easier for European citizens to set up their own renewable energy projects, protecting them from the big players of the energy market. This implies that European citizens, cooperatives and local authorities will be able to produce, consume, store and sell their own renewable energy without being subjected to punitive measure such as excessive administrative burden, taxes or fiscal requirements – the Spanish “sun-tax” being one among many examples.

Despite the very progressive position of the European Parliament, who had asked for a 35% increase in renewables by 2030, European governments could not agree for more than a 32% increase – definitely too low for preventing important climate change effects in the long term. Hopefully this is going to change in 2023, when there will be the possibility of further increasing the target.

Part of the deal also included a target for renewable energy in transport, now set at 14% increase by 2030. Palm oil will be phased out by 2030 and European countries will no longer be obliged to subsidise food-based biofuels to meet the EU’s future green energy targets. The new target will positively impact the uptake of electric vehicles in the years to come. Strong reactions are expected by the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia, amongst the biggest palm oil producers in the world.

The work is not over yet, a lot is still to be decided in order to define the future of energy in Europe! Negotiations are now continuing on energy efficiency and governance, while the discussions on energy market design will start soon. Afterwards, it will be up to the European governments to translate the directive into national laws.