The energy transition is not just about CO2 released into
the atmosphere. The fight against global warming must
be accompanied by a social support that is worthy of the
name. This is a crucial continental challenge for which
Europe itself is the only relevant area, as Member States
cannot resolve it individually
Between 1990 and today, Europe's dependence on
energy imports has risen from 44.2% of its gross energy
consumption to 53.6%. With a price per barrel fluctuating
between US$52 and US$84 last year, the European Union
spends more than €300 billion per year on its supply
of CO2-emitting fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas), which it does
not have (or has very little of) in its subsoil. Oil and gas
are currently used by a large majority of the 500 million
Europeans as fuel for travelling and heating.
Reducing these massive historical energy imports
comes under the broad objective of achieving energy
independence and sovereignty, of fighting global warming,
of reducing Europe's 'carbon footprint', and above all of
protecting Europeans in a situation of energy poverty.
And yet, energy poverty remains a blind spot for the
Energy Union. The establishment in January 2018 of the
EU Energy Poverty Observatory has not, for the time being,
given rise to a European definition of energy poverty. This
in turn means that it is not possible to produce an exact
inventory or to develop a joint action in this area.
European directives for opening up energy markets have
not really made it possible to keep prices down. The
creation of a European energy shield would be the most
appropriate tool for a Europe that protects its citizens,
according to their wishes.
This mechanism would require a common definition of
energy poverty, as well as a European Energy Solidarity
Fund, fuelled by a consistent "flagging" of European Fund
for Strategic Investments (EFSI) resources to support all
the initiatives of those at the front line in the fight against
energy poverty, including operators and local authorities.
The shield goes hand in hand with a real carbon price
established at Europe’s borders, which would complement
the existing carbon market via its application to imported
fossil fuels and to the carbon content of products
imported by Europeans to avoid environmental dumping.
At a time when the United States is stepping back from
the Paris Agreement and when China’s environmental
initiatives have ulterior economic motives, an EU border
carbon tax would finally restore the virtuous circle: a
relocation of European industry that takes better account
of the environment.
Much is at stake. Not least, preserving our planet and
enabling European citizens to reconnect with the
Head of European Public Affairs
Mob: +33 6 07 51 74 47