Page 15 - European Energy Innovation - Summer 2017 publication
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Summer 2017 European Energy Innovation     15

                                                       THE ENERGY UNION

It is therefore important to get the        The Committee has also expressed           environmental and economic.
prices and market design right. The         concern at the lack of real progress in
EESC therefore, while welcoming the         tackling energy poverty, which affects     This new paradigm is clearly set out in
Commission’s recognition of the need        more than 80 million people in the EU. I   the latest raft of measures on “Clean
for a fundamental transformation            welcome the newly established Energy       Energy for All Europeans”.
of energy markets, given the ever-          Poverty Observatory, which I called for
increasing use of renewable energy          in early 2015, and we are keen for the     This package includes a number of
and the new opportunities offered by        EESC to play an active role in it.         proposals that the Committee strongly
digitisation:                                                                          believes should be targeted exclusively
                                            VULNERABILITIES AND                        at the general public.
• regrets the continuing existence of       OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONSUMERS
    direct and indirect subsidies that      ON ENERGY MARKETS                          Improving the energy performance
    are harmful to fair competition, and    With its vision of an Energy Union         of buildings, for example, involves
    stresses the need to reform the         “where citizens take ownership of the      deploying the necessary funds
    emissions trading system in order       energy transition [and] participate        to fit insulation and install new
    internalise certain external costs of   actively in the market”, the Commission    technologies in homes, businesses
    energy sources; and                     is setting out a new role for consumers.   and administrative buildings. It will
                                                                                       create a great many jobs, both directly
• echoes certain Member States that         The EESC will take it at its word, not     and indirectly, and new activities for
    have been urging the Commission         least with regard to the concept           businesses throughout Europe.
    to recognise the increasingly           of prosumers (i.e. individuals or
    important role of small-scale           groups who produce and consumer            The same is true of clean energy
    electricity producers, and to allow     electricity) and the increasing use        innovation, which needs to take
    them to participate in energy           of digital technology in the sector.       account of various public and private
    markets by adjusting rules that were    For example, our Committee has             initiatives and to connect and pool
    originally designed for large-scale,    observed that Europe’s energy              them at EU level.
    centralised energy production.          markets are already changing on the
                                            ground, with a significant rise in the     Finally, as I mentioned above, this
THE SOCIAL DIMENSION OF                     number of prosumers of decentralised       progress can only be real and tangible
ENERGY TRANSITION                           renewable energy: there are more than      if it is based on solidarity:
It is imperative to bear in mind that       100 000 even in France, with its highly
any transition – including the ongoing      centralised energy sector. This requires   • solidarity between the European
energy transition – will involve            consumers to be able to participate            institutions and Member States;
reshaping all economies, especially         actively in the market. It should also
carbon-intensive ones, and will entail      make rules and invoices easier to          • solidarity between the Member
social, societal and economic risks         understand, and give all consumers,            States themselves - speaking
for different groups and regions. It is     including the most vulnerable, access          with one voice on international
therefore important to ensure that new      to the new opportunities offered by the        energy issues; a continent-wide
“green” jobs are also decent jobs, in       growth of digital technologies.                energy system that includes our
terms of social protection, health and                                                     Eastern, Balkan and Mediterranean
safety, working conditions, and so on.      CONSTANTLY EVOLVING                            neighbours, allowing for the free
                                            LEGISLATION, DIALOGUE AND A                    flow of cheaper energy; a low-
The EESC also stresses that affected        CIVIL SOCIETY DIMENSION                        carbon economy that helps to tackle
workers must be given the assistance        Most of the progress made since the            climate change; an innovative,
they need to retrain, to help them adapt    Euratom Treaty 60 years ago and in the         competitive and accessible energy
to the new job profiles associated          ECSC has involved market liberalisation        technology sector; a larger skilled
with these new energy options. While        – which, to say the least, has not been a      workforce for the energy system
this is currently particularly urgent in    factor in lowering prices or in improving      of the future; and targeted future-
the fossil fuel sector, especially coal,    security of supply.                            oriented investment.
nuclear workers could in future find
themselves in a similar situation if there  Efforts from now on must take proper       This is the challenge: an Energy Union
is continued growth in these new types      account of the three dimensions of         focused on the people, for the people –
of energy.                                  sustainable development: social,           and by the people. l
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