EU Agrees Upon Binding 32 Per Cent Target For Renewable Energy by 2030

On 14 June 2018 the European Union reached a political agreement to introduce a legally binding renewable energy target of 32 per cent of total energy consumption across the Union. This target must be reached by 2030. The target will form part of the new recast Renewable Energy Directive that is currently in the legislative process of the EU, as part of the so called `Clean Energy for All Europeans` - packagage.
The EU currently has a legally binding target in place to reach 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020 under the so called 20/20/20-goals. However, as 2020 is almost reached, a new goal became necessary to further steer the European energy transition.

The political agreement on the new target has been bitterly fought over. First, the question of whether a EU-wide goal would be desirable at all was discussed, followed by different assessments on whether or not such a goal should be made legally binding. The political agreement on the number of 32 per cent is the latest step on that way.

The number 32 in itself was heavily fought over. While the European Parliament and some Member States with huge solar potential like Spain and Italy fought for an even more ambitious target of 35 per cent, the majority of Member States were aiming at a lower number. Among the big Member States the UK advocated 30 per cent, according to British media reports. France and Germany were supporting a 32 per cent target, with Germany adding that this would be an outmost number, arguing that otherwise the deal would become to expensive and Eastern European countries would be unlilkely to agree, according to German media reports.

The European Commission, in its statement on the deal, was keen to point out that the Member States also agreed to `an upwards revision clause by 2023`, meaning that they could revise the goal upwards by 2023, the date when United Nation`s countries have to present their new climate plans in the next climate negotiations.

Despite all that positive media attention, some key issues remain from the legal point of view. The text of the recast Renewable Directive still has to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council. The question is to which extend the Directive will feature legally binding goals for Member States individually, copying the approach of the 2020 targets. Such demands have been raised by parts of the European Parliament, but whith the new political agreement it seems as if the EU will only be able to agree on an overarching goal of 32 per cent for the whole of the EU. This raises questions about enforcement and compliance. As usual, the devil is in the detail.


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