Energy Union: Europe's sustainable energy transition starts at the local level

Borås Accumulator Tank

The members of the commission for environment, climate change and energy (ENVE) held an external meeting in Borås, Sweden on 18-19 November. Climate adaptation, water management and the evaluation of the LIFE programme were on the spotlight. The ENVE commission organised a conference under the title "Energy Union – local and regional solutions for sustainable, secure and affordable energy". Local leaders are looking into policy burdens and measures to stimulate sustainable energy investments as the European Commission is to make legislative proposals next December on how to reach a 27 percent share of renewable energy consumption by 2030.


Members of the ENVE commission of the European Committee of the Regions are back to work after an intense October plenary session during which three opinions - on climate change, the c ircular economy and sustainable heating and cooling systems , were adopted. The Energy Union, climate adaptation, water management and the LIFE programme were on the discussion table in Borås.

The CoR organised a conference on the Energy Union, the policy framework that is to guide Europe's transition towards a sustainable, secure and affordable energy system. The conclusions are clear: to use the potential of multi-level governance to ensure affordable energy for households and local businesses, the need to boost local power generation and inter-connected smart infrastructures and the necessity to green our economy through innovative, low carbon technologies and sustainable modes of energy production and consumption.

Michel Lebrun (BE/EPP), former CoR president and member of Viroinval Municipal Council in Belgium said " cities and regions are the key component in Europe's sustainable energy transition as they are responsible for creating favourable legal environments locally, raise awareness and capacity building and incentivise public-private partnerships through fiscal measures ". Lebrun is the rapporteur of the opinion on " a new deal for energy consumers in Europe" adopted April 2016.

" The key is to motivate regions and cities to aggregate small investments into bigger projects in order to maximise funding, feasibility and success " said Bruno HRANIĆ (HR/EPP). The Mayor of the Municipality of Vidovec, Croatia, presented NEWLIGHT, an energy efficient street lighting project involving 57 Croatian cities funded by ELENA, a top EU investment fund supporting sustainable energy investments.

Delegates had an exchange of views on water management systems. A dedicated opinion by rapporteur Cees Loggen (NL/ALDE), member of the Executive Council of the Province of Noord-Holland is on the pipeline. Its title accurately summaries its purpose: 'effective water management systems: an approach to innovative solutions". As global warming makes droughts and floods more frequent and intense, Cees Loggen's opinion looks into technical innovations but also new administrative and political approaches for more efficient water management.

Climate change keeps a high position in the CoR's political agenda. A first exchange of views took place in Borås on an opinion entitled "towards a new EU climate change adaptation strategy taking an integrated approach". Rapporteur is Sirpa Hertell (FI/EPP), member of the Espoo city council and vice-chair of the ENVE commission.

Delegates also discussed on "A mid –term evaluation of the LIFE programme". An outlook opinion is to be adopted in February 2017. Its rapporteur is Witold Stepien (PL/EPP), Marshal of the Lodzkie Region in Poland.

The ENVE Commission  appointed Juri Gotmans (EE/PES), mayor of the Estonian municipality of Haanja as rapporteur on the combined opinion on "Legislative proposals for a new Effort Sharing Decision and LULUCF" (Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry).

Delegates had the opportunity to visit the Sobacken waste treatment plant which converts food waste into biogas for busses, garbage trucks and private cars. The city of Borås also hosts an innovative Accumulator Tank, a 70-meter tower that manages fluctuating demand on the district heating network in a sustainable manner. It's has a capacity of 37,000 cubic meters to store energy as hot water.