Ugo Cappellacci (IT/EPP)
The role of local and regional authorities and consumers needs to be properly addressed and more support given to market-driven technology if the EU is to fulfil its plans in achieving an energy efficient future. These are some of the main points raised in the Committee of the Region’s (CoR) draft opinion led by the rapporteur, Ugo Cappellacci (IT/EPP) on the "Energy Roadmap 2050" which was discussed during the Environment, Climate Change and Energy (ENVE) Commission meeting held on 28th June.
The opinion, which will be formally presented for adoption at the CoR’s plenary in October, contributes to the European Commission’s legislative proposal released in December last year which hopes to secure the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of energy. The plans form part of the EU’s ambitious goal of cutting 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
Whilst the opinion fully endorses the European Commission’s overall strategy, it suggests that the potential of local and regional authorities needs to be unlocked by providing sufficient financial support. It also proposes that there is a need to define the 2030 policy framework within the appropriate timetable to provide investor security. The CoR’s opinion further argues that in order to assist the transition to a more efficient energy system, it needs to recognise the need to support the public and facilitate market-driven technology in achieving these aims.
The ENVE Commission meeting was also an opportunity for the CoR to report back on the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Ilmar Reepalu (SE/PES) and Michel Lebrun (BE/EPP), who formed part of the CoR delegation in Rio, explained that they were pleased that local and regional authorities had been formally recognised as making a significant contribution to global sustainable development. They noted that they had also held a successful side-event where the CoR had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Rapporteur Corrie McChord (UK/PES) also presented his working document on "The implementation of the Soil Thematic Strategy". With an estimated 115 million hectares of land affected in Europe alone, the EU has acknowledged the need to take urgent steps to respond to the serious issue of soil degradation. Following the adoption of the Soil Thematic Strategy in 2006, the progress report reviews how far the objectives have been met. In his opinion the rapporteur argues that soil needs to be given the same level of protection as water and air and, whilst recognising differences between regions, with only 9 out of 27 Member States having put soil legislation in place it needs to go further through the introduction of common principles across all Member States. The draft opinion is scheduled for discussion at the CoR’s September plenary before being presented for formal adoption at the following plenary in November.
An opinion on "Regional-specific approaches to climate change"(rapporteur: Luciano Caveri - IT/ALDE) reviewed the concept of taking a differentiated approach to regions with varying geographic, demographic or socio-economic characteristics which is enshrined within the Lisbon Treaty. The opinion, which was adopted during the meeting, considers that this approach needs to be re-examined taking into consideration the effects of climate change. The rapporteur argues that the aim of territorial cohesion can only be achieved if EU policies are based on joint responsibility in taking a differentiated approach. This opinion aims to contribute to the EU Adaptation Strategy that will be published early in 2013.
During the meeting rapporteur Nilgun Canver (UK/PES) also presented her working document on "Towards a 7th EAP: better implementation of EU environmental law". It argues that delayed or insufficient implementation of environmental legislation can have serious negative repercussions ranging from extra costs to uncertainty for local and regional authorities and industry and, ultimately, environmental and health issues. To mitigate against these problems the European Commission wants to encourage Member States to be more responsive to environmental issues by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of information collection and exchange. Canver notes that Member States rely on good cooperation between regional and local authorities in developing a systematic approach to knowledge collection and dissemination as well as monitoring and implementing EU environmental legislation. The opinion is foreseen to be adopted during the CoR’s November plenary.
Video: Ugo Cappellacci (IT/EPP) at the ENVE Commission meeting (In Italian only)