In this interview,
(BE/EA), Member of the Flemish Parliament, and the European Committee of the Regions rapporteur of the opinion '
Amending the Renewable Energy Directive to meet the new 2030 climate target
during the 27-29 April plenary session, answers four questions on the role of local and regional authorities in the revision of the Directive and their contribution to the EU's energy independence. The opinion called on the European Commission to
assess the feasibility of further raising the Directive's targets, based on a detailed impact assessment that takes into account its asymmetric impact on regions across the EU.
To what extent does the Renewable Energy Directive contribute to the
EU's aim of independence from external energy supplies?
The war in Ukraine has placed energy security on top of the political
agenda, and showed the price of the EU's dependence on fossil-fuel imports.
The recently adopted REPowerEU plan is a step in the right direction to
rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels and accelerate the energy
Diversifying energy sources and increasing the share of renewable energies
in the EU’s energy mix is crucial to addressing energy-security threats and
to tackling high-energy prices, which are putting vulnerable citizens at
We therefore need to ramp up our investments in renewables and adapt the
Renewable Energy Directive to the EU’s climate ambition to reduce 55% of
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.
We need more support at the local and regional level to develop energy
communities, power our public buildings with renewable-energy sources, and
to offer the transport, building and industrial sectors alternative energy
sources that are secure, affordable and sustainable.
Renewable Energy Directive so important to
EU’s new 2030
In order for the EU to achieve global climate goals and to become
climate-neutral by 2050, an ambitious and stable regulatory framework is
required. Such a framework should take due account of the role of local and
regional authorities and it is therefore important that the Member States
fully involve local and regional authorities in the planning and
implementation of national climate measures.
From a local and regional perspective, we believe that further
incentives for the setting up of renewable-energy communities are
necessary. We must keep facilitating the permitting process, while
reducing administrative barriers and factors that prevent grid access.
The key issue is to incentivise collective self-generation and
self-consumption of sources of renewable energy. We need to ramp up
investments through public funding, EU support programmes and
private-public partnerships, including cross-border renewable energy
projects that strategically contribute to a truly integrated,
decarbonised and decentralised EU energy system.
What is the role of regions and cities in the Directive and how can
they benefit from it?
Renewable-energy production has a strong local dimension and we the
Directive recognises the role of local energy communities and the benefits
that they can bring to the citizens and territories involved.
Nonetheless, the potential for renewable-energy production is different in
urban and rural areas, islands and mountain regions. Natural conditions for
the production of solar, wind or hydrogen vary – but the presence of
specific industries and the dependency on fossil fuels, also differ across
Solutions that are ideal in Sweden may not be ideal solutions in, for
example, France or Poland. The measures and priority investments we are
currently deploying in Flanders may not be applicable in other regions in
The EU legislation on renewable energies should therefore mirror such
specificities and take into account the asymmetric territorial impact of
the proposed measures across regions, and within Member States, favouring a
bottom-up approach rather than a top-down approach.
What should be the three main priorities of the revised Renewable
First, I would say we should respect the principle of technological
neutrality, for the EU to decarbonise its economy in a cost-efficient
manner and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, at the lowest social and
economic costs. We should therefore not exclude technologies that can
generate more than 70% of GHG savings, or that enable material recovery and
moving forward circular-economy models, including but not only the
Second, we have to strengthen the integration of the energy market and I
very much welcome the proposal of the revised Directive to further
encourage cross border cooperation on renewable energy projects. This is
crucial in order to achieve an integrated, decarbonised and decentralised
energy system. However, for regions to unlock their full potential in the
new energy landscape, the EU must deploy further support to boost renewable
energy projects involving local and regional authorities across borders
beyond those planned under the TEN-E framework.
Third, we must become the world leaders in green hydrogen and incentivise
the development of the clean-hydrogen market. Together with other
sustainable carriers – hydrogen is to play a key role in the energy
transition. While green hydrogen should be the priority, low-carbon
hydrogen could be used for decarbonisation purposes, as a transitional
solution until green hydrogen is sufficiently available at affordable
The CoR opinion "
Amending the Renewable Energy Directive to meet the new 2030
was adopted during the April plenary Session and is a priority
dossier of the CoR's
Green Deal Going Local
(GDGL) working group. Launched in
composed of 13 local and regional elected representatives
, the GDGL working group has the objective to guarantee that EU cities and
regions are directly involved in the definition, implementation and
assessment of the numerous initiatives that fall under the European Green
Deal, the EU's sustainable growth strategy to reach climate-neutrality by
The main points of the
- supports the raising of the 2030 renewable energy target and the fact
that all sectors should contribute to it, and stresses that a massive and
rapid expansion of renewables is crucial to achieving the EU's climate
targets and strengthening the affordability and security of supply of the
EU energy system;
- advocates a flexible and balanced approach to renewable energy targets
that promotes the continued development of technologies and provides
certainty for investors, while maintaining EU competitiveness and ensuring
a sustainable and equitable transition;
- stresses the importance of ensuring coherence between legislative texts
under the 'Fit for 55' package and maintaining the 'energy efficiency
first' principle and technology neutrality in order to achieve net zero
emissions by 2050 in the most sustainable and cost-effective way;
- points out that the competences of local and regional authorities in the
European Union are not uniform and decisions should be taken at the level
of governance that offers the most efficient solution.