OPP Meeting Summary: Energy Council – The energy sector beyond 2030: towards climate neutrality (24 September 2019)

A summary of the policy debate is now available.

Energy Council – 24 September 2019
The energy sector beyond 2030: Towards climate neutrality
– Exchange of views

Finnish Presidency

  • decarbonising the electricity sector and the use of energy would be one the crucial challenges for the EU to deal with. The Finnish Presidency wanted to discuss how to achieve climate neutrality in the energy sector, possible incentives, and the opportunities that had been identified in the Member States (MS);
  • the Finnish Presidency hoped that the Council would be able to have an open and future-orientated dialogue on the necessary transition for the energy sector.

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for the Energy Union

  • technology was important, but there also needed to be the political courage to support further technological innovations;
  • the way electricity was traded needed to change. With the new rules on the electricity market design, he believed that the EU would be able to support new key technologies and measures. He mentioned new smart grids and better energy storage in this regard, as well as the use of blockchain in electricity trading;
  • he stressed that clean mobility would depend on new technologies such as batteries and hydrogen. These were the areas which required not only political attention from policy makers, but also financial support;
  • he believed that the EU needed to begin to look beyond 2030. The EU should already begin to consider what could be done with gas pipeline systems and he suggested that they could be use for the transportation of electricity and hydrogen in the future. Insufficient cable coverage in some MS was causing problems;
  • he hoped to continue his collaboration with the Council in new role as Vice-President of the Commission for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight. Decisions in the field of energy that would be made in 2019 that would have a huge impact for the coming decades.


  • Germany thanked the Finnish Presidency for holding the debate, and stated that it would give an impetus for new developments;
  • Germany stressed that it was important to take into account the lessons learned from existing measures when looking beyond 2030;
  • Germany would be phasing coal and lignite out by 2038, promoting renewable energy and emphasising the importance of energy efficiency because the best way to protect the climate was to ‘not use energy at all’;
  • Germany would also be introducing carbon pricing for the non-ETS sectors, as Germany believed that efficiencies and innovation could be promoted through this;
  • the electricity sector would largely depend on offshore wind energy. Germany referred to the 2030 renewables targets and the post-2030 greenhouse gas emissions reductions in this regard;
  • environmental protection needed to be taken into account. Individual Member States (MS) needed to ensure that their actions took into account the cross-border aspects;
  • the 2020 German Presidency would be seeking to promote North Sea cooperation projects. It was crucial to have an integrated European grid;
  • a stable and reliable EU framework was necessary for offshore projects. This implied that costs and benefits needed to be evenly distributed, and Germany would welcome legislation from the new Commission on this issue as soon as possible;
  • gas, particularly renewable gas, would play an important role in the energy transition;
  • preconditions needed to be established for the use of LNG as well as hydrogen. Germany was holding a gas dialogue with stakeholders and stressed that the whole chain (infrastructure and usage) needed to be considered;
  • Germany wanted to assess the potential and challenges of hydrogen;
  • many issues would need a common approach across the EU, and Germany mentioned infrastructure standards in this regard;
  • the goal of carbon-neutrality by 2050 implied focus on industry. Germany stated that storage and usage of carbon could help the EU achieve their targets;
  • Germany wanted to promote research and development in the area. Climate technologies and their acceptance would be a discussion with all relevant stakeholders;
  • Germany respected the right of all MS to decide on their own energy mixes but stressed that any technologies used in decarbonisation needed to be safe and sustainable;
  • Germany believed that nuclear energy was not safe or sustainable, nor cost effective and therefore rejected the idea of EU funds being used to extend the use of nuclear power stations.


  • achieving climate-neutrality in the EU entailed various levels of challenges for the MS;
  • Poland had been making modernisation efforts in its energy sector since 1989 and wanted to continue to modernise to limit emissions from the energy sector. Poland stressed that this needed to be an evolutionary process, and stated that there was a lack of funding for the acceleration of the modernisation process;
  • from the Polish perspective, the Commission’s vision of climate-neutrality by 2050 was very ambitious. Implementation would be very challenging for many countries, including Poland;
  • across the EU, MS needed to take into account 3 fundamental issues in the development of their economies:
    • ensuring the security of energy supply;
    • maintaining the competitiveness of the economy;
    • reducing emissions;
  • Poland stressed the high costs of the planned energy transition;
  • the EU was entering the final phase of the negotiations on the post-2020 MFF. According to initial estimates, the total cost of the transition to zero emissions by 2050 in Poland would be in the range of 750 billion to 900 billion EUR;
  • the social costs of the planned changes should not be forgotten. Poland had always stressed the need to ensure a just transition;
  • Poland called for the long-term strategy to take into account the impact on regions that were dependent on the use of coal;
  • Poland stated that a climate-neutral Europe could not be achieved on the basis of renewable energy only and called for the use of nuclear energy which was taken into account in the Polish energy plans.


  • Luxembourg stressed that deciding by when the EU should phase out old infrastructures dependent on fossil fuels was important;
  • nuclear energy was two to four times more expensive than renewables. Luxembourg did not believe that it was a real alternative, and the focus should be on energy efficiency and renewables;
  • regarding efficiency, Luxembourg stressed the importance of not underestimating the renovation of buildings. It was not only about financing, but also about new business models;
  • Luxembourg believed that each MS should have a centre of excellence for renovation, and that this should be financed by the Commission. The Commission should also help create networks;
  • the current standards for ventilation and air-to-air heat pumps were not good enough. Luxembourg needed to speed up the work regarding ecodesign;
  • on long-term modelling, digitalisation was shown to a positive impact on the climate, but it could also aggravate the situation. It depended on how energy efficient data centres would be, and Luxembourg called on the Commission take more action on data centres;
  • regarding renewables, Luxembourg stated that it was “all about” offshore wind;
  • Luxembourg stressed that spatial planning experts across the EU should be brought together as they had an important role to play;
  • offshore wind from the Baltic sea should also be explored;
  • the Commission needed to do more on floating offshore wind;
  • ENTSO-E needed to do more on the integration of offshore wind;
  • regarding hydrogen, Luxembourg stressed that electrolyzers were not yet efficient enough;
  • Luxembourg also mentioned the industrial policy dimension, which included issues such as zero-carbon steel and the protection of European industries against dumping;
  • the programme of the new Commission did not have any reflections on the global dimension of the energy transition. The EU was a champion, but it was too inward looking.


  • limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, in line with the Paris agreement, would require an unprecedented transformation of society and behaviour, as well as a reduction of emissions across all sectors of activity;
  • in this respect, Portugal in 2016 had committed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and in July, they had adopted a long-term strategy that enshrined this commitment in law;
  • Portugal’s roadmap for carbon neutrality and NECP would be the two fundamental instruments for climate action and the energy transition over the coming years. Furthermore, this would contribute to greater security and certainty for investors;
  • in order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the energy sector must be fully decarbonised, including electricity production and urban transport. There would have to be fundamental changes to the way in which energy and resources were used, aiming for an economy supplied by renewable energy and based on resource efficiency and the circular economy;
  • in order to fully decarbonise the energy system, coal-fuelled electricity production must also be eliminated by 2023. Full decarbonisation of the electricity sector by 2050 would also require a significant increase in energy efficiency across all sectors, in addition to the use of more locally produced renewables;
  • there would also need to be a progressive democratisation of energy production and the decarbonisation of electricity in the residential sector;
  • the decarbonisation of transport, both public and the transport of goods was also highlighted;
  • Portugal also stressed the importance of a socially fair transition that did not risk jobs and growth;
  • on the subject of investment, Portugal were surprised that certain MS had positioned the need for this as a problem rather than an opportunity. For Portugal, this was an opportunity and investment was essential;
  • finally, a carbon adjustment tax was crucial to create a level playing field. This was not about contravening free trade rules but about creating the necessary conditions to ensure commitments could be met and implemented. The taxation of coal would benefit businesses developing renewables. Portugal stressed that targets must be consistent and there was a need to avoid social dumping in third countries.


  • it was known what the energy transition to 2030 would look like and the EU would have to strengthen policies in order to reduce emissions as agreed;
  • as of 2030 and up to full decarbonisation by 2050, there would be a number of new challenges unlike those that were currently being experienced. Spain stressed that the industrial sector in particular (excluding electricity), the transport of goods (especially for long-distance journeys), residential buildings and aviation were all areas that would need to be overhauled;
  • in terms of the electricity sector, decarbonisation was necessary but to achieve this, technological developments were needed as well as mechanisms to make electricity supply, generation and demand more flexible;
  • as stressed by Luxembourg, the development of key storages areas was also vital. In Spain’s view, up until now, the EU had not sufficiently developed storage technologies. Asian countries in particular were making significant progress here;
  • hydrogen was also being developed and advancing well in Asia;
  • both above factors were key in terms of storage capacity and also the capability to transition towards renewables, particularly with regards to solar and wind;
  • in particular, it was stressed again the significant issues with regard to industry, aviation and maritime transport, as well as the transport of heavy goods;
  • Spain underscored the need for renewable fuels, biofuels and hydrogen as mentioned previously, as well as synthetic fuels. Hence the need for significant efforts in terms of technological development and research and innovation in Europe in order to create European solutions, enabling the EU to play a leadership role on the global stage;
  • fundamental behavioural change by citizens was also required;
  • a number of specific aims would need to met with regards to the development of technologies as well as the phasing out of certain technologies and transport modes;
  • finally, Spain placed emphasis again on the importance of a strategy for science, innovation and research and development which would need to be defined in order to achieve carbon neutral energy systems. Existing EU funding programmes would need to be utilised and should therefore be boosted.


  • Greece was in favour of carbon neutrality by 2050 and expressed support for accelerating collective actions to achieve this;
  • it would be difficult to achieve carbon neutrality without taking more ambitious actions beyond 2030. Without policy change from the 2030 scenario, GHG emissions would only be reduced by 60% by 2050. This figure demonstrated the gap that needed to be filled, from 60-100%;
  • required measures had been announced in the previous session. In this session, Greece placed emphasis on necessary measures to fill the gap from 2030-2050. These were:
    1. more regional cooperation and interconnections. MS could not be isolated on this journey. As Germany had called for more offshore cooperation in the North, Greece hoped for more offshore cooperation in renewables in the South. Initiatives had been lacking in this area;
    2. the notion of energy security must be strengthened around the subject of renewable energy, and external sources of energy use be diversified further;
    3. collective action must be maximised to “get out of coal” over the period defined by each MS. The EU must provide support to achieve the decarbonisation of electricity systems;
    4. innovation was also crucial. Greece called on the new Commission to connect energy innovation and a new industrial policy, including solutions for energy intensive industries. The battery alliance initiative was proof that Europe could act fast if actors worked together;
    5. international developments must also be monitored, as mentioned by Luxembourg, this included competitor companies. EU measures should be taken when required to protect EU companies and systems;
    6. finally, a just transition, affordable to citizens was vital;
  • in conclusion, Greece invited Energy Ministers to a high level event in Athens next year to adopt a declaration on the protection of cultural and natural heritage from climate change impacts;
  • in Greece’s view, the EU could look forward to a new golden age for the European economy, based on a new Green Deal.


  • reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 was an environmental and economic necessity. IPCC and Commission scenarios showed that net-zero could be achieved with a variety of measures ranging from renewables to nuclear;
  • three critical long-term aspects in the transition to carbon neutrality by 2050 were highlighted by Sweden:
    1. the electrification of transport and industry. This was both a challenge and a business opportunity. For transport, the same could be said about advanced biofuels. Phasing out all fossil fuels would demand major electrification of the energy system. Such a transformation would require improvements in distribution networks and interconnections, together with well-functioning electricity markets, correct price signals and increased flexibility. The Nordic electricity market set a positive example;
    2. the cost of emitting GHG emissions must increase and become a strong commercial driver for new products and services. Sweden had introduced a carbon tax back in 1991. In their experience, it was a cost-effective instrument that supported industry-driven development. 30 years later, all political parties in Sweden were in agreement on the issue of a carbon tax;
    3. finally, a binding decision on carbon neutrality by 2050 would provide investors with long-term certainty and create an opportunity for industry to be at the forefront in sectors where global demand would increase dramatically, R&D, together with cost-effective market-driven incentives would support innovation and enable regional industries to exploit opportunities;
  • finally, ambitions for the economy must be higher than limiting costs. Sweden looked forward to the Commission’s Green New Deal.


  • Croatia supported climate neutrality by 2050 and had developed a draft low-carbon development strategy for the period up to 2030 with a view to 2050;
  • the energy sector was one of the most intensive sectors with regards to the transition to a clean economy. As already mentioned, the NECPs and energy strategy until 2030 were being finalised. These documents demonstrated that the decarbonisation of the energy sector was the main goal;
  • important factors on the road to climate neutrality and decarbonisation included the development of technology and funding at the EU level, required to ensure the implementation of necessary measures. Focus should be placed on these issues in the upcoming period;
  • strong incentives should be provided for both the development of new technologies as well as the better application of existing ones;
  • primarily, this meant strengthening the potential of renewables. However, at the moment Croatia particularly supported the exploration of hydrogen development and the disposal of CO2 in geological structures. Croatia supported their further development after 2030 and believed there was great potential for them;
  • in addition, possibilities in the area of fusion should be taken into account more;
  • the possibility of achieving carbon neutrality in areas such as islands needed to considered. These areas had unique systems and could be drivers of decarbonisation. The just energy transition should also be kept in mind as regards the utilisation of the potential of islands, which represented a type of isolated system, ideal for the development of innovative technologies. Croatia would pay special attention to this during their Presidency;
  • finally, the development of more technologies could secure the position of the EU as a world leader in fighting climate change.


  • Latvia fully supported the decarbonisation of the EU’s economy and climate neutrality by 2050. They were looking forward to the political agreement on this issue by the end of the year;
  • as mentioned by the Vice-President, public acceptance was one of the key elements required in order to move forward. Latvia considered public involvement as an untapped resource not only in terms of promoting involvement in energy efficiency but also providing easy solutions in national legislation and incentives to take part in the production of renewable energy;
  • research and development were also important in order to find the next market-driven solutions to benefit all MS;
  • the economy and fairness must always be kept in mind;
  • housing was a major challenge for Latvia and other former Soviet states. They would need renovation and for this, a suitable financing framework was a must-have;
  • electrification, energy storage, sector coupling and connecting infrastructure between MS were also key elements for a safe and sustainable solution;
  • to achieve climate neutrality, horizontal efforts from all sectors were needed, but the biggest challenges and must-have contributions were required from the transport and energy sector.


  • as mentioned in the previous session, Belgium fully supported carbon neutrality by 2050. Furthermore, Belgium was working actively to achieve this, as outlined in its NECP;
  • in order to achieve the EU target in question, across the board measures were needed, in addition to the integration and coupling of sectors such as energy, transport, buildings and industry;
  • sources of energy such as electricity and hydrogen were referenced and the chance to effectively make headway in these areas;
  • on the subject of renewables, Belgium was progressing considerably well in the area of offshore wind in the North Sea and were innovating;
  • in addition, Belgium stressed the importance of improving energy efficiency. Consumption habits would have to change in order to achieve carbon neutrality. In this regard, money would be needed in order to help consumers, both individuals and businesses;
  • the challenge after 2030 would be to integrate growing quantities of intermittent energy. This would require progress in terms of flexibility;
  • according to Belgium, the full potential of energy storage, hydrogen, sustainable transport and energy exchanges must also be explored through research and development;
  • as regards financing, there was a need for a taxonomy and a phase out of subsidies for sources that were harmful to the climate. There was also a need to ensure that financial flows were compatible with Paris objectives;
  • access to finance for small-scale projects created by smaller companies should also be improved, whether at the R&D pilot phase or more operational;
  • in terms of best practice, Belgium was keen on regional exchanges and supported a continuation of this. This cooperation should be fostered beyond 2030.


  • with regards to the transition, precise long-term objectives and feasible technological solutions involving all sectors of the economy were required;
  • concerning the energy sector, Italy was looking at various options based on renewables and energy efficiency. In order to achieve carbon neutrality, a range of solutions would need to be balanced, also ensuring the lowest level of cost for businesses and citizens and the highest level of accessibility;
  • in this regard, as part of the revision of the Renewables Directive and revision of the gas market, it could be useful to consider how to broaden cooperation with third countries in terms of renewables;
  • MS needed guidance in terms of areas to work in. Certain actions should be done at the European level to create a critical mass and ensure economies of scale;
  • the long-term strategy, with ambitious targets in the short-term, should be adapted to take into account research and development. Private investment should be encouraged;
  • in the transition process, energy storage systems would play an important role. It was necessary to take account of the national specificities and different electricity systems in the MS, whilst ensuring equal treatment of the MS;
  • strategically speaking, Italy would support technological developments for power to gas systems. They also wanted to accumulate on a large-scale, different renewable sources and supported hydrogen in order to provide safe and secure energy for Europe;
  • the renovation of buildings and quality of life, provided at the lowest cost for citizens were other factors that needed to be taken into account;
  • in order to meet 2050 targets, emissions from non-energy sectors (including buildings, transport and industrial processes) should also be considered. Full decarbonisation of the energy sector alone would not solve the climate problem. Discussions should take place which included all stakeholders involved.


  • France referenced the recently concluded climate summit in New York. Discussions on the matter had been progressing for a long time in the EU and would need to continue, speed up and focus on strengthening implementation through the use of existing tools such as the ETS and development of funding for the transition;
  • the transition must begin straightaway in order to avoid postponing the reduction of GHG emissions until after 2030. For this reason, France was fully supportive of the Green Deal guidelines which would include a consideration of competitiveness, a carbon mechanism in trade agreements and the strengthening of the role of the EIB in climate projects. In order to achieve climate neutrality in the energy system, specific levers and measures were needed including:
    1. energy efficiency and a reduction in energy consumption, primarily fossil fuels which would need to be drastically cut and eventually eliminated from the energy mix, coal in particular. Natural gas could continue for a while but would eventually have to be replaced as well. France would be closing its first coal-fired power stations in 2020 and would be decreasing its gas consumption by 19% by 2028 (compared to 2012). Certain sectors would also have to make a special effort, transport in particular, through electrification and hydrogen. The building sector was also crucial. France shared the goal of renovating all buildings by 2050 to improve their energy efficiency and promote the use of bio-sourced materials in renovations and new-builds;
    2. the energy system must be based on decarbonised energy sources which meant a major roll-out of renewables. In order to do this, certain sectors would need support mechanisms. There would need to be calls for proposals for specific technologies, as mentioned previously;
    3. nuclear energy produced decarbonised energy and must be part of MS means of achieving targets;
    4. the recently adopted Clean Energy Package was referred to. There was a need for better integration of European markets and better interconnections which would help MS to benefit from the growing production of renewables in Europe, thus improving the security of supply of decarbonised sources of energy;
    5. in the long-term, storage capacities would need to be strengthened and a range of technologies for storage would need to be developed. More effort was required in R&D in storage for fourth generation batteries (as launched by VP Sefcovic)
    6. finally, France supported the building of a European hydrogen industry.


  • the energy transition would play a key role in reaching climate neutrality in Europe as it emitted 75% of GHGs;
  • the good news was that climate neutrality technologies were already the most competitive options;
  • 3 areas that should be worked on within the next 5 years to lay the foundations of a climate neutral energy system would be;
    1. they must commit to a rapid phase-out of coal and move towards full-scale deployment of renewable energy. An effective price on carbon emissions would be important to make this change possible. Regional cooperation would also be key. Denmark would develop a North Sea strategy so as to fully exploit the offshore wind potential in the North Sea. They were also looking into the possibility of establishing an energy hub. They would be happy to share experiences – also those in the Baltic Sea region;
    2. increased electrification, a focus on storage options, and converting surplus renewable electricity into other energy carriers such as hydrogen and green fuels. This could help sectors such as aviation, shipping, heavy transport, and industry. Denmark encouraged the new Commission to submit strategies on these key areas;
    3. the decarbonisation of the energy usage in transport continued to pose a great challenge. They needed to do more together. For example, agree on a strategy for a zero emission fleet for passenger cars by agreeing a phase-out of the sale of new diesel and petrol cars. They would also raise this point in the Environment Council;
  • the EU’s success had been built on targets that afforded certainty for investors. Climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest would be crucial. The EU needed to show leadership and take the opportunities that would come from the transition.


  • countries around the Mediterranean had already faced the consequences of climate change;
  • the economy needed to be both carbon neutral and prosperous;
  • they must not endanger security of supply;
  • energy storage and new technologies would be crucial;
  • for some industries such as aluminium and cement there were no alternatives other than natural gas so it was not possible to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach;
  • Cyprus called for the continuation of financing instruments for connectivity and R&D;
  • the CEF and EIB should continue to support natural gas;
  • the clean energy initiative should continue to support the islands of the EU;
  • the just transition fund would be crucial to move from coal and liquid fuel to cleaner technologies;
  • Cyprus raised concerns about the promotion of nuclear energy being EU policy to achieve carbon neutrality. The use of nuclear should always follow the specific standards in order to avoid any accidents.


  • Lithuania welcomed maintaining the ambition of the Paris Agreement;
  • climate mitigation should see impact assessments on the entire national economy as opposed to only certain sectors;
  • they welcomed the just transition fund;
  • renewables and less energy consumption would be crucial;
  • when green technology was used, they would need to ensure it was price efficient for consumers;
  • they believed the big growth post-2030 would be the so-called ‘prosumer’ market and this was rapidly growing in Lithuania;
  • ambitious climate goals would need to ensure that prosumers were not faced with competition from third-countries and they cautioned against environmental dumping. They encouraged the Commission to tackle carbon leakage in the electricity market.


  • they welcomed the steps that would be needed to move to carbon neutrality beyond 2020 and had 4 central points;
    1. green hydrogen would offer the highest potential as an energy carrier. Hydrogen would be an important enabler for many applications in the new energy system. It could serve as fuel, feedstock, storage, and transportation. They invited the Commission to develop an ambitious EU hydrogen action plan;
    2. CCS (carbon capture and storage) would be an important player, especially in industry. However, currently the cross-border international transport of CO2 for offshore storage was not allowed. To overcome this barrier for the deployment of CCS as a climate mitigation tool, Norway and the Netherlands had put together a proposal to be discussed at the London Protocol meeting in early October. The Netherlands “stressed the importance of finding a solution to this legal issue“;
    3. large-scale offshore wind projects would be crucial and many colleagues had stressed this. The acceleration of such projects would need new types of cross-border projects and interconnections. Green hydrogen would be needed. “It would not be copper lines that would save us but hydrogen“;
    4. carbon pricing would be key and the ETS needed to be strengthened and business cases must be produced around the green new deal;
  • they reiterated the need for the Commission to act on the 4 proposals.


  • a bespoke approach for each MS would be needed;
  • key would be the same rules for all;
  • nuclear would need to be part of the energy mix and it would be essential for MS to display an equal level of commitment to achieving climate goals.


  • all sectors would need to contribute;
  • Malta was currently drafting a mitigation and adaptation climate strategy. Measures were still being analysed and the plan would be published in 2020;
  • a just transition would require both EU and government funds;
  • Malta stressed that islands must be taken into account and warned against a one-size-fits-all approach;
  • they recalled the Valletta declaration of 2017.


  • success would rely on combining renewable energy sources and integrating hydrogen whilst also fostering energy efficiency;
  • Austria believe the Commission should set out a path past 2050 that did not contain nuclear energy;
  • Austria stressed the need to reduce overall energy consumption;
  • fluctuating renewable energy sources would need to be properly integrated. Systems that had been separated would need to be coupled;
  • hydrogen and power-to-gas would be important components. Greening gas was something that was becoming increasingly important in Europe;
  • renewable gas would play an important role in the building and the transport sectors;
  • a well-functioning internal market would be key;
  • the Commission would need to place green gases at the centre of its policies;
  • Horizon funds, the ETS, and the CEF would need to find synergies.


  • Hungary acknowledged the success of the past 3 decades;
  • 3 main policy pillars would be important;
    • strengthening the market, do not wish to endanger security of supply, and move gradually and credibly towards goals;
  • the present Commission had taken the above approach;
  • Hungary raised concerns that some MS had not made improvements in comparison with 1990 and had failed to grasp the low-hanging fruit since the fall of the Berlin wall;
  • they should ask themselves if they had policies that were credible beyond 2030;
  • the role to full decarbonisation of the EU electricity sector “would be bumpy and have several obstacles“;
  • there was a dispute between 100% renewables and being technology neutral. Hungary believed nuclear should play a role in the EU energy mix;
  • the phasing out simultaneously of both coal and nuclear would create an “almost mission impossible situation” and could create a painful political divide of the Union;
  • Hungary raised concerns about an over-reliance on Russia;
  • they called for investment in energy storage solutions.


  • Ireland welcomed the opportunity for further engagement as they strove towards carbon neutrality;
  • the enabling framework for 2050 must build on work already underway. Ireland endorsed a net-zero target by 2050 and were eager to adopt a strategy consistent with this scenario;
  • MS would have different pathways. In assessing these pathways they would need to take into account both national constraints and technology whilst also acknowledging some technological developments were or would be more cost-effective;
  • floating offshore was a source of potential development in the future;
  • he agreed with his colleague from Luxembourg regarding buildings and also noted that construction waste could be decreased.


  • the future energy system needed to be safe, affordable, and sustainable. Public support would be needed;
  • investment – both public and private – would be needed to ensure systems were better interconnected, modern, smart and cost-effective;
  • gas, electricity, heating and cooling, were all sectors that would require investment;
  • the technology neutral principle must be fully respected;
  • by 2030 it would be crucial that old energy systems were phased out and replaced whilst also at the same time ensuing the energy mix was diversified and balanced;
  • access to finance would be crucial as would affordability for citizens.


  • they thanked the Presidency for organising the debate with such interesting questions;
  • climate neutrality would be challenging. Nuclear needed to remain an option and national specificities must be respected;
  • Slovakia welcomed success stories from other MS and were also happy to share their own success stories;
  • the Ministry of Economy had signed 22 voluntary agreements with companies from manufacturing, processing, and the energy industry, including the biggest energy consumers in Slovakia;
  • they were also doing very well as regards the area of building renovation. More than 67% of blocks of flats had been renovated which was achieved via state funds. If they continued with the current level of support – and their intention was to do so – they would renovate all blocks of flats by 2029;
  • regarding nuclear, Slovakia acknowledged the differences of opinions between MS. The safe use of nuclear was a pre-condition for climate neutrality in several MS. Slovakia had invested in nuclear and they were willing to share their expertise. The role of nuclear should be recognised in all strategies. It should be viewed as a sustainable investment within the taxonomy.


  • Bulgaria highlighted the need to respect national specificities;
  • they should build on current commitments whilst ensuring competitiveness;
  • they were in favour of nuclear energy and stressed the need for nuclear energy to be used only under the strictest levels of compliance and safety;
  • 46% of electricity in Bulgaria was generated by coal-fired plants and this represented a challenge. The use of lignite coal in line with EU standards would be important;
  • in 2018 compared to 2017, Bulgaria reduced emissions from fossil fuels by 8.1%;
  • for countries with a high level of coal in their energy mix a high level of investment would be needed;
  • a social transition would be crucial and would beed to be financed to encourage the reforms;
  • carbon leakage would need to be taken into account to ensure a fair transition.


  • the transition would require their full attention and innovative solutions;
  • the MS specific situation and their unique starting point should be taken into account;
  • 3 important aspects for Estonia would be ;
    1. climate neutrality should not lead to a decrease in competitiveness. It would be worth considering whether a carbon-border tax could be a suitable measure;
    2. they should not restrict energy sources that offered a quick and affordable transition, such as natural gas;
    3. a just transition for fossil fuel dependent regions. For Estonia this was oil shale. Estonia were the only EU country mining this fossil fuel.


  • all MS must choose their own pathway to decarbonisation;
  • the transition should be affordable and secure. It should be socially fair and acceptable for all;
  • no technology that could help reach these goals should be disqualified, including nuclear;
  • sufficient financial incentives would be needed and coal-dependent regions would need to be protected;
  • they would need to work with their partners outside of the EU if reducing the EU’s emissions was to have a global impact.

VP Sefcovic

  • he thanked the Ministers for their overwhelming support for the future green deal and for the ambitious mid-century target. Both political determination and technological and financial means would be required and he thanked all the Ministers for highlighting the roles of different technologies which could bring them to their end goal;
  • by 2040, data centres were forecast to consume almost 40% of global electricity and this would be a challenge;
  • he underlined the possibility of using the high-heat from the steel sector for hydrogen;
  • many technologies were existing today. The key would be to scale them up;
  • to focus their minds they would need to consider the mega-trends. He believed they could be inspired by their work on the European battery alliance. They would need the best industries to come together. Political will, a legal framework, and appropriate investment would be needed;
  • he agreed there efforts must contain a “global dimension” and by this he meant they must ensure public procurement rewarded EU companies and did not sue “dirty” energy from outside of the EU. He was a “strong supporter of a carbon-border tax.

Finnish Presidency

  • many delegations had expressed the challenges and the opportunities towards climate neutrality and both sides of the same coin would need to be discussed further;
  • the Presidency believed that there had been “agreement that there would not be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution“;
  • the debate had shown that various enablers existed to facilitate the transition and of course the transition would need to be “just”;
  • cooperation at a regional level and exchange of information would be crucial.

The simultaneous interpretation of debates provided by the EU institutions serves only to facilitate communication amongst the participants in the meeting. It does not constitute an authentic record of proceedings. One Policy Place uses these translations so this text is only a guide and should not be relied on as an official account of the meeting. Only the original speech or the revised written translation of that speech is authentic.

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