Backtrack in Strasbourg as MEPs Compromise on Energy Efficiency
The European Parliament has abandoned its long-held 40% energy efficiency target at the final hurdle, after political groups opted on Wednesday (17 January) to back a binding 35% goal for 2030 instead.
MEPs decided to choose the safe option and agree on one position ahead of talks with the Commission and member states but it meant downgrading its efficiency ambitions.
But they were able to preserve an all-important energy savings goal of 1.5% under Article 7 of the draft report and include the transport sector for the first time. EU climate chief Miguel Arias Cañete welcomed the result, pledging to help secure an “ambitious agreement” in talks with the member states.
German Socialist MEP Martina Werner said the outcome was “a big disappointment, as the Parliament has given up of its ambitious 40% target for the first time” but was hopeful that the result still shows that the institution is “serious about the energy transition”.
The result is a double-edged sword as it represents two milestones: the Parliament’s first shift to 35% and the EPP group’s first commitment to moving up from its previously rigid 30% position.
Wednesday’s vote was difficult to call before MEPs arrived in the hemicycle as the S&D, helmed by Czech MEP Miroslav Poche, and the EPP, under the guidance of German counterpart Markus Pieper, were unable to compromise on the fundamental aspects of the file.
After the vote, the EPP man was happy that his colleagues had rejected the “out-of-this-world” 40% target and said the agreed text is “a good start” with which to enter trilateral negotiations, an opinion shared by Greens/EFA shadow Jávor Benedek.
The Hungarian MEP called on climate chief Cañete after the vote to support the Parliament’s freshly adopted position and help convince the member states to back “at least” 35%.
@javorbenedek: “@MAC_europa ambitious outcome in the context of the leaked @IPCC_CH report could only mean to endorse the #EPlenary position of at least 35% – negotiations need to take the planet first!”
Poche thanked his colleagues for granting him a “strong mandate” after 485 MEPs voted in favour, with only 132 rejecting the text and 58 abstaining.
Poche, who replaced his predecessor Adam Gierek in December, will now represent the Parliament in the upcoming negotiations, where he will have to convince the member states that they should increase their 30% position.