Támogasd Te is küzdelmünket a zöld és igazságos jövőért!

Democracy in Hungary

Thank you, Madame President!

Originally, I was going to talk about something else; however, fellow representatives Mr. Szájer and Mr. Kósa laid false accusations against Hungarian NGOs; therefore, I must respond. The charges involved in the investigation against Hungarian NGOs change on a weekly basis; neither the prosecutor nor the police, nor even the government knows what they are looking for; they are just desperate to find something. Only one thing is certain in connection with these investigations, my fellow representatives; namely, that the KEHI-investigation against NGOs was unlawful; the KEHI did not have the authority to conduct an investigation in these organizations. The Hungarian government’s violation of the law is the only evidence. And this proves, better than anything, how democracy functions in Hungary and how the Hungarian government operates. And respected colleagues, let me call your attention to one more thing: this debate is not about the Hungarian government or about Hungary exclusively. What is currently happening in Hungary, and what the European institutions do not act upon, can serve as an example for the aspirations of other political forces in other member states, as well. Respected Fidesz representatives, this includes political forces that you might not agree with, either.

Thank you!

Moving beyond GDP in European economic governance high level expert conference

organized by DG ENVI in cooperation with the Italian Presidency of the Council

10 Oct 2014


Expert debate – input from MEP Benedek JÁVOR


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this important discussion.

To reflect on the debate’s main question, not only do I think that the beyond GDP agenda may help improve policies, but in my presentation I would like to demonstrate why I believe it is an essential element for reformulating EU policies. I envisage a policy reform process integrating beyond GDP approach based on three distinct building blocks:

  1. We need proper signals not only on the performance of our economies, but also on social aspects, state of the environment and the citizens’ well-being, as well as information on potential synergies and trade-offs of our policies.
  2. We need systematic evaluation of existing polices covering all the above aspects to be able to assess the real effects, the real added value as well as to point out the shortcomings allowing us to improve our policies.
  3. By improving I mean making our policies more forward looking and more sustainable, incorporating the needs of future generations as well.  In this respect, political willingness and citizens’ involvement are essential.

Thus, I will present my ideas around these 3 blocks, which I call the 3 ‘S’s: signals, systematic policy evaluation and stakeholders engagement.

First, let’s discuss the issue of sending the right policy signals. I highly welcome the European Commission’s efforts in compiling information on the existing initiatives to go beyond measuring economic growth. As previous speakers pointed out, measurement of social development and environmental issues are essential to sound and long-term policies. What we need, is to bring the above elements together. We need signals and answers around the questions of quality of life, well-being, progress and social cohesion as well as transition to a green economy.

Let’s have a look at the European Semester as an example. The Semester is not merely a mechanism of economic and fiscal policy coordination. It offers a potentially powerful tool by which we can monitor Member States’ progress on various issues, including environmental ones, in the context of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The iterative working method and the country specific recommendations of the process which help us better align national efforts with EU policy objectives.
However, as for the implementation, the process lacks comprehensive consideration of environmental (as well as social) measures, only a few environmental issues are covered (e.g tax reform, transport infrastructure, better energy market design, renewable energy) while others, such as biodiversity, air pollution, water and waste management, resource efficiency and eco-innovation are side-lined or entirely absent.
With regard to the economic and financial context of recent years, the dominant focus of the Semester process, namely resolving the economic crisis is perhaps not surprising. However, let me remind you that European Semester is a tool to implement the Europe 2020 Strategy which has wider objectives embedded in the EU environmental acquis, including inter alia climate change, energy and resource efficiency related objectives.
In order to improve economic governance and to successfully leave the economic crisis behind, longer term perspective is of fundamental importance.  In terms of monitoring we should go beyond refining the macroeconomic imbalances scorecard, and complement it with social and environmental, natural resource indicators.

Here I would like to mention a policy-oriented  exercise that I was involved in: a complex, Green Scorecard was drawn up for Hungary, www.greenscorecard.hu, attempting to give an overall picture of various challenges ranging from resource use and climate change to state of human capital (education, health) and state of democracy. The idea was to go beyond single indicators (reflecting silo-thinking) and give an overall assessment of the performance of policies from sustainability point of view. We wish to further develop the scorecard and it would be useful to make it for other EU Member States as well.

This brings me to my second point, the need for evaluation, and if necessary revision, of all EU policies with the help of the ‘beyond GDP’ agenda.

As I said, the European Semester process should better support sustainability objectives by further integrating these considerations and by supporting the implementation of these wide-scope recommendations.
We must make the best use of the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 Strategy and ensure its better alignment with wider EU strategic documents including the 7th Environment Action Programme and the Resource Efficiency Roadmap.
Policy coherence, long term thinking and sustainability should be guiding principles for the revision and improvement of other European policy processes.
In more general terms, we need green investments and actions that have an effect on our everyday life by contributing to the creation of jobs, combatting poverty and rebuilding social justice.

To give you a timely example, the EU is formulating its future energy policy where currently we see problems both in terms of the level of ambition and comprehensiveness. I have always stressed the need for a new Climate and Energy Package with 3 intertwined, ambitious targets (on GHG emissions, energy efficiency and renewables) both at EU and Member States level. Our renewed energy policy, should be addressing the issues of affordability, accessibility, security and sustainability of the energy system at the same time.

Within this framework, security is again a highly complex issue. The European Energy Security Strategy (to which I act as shadow rapporteur) in its current form has an extremely narrow focus, aiming only at diversification and improvement of the infrastructure and not leaving the fossil fuel domain.

In my view, the strategy should take into consideration the potential security gains from energy efficiency and renewables measures. It should help combatting energy poverty, help households reaching energy savings and energy autonomy. It should also result in a decentralisation of the energy systems (bringing a new balance between consumers and providers and improving system resilience).

This example clearly demonstrates the need for holistic and long term approaches in policy making, which could be facilitated by beyond GDP efforts. A consistent follow-up process which reflects lessons learnt from previous policy cycles is also indispensable.

However, there is still a third, equally important component for successfully improving our policies: political willingness, ownership and engagement of our stakeholders.  To succeed in the above mentioned cases, or in any other policy field, we obviously need bold action by policymakers and a stakeholder engagement. The first two building blocks, signals (information on economic, societal, environmental processes) as well as systematic assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency and added value of our policies can help creating political will and mobilize citizens. We need to reshape our policies and reach out to the general public, help them understand the various effects EU policies can have on their daily life. We also need to build alliances between all actors.

And when I talk about stakeholders, I also mean future generations. For improving our policies, we should also guarantee that intergenerational justice prevails and is an integral and formalized part of the policy processes.

Here I would like to refer to a project when we created a complex indicator regarding the pressure on future generations, encompassing inter alia environmental, demographic, health, pension data. I call for the strengthened use of similar measures and indicators.


To sum up and conclude

In my speech I touched upon 3 particular areas where I see the merit and potential of beyond GDP thinking and initiatives.

First, beyond GDP indicators can provide the right policy signals. Currently, we have far too many descriptive indicators and the information silo thinking still prevails.

Here I argue for integrated (partly complex, aggregated) policy relevant indicators. We have to develop more indicators on efficiency, policy effectiveness and well-being.

As for the topics, (global) resource flows, value and degradation of natural capital, intergenerational aspects of life have to be covered much better. Existing practices and ongoing initiatives in the field of indicators, accounts and assessments (SEEA System of Environmental-Economic Accounting, indicator activities of European Environment Agency including the revised core set, natural capital assessments, etc) should be further developed.

Secondly, future EU policies require a broad and long term perspective, which can also be facilitated by beyond GDP thinking.

I showed that there is a scope for greening the European Semester and in more general terms I argued for reshaping concepts like sustainable development and green economy and for recontextualizing our policies to provide solutions to real life challenges. Sustainable solutions (e.g. in the fields of energy, but also food, transport, housing, etc.)  make our life cheaper, more efficient, more convenient.

Thirdly, beyond GDP initiatives can raise awareness and mobilize efforts of policymakers and citizens. Actors should be well-informed and enabled to opt for genuinely sustainable solutions, take win-win steps towards an environmentally and socially just transition which includes respecting the needs of (and measurement of pressures on) future generations.

As a Member of the European Parliament, I will work towards these goals, by raising these issues during exchanges of views with relevant representatives of other EU institutions, by helping to create the necessary links among stakeholders and by encouraging my colleagues so the Parliament can play a more proactive role in the process.









Accelerating renewable energy development for reduction of energy dependence of Europe

organised by the Innovative Business Centre in cooperation with the Energy Watch Group at the European Energy Security Forum 2014


26 September 2014

Session 1



We have seen that several support mechanisms and forward looking initiatives exist in the diverse fields of renewable energy, yet, there are still substantial obstacles and barriers for further development of renewables both in financial terms and attitudes.

In my short presentation I look at some of the challenges and give a few examples to show the need for re-contextualization of the renewable energy agenda and making clear links with various issues like energy efficiency, energy security, environment, climate change mitigation, not to forget energy poverty and wellbeing.

I point to some of the interlinkages, highlight possible synergies and call for establishing or reinforcing the policy links among these issues. The geographical scope of the paper is mainly Europe with an outlook to regional (Eastern-Central Europe) or country level aspects.


The EU has committed itself to a low carbon economy, which implies a much greater need for renewable sources of energy. The use renewables is also crucial for reducing the EU’s dependence on energy imports (EU dependency increased from less than 40 % of gross energy consumption in the 1980s to reach 53.4 % by 2012), and its vulnerability to price increases. According to the Commission estimates, by moving towards a low carbon economy EU could save € 175-320 billion annually in fuel costs over the next 40 years.

However, we all see that the current energy and climate framework with 3 interlinked targets on energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reduction and renewable energy) is at risk of being consolidated into a single emission reduction target. This would likely result in an uncertain future for the EU’s renewables sector and other low-carbon technologies. These projects in general face a danger of cost overruns, operational and regulatory risks, problems of carbon price and weather variability, public acceptance. Renewables are associated with very significant investment needs and long payback times. Besides, these projects have the added risk of uncertain load factor due to grid integration challenges. Hence, spreading renewables is highly challenging from a policy point of view.

Focus of my speech is on a coherent policy framework and appropriate financing.

I argue that the foreseen reform of climate and energy policy in itself would not provide sufficient motivation to all member states, business, households and other actors for a wide-scale sustainable energy use.

To give you 2 examples from my country, according to a recent study, 75 – 85% of households in Hungary do not have any savings; 80% of those households planning energy related investments would not take a bank loan to cover the investment costs.

If we look at the allocation of renewables-related development funds in the country, mayor distortions occur, as well.

The link between renewables, climate change mitigation and energy efficiency is obvious. There are other, seemingly unrelated aspects, too. Here I would like to highlight the importance of combining green energy efforts with the alleviation of energy poverty. To put it simply, energy (or fuel) poverty occurs when a household is unable to heat its home or afford to use energy services at an adequate level which hampers the fulfillment of other basic needs of individuals. Based on estimates from EPEE (European fuel poverty and energy efficiency) project, 50-125 million EU citizens are affected.


As the map below shows, a main aspect of energy poverty is manifest across the EU.

% of households unable to afford to keep their home adequately warm


Source: EU Fuel Poverty Network

To flag some of the multiple consequences of energy poverty: across the EU as a whole, 9.8% of the population are unable to keep their home adequately warm, 15.5% live in homes that are damp, rotting or leaking, and 8.9% are behind on payments for utility bills (results of recent Fuel Poverty research based on 2011 data from the Eurostat SILC survey). In addition, energy poverty is associated with a wide range of physical and mental illnesses. According to a recent study, only in Hungary, 5000 deaths per year can be associated with non-adequately heated homes.
If we take a closer look at the characteristics of energy poor households (regardless of the exact definition or threshold) we can see that – besides other features – these households usually inhabit buildings with bad energetic characteristics (including panel blocks in Eastern-Central Europe).

If we look at former energy poverty alleviation strategies across Europe based on income or energy prices (subsidies, tariff policies) have often turned out to be contraproductive and become a burden for public budgets.

It is only when synergies between building efficiency, social welfare and climate mitigation was recognised that the policy efforts have accelerated in parts of Europe (e.g. Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, energy-efficient refurbishments). Studies focusing on Eastern Central Europe show that efficiency improvements and sustainable energy investments would enable many households to escape energy poverty, yet due to their unfavourable financial situation households cannot take the necessary investments and thus this potential synergy remains unexploited in the region.

Another striking example is that while in many countries households are incentivised to use sustainable energy, in my country, the payment of the utility bills are subsidised – mostly providing a driver for higher consumption of imported gas instead of shaping attitude towards energy savings, improved efficiency and greener sources.

This brings me to the issue of financing low carbon investments.


Renewable energy investments, according to recent data from Hungary, are mainly concentrated to upper middle class living environments, as they need a remarkable contribution from the households themselves. This characteristic cuts off low income households from being beneficiaries of renewable subsidies, as well as from harvesting the energy and cost advantages of such investments. Very simply we can say, that most of the public money spent on household energy efficiency and small-scale renewable investments is finally allocated to, and supports middle or high income households, and thus these subsidies are widening the gap between low and high income groups.


The presentation does not allow me to address the issue in its complexity, yet I see an opportunity for vulnerably groups in mainstreaming the ESCO (Energy Service Company) financial model. An other important issue is creating specialized programmes for low income households, marginalized groups – like the Roma community in Central and Eastern Europe, or immigration groups in the West – and financially extremely fluctuating and vulnerable families. In this environment very often the simple electrification of the buildings is not established yet, so cheap, affordable and low tech renewable solutions might move those households from the 19th to the 21st  century.


In my presentation I argued that separate energy policy goals might not lead to wished results. There is a need to show co-benefits of renewables in terms of social and economic aspects. I used energy poverty as an example show that linking different policy goals is likely to tip the cost-benefit balance and help mobilise efforts of the stakeholders in all fields.

As for renewables, possible directions, steps include:

  • developing a common understanding of related concepts, indicators
  • further improving relevant research and establish a proper science-policy interface
  • developing methodologies to quantify co-benefits and co-costs
  • establishing specified, well targeted programmes for disseminating the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable investments for our most needy fellow citizens .

On that basis, further and better targeted incentives can be drawn for the wider use of renewables, which not only help boosting the economy and improving employment in the EU, but also brings about substantial benefits for the environment and the whole society.

To conclude, I argue that the new climate and energy policy has to be comprehensive combining renewable energy target with further aspects in order to bring a socially just transition.













Conference on the role of renewables for EU’s energy security

organised by AEBIOM

22 SEPT 2014



Being personally committed to the energy transition issue, it’s a pleasure to join you at today’s conference. Europe’s energy policy has seen profound changes in the last decades, but it is currently facing a new situation with multiple challenges. Although energy mixes and choices around energy in member states may vary, we have three common and distinct policy objectives: limiting the environmental impact of energy production, transport and use, ensuring a reliable and uninterrupted supply of energy as well as making energy affordable for every citizen and fighting against energy povertyIn my speech I will focus on this threefold challenge that Europe’s energy policy needs to tackle and argue for a need to smartly reframe the renewables agenda by closely linking sustainability, energy security and social aspects.

First, lets have a closer look at the sustainability and climate change aspects of the energy policy agenda. I quote the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR5): “The world now has a rough deadline for action on climate change. Nations need to take aggressive action in the next 15 years to cut carbon emissions, in order to forestall the worst effects of global warming.”

This means that the world is (again) being warned of an ecological or climate tipping point by the UN. I say, it might be already late or we might delay too long in reacting to these risks and may see irreversible changes in all parts of the environmental system. Hence, its time for urgent action at all levels (from governments to individuals). We need substantial and sustained reductions of GHG emissions and other environmental impacts related to energy.

If we look at the level of ambition of the EU’s 2030 Climate and Energy Package as it stands, even if discussions are on-going on its details, it is clearly insufficient.

We need more. (Of course, we also have to look beyond Europe’s borders and prevent outsourcing carbon emissions and footprint to other parts of the world.)


However, this is only part of the overall picture. We all sense that energy security and is now higher and higher on the agenda, an issue that has clear linkages with renewables.

Yet, even if there is currently much political will around energy security, providing clear opportunities for you, renewables stakeholders, there are also some threats that I would like to point out.

In the 2030 Climate and Energy Package we have to thrive for much more (at least a 45% share for renewables) than the numbers currently discussed and I will only support a deal that has this ambition.

Beyond ambitious and binding goals at the European level we have to define specific targets at the level of member states, together with well designed, result-oriented and conditional support schemes.


Besides, energy security as a new buzzword and umbrella concept might provide an opportunity for the fossil fuel (e.g. shale gas) or nuclear lobby, which, if successful, can delay the genuinely sustainable energy transition alternatives in the EU. I personally am fully convinced that energy efficiency in combination with a nuclear free energy supply and a rapidly growing share of renewables is the direction we should move towards.

This would also make national and European energy systems less dependent on external sources, less vulnerable and more resilient in an energy crisis situation.


Furthermore, I warn decision makers not to throw out the baby with the bathwater and let go the achievements the EU has made in environment and climate-protection. Sustainability goals and new investments (physical and intellectual) in climate-friendly technologies using energy from various renewable sources need to remain an inherent part of future energy policy in the EU.

In some regions of the European Union (mainly in Eastern-Central Europe and the Mediterranean member states), the issues I have mentioned are accompanied by a third challenge, namely the extensive problem of energy poverty.


Hence, making energy affordable for each and every member of the European society and making sustainable technologies available for all are of utmost importance. (This is also valid at global scale – according to the International Energy Agency estimates provided in the World Energy Outlook, 1,8 billion people lack access to electricity and in some regions, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia, energy poverty either stagnated or worsened as population growth outpaced energy access efforts.)


In Europe itself, it is estimated that 50-125 million EU citizens are affected by energy (or fuel) poverty meaning that these households are unable to heat their home or afford to use energy services at an adequate level. Many households are unable to escape energy poverty and are basically excluded from existing energy modernization programmes (e.g. insulation and improving heating efficiency of homes) due to their unfavourable financial situation.

In my view, at the European level, efforts should be concentrated on providing programs for low-income households to reach energy savings and to help them to get access to renewable energy investments. The latter would allow them to diversify their own energy sources and to build energy autonomy at household level.

We need programmes that do not require an own contribution from disadvantaged households, as savings that they will be able to achieve via energy modernization will cover their loan instalments. We also need low-cost micro projects targeted at the most vulnerable groups.



To sum up, I am convinced that the future European energy policy can only be successful if it integrates and provides solutions for all the above challenges.

Based on our geopolitical position, we, member states and stakeholders in Europe need to deepen our cooperation, aim at an energy transition along the lines of improved affordability, security and sustainability of our energy system.

Energy savings, efficiency and sustainable sources have to be fundamental elements of a renewed, common European energy policy. Here I stress the need for strong cooperation with the energy efficiency community. Supporting each others’ ambitions and exploiting synergies are crucial.


I also argue for a decentralized energy system which requires clearly different developments, investments and infrastructural priorities than a traditional energy network. We have to apply a participatory approach, as vast local use of renewables turns consumers to “prosumers”.

It’s essential to give regional answers for system regulation challenges in order to open up the possibility for higher shares of renewables in some Member States.

We also need to look beyond our borders. Creating linkages, better integration with our neighbors would be a chance of spreading renewables technology and know-how, in addition to helping the sustainable development of these regions.


In conclusion, we need to build on the momentum of the energy security efforts, and we definitely need to a more ambitious Climate and Energy Package that provides proper incentives, brings about behavior change and at the same time, provides benefits for the widest public. Mainstreaming sustainable technologies, new solutions should follow with a view to reducing disparities in the EU.

We should look far beyond progress in terms of infrastructures, systems, technologies and also aim for providing better services and beyond all, improving accessibility to these in the widest sense.

These are the preconditions for boosting investments in renewables.


As a member of the European Parliament I wanted demonstrate that in the EP we have forward looking ideas. As for the next steps (e.g. upcoming decision on energy policy priorities and short-term measures) the European Parliament wishes to play an active role and be as much involved as possible. Here I would like to mention that we are currently working on a European Energy Security Strategy where I act as shadow rapporteur and I aim for integrating the above thoughts and elements into this Strategy.

Nevertheless, I am here also to hear your opinion, your contributions and to gain new insights.

I wish ourselves a fruitful conference, a lively exchange of views. I hope we keep looking for new solutions together.




Carbonbrief.org – tipping elements 




COM paper http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/pdf/energy2_en.pdf

EEA Technical report No 5/2013 Achieving energy efficiency through behaviour change: what does it take?