Up until recently it was difficult to talk about a European energy policy. Just after the coming into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009 did the European Union gain formal competences in the area of energy. Finally, there was a separate Title dedicated particularly to energy. The Title consists of just one Article, which stresses that ‘Union policy on energy shall aim, in a spirit of solidarity between Member States, to: (…) (c) promote energy performance and energy conserving and the development of new and renewable kinds of energy;’ (Art. 194). Decisions in this regard are to be taken according to the ordinary legal treatment, with the exception of measures, which ‘impact a Member State’s right to determine the conditions for exploiting its energy resources, its choice between different energy sources and the general structure of its energy supply.’ Such measures are to be accepted by consentaneous.
Still, even before the Lisbon Treaty entered force, decisions of great value for the development of renewable resource sources in Europe have been taken. The legal bases for these decisions were – among others – EU competences in the location of environment. Former Article 174 TEC mentioned amongst the EU goals ‘promoting measures at a worldwide level to handle around the world or regional environmental problems, and in certain combating climate modification.’ It was even earlier that the, at that time known as the European Community, provided a Communication to the Council labelled ‘The Greenhouse Effect and the Community’. In the 1990s, it was followed by Green and White Papers. The significant advancement in the renewable energy sector in Europe came with the Directive 2001/77/EC.
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Directive 2001/77/EC for the first time defined specific targets for the EU-member states regarding the share of the electricity from renewable energy sources in the total electricity consumption for the year 2010. It is very important to tension: these targets were not obligatory and no adverse effects were foreseen against countries which didn’t fulfil their ‘a measure targets’. As the year 2010 draws to an end, it’s becoming clear that really few member states will certainly have the ability to meet these targets. In 2008 only Germany exceeded its target. Some countries, especially Greece and the United Kingdom didn’t even come close.
The much more vital repercussion of the Directive was the responsibility of the member states to introduce ‘support schemes’ that would result in the increase of share of renewable energy sources in the electricity consumption. There are 2 significant sort of schemes that have been introduced by the member countries: feed-in tariffs (FITs) and green certifications. While the FITs, that ensure a fixed cost for each system of renewable energy produced, appear less market-oriented, it became a much more reliable system than green certifications in supporting different kinds of energy. Its efficiency is clearly noticeable in the development of the wind and solar energy in Germany. But it also brings some deals with if the level of a certain toll is set at a wrong level. This is what occurred to the PV market in Spain in 2008. Gradually, however, FITs are getting a growing number of support in Europe: In April 2010 this system has been presented in the United Kingdom and in July 2010 the EU Energy Commissar, G\u00fcnther Oettinger, mentioned a need to adopt something similar to German feed-in toll system at the European level.
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Despite the intro of the Directive 2001/77/EC, the development of the RES lagged behind expectations. Particularly in the East and Central European countries, that we’re focusing more on catching up economically with the rest of Europe, then on altering their structure of energy, manufacturing, the manufacturing of new capability was blocked by financial and bureaucratic obstacles.
Sometimes, i.e. Poland, the restricted financial resources are spent to establish a nuclear program rather of supporting renewable and decentralized energy markets.
In this scenario, it has become clear, that new measures need to be taken. In 2006 the Council asked the Commission to recommend further measures to increase the share of renewable energy in the total energy consumption. In the very same year the European Parliament asked for a binding target of 25 % of renewable energy in the energy consumption by 2020 in the European Union as an entire In reaction to that European Commission released in January 2007 ‘Renewable Energy Roadmap’ which suggested a legitimately binding target of 20 % energy from renewable sources in total energy consumption in the European Union. It is required to stress: this target concerns not just electricity sector (like the Directive 2001/77/EC) however all types of energy. Because in some locations the increase in the share of energy from renewable sources is simpler than in others it was left for the countries themselves to choose about the share of renewable energy in each sector. There was one exception: in the transport sector the target for the share of energy coming from renewable sources should reach in all member states the very same level: at least 10 %. This target should be attained with the utilization of biofuels, but also the introduction of electrical cars.
After two years of settlements in May 2009 Directive 2009/28/EC came into force. It also included a non-binding target of 20 % increase of energy performance and 20 % reduction of CO2 discharges in comparison to year 1990. The latter target must be accomplished by the enhancement of the European Emissions Trading Scheme that has been modified by the Directive 2009/29/EC.
The Directive 2009/28/EC must be completely carried out by the member states until December 2010. Till the end of June each member states were expected to provide the Commission with a detailed explanation concerning the method in which targets of this directive will be achieved.
So called National Renewable Energy Action Plans were ready according to a template prepared by the Commission one year earlier.
All NREAPs can be discovered on the Commission’s Transparency Platform. It is obvious, that for some countries the targets are less difficult than for others. Whereas the United Kingdom has to increase its share of renewable fivefold, the targets for Sweden and Austria appear to be less tough. Some countries are currently taking proper steps to deal with the difficulty and perceive it as a chance to establish a new sustainable market, while others are entering an entirely different direction. It remains to be seen which method pays off.