European energy policy is in crisis and in particular the European internal electricity market. Designed in mid-nineties under the idea that the greater competition enabled by liberalization would lower electricity prices for end -users, the electricity market has operated on this base until 2008. In 2008 the European leaders adopted the climate change package (20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions, 20% of energy produced from renewable sources and a 20% improvement in the EU’s energy efficiency) and consequently introduced renewable energy sources (RES) support schemes out of the electricity market (green certificates, priority of access for RES-sourced electricity plants,…). Three objectives of the European policy were defined: sustainability, affordability, security of supply.
To comply with the sustainability objectives, European countries have also promoted RES, such as wind and solar by national subsidies. This has distorted the European electricity markets and discouraged investment by eliminating the long-term certainty needed to attract investment it has put under threat the affordability.
Nowadays European industries dependent on energy resources pay too high a price to be competitive. American companies benefit from the energy boom due to local shale gas: their European competitors are currently paying three to four times as much for gas and double for electricity. At the same time, the prices of energy subsidized by the different countries of Europe are too low to put an end to the freezing of investment in new energy plants. In addition, more and more conventional thermal production units are closed by the European utilities due to the lack of cost-effectiveness or the policy of energy transition (abandonment of the charcoal): in 2018, 18 GW closed for 3 GW new gas production units. Despite the interconnections between the countries, the risk of blackout for the countries depending on the imports is increasing.
More than a quarter of the gas Europe imports comes from Russia, country that is sanctioned by the EU for its policy towards Ukraine. Despite this situation individual countries keep the control on their own energy security.
The European economy is negatively impacted by all these elements. It needs a secure, reliable and competitive energy to ensure its development and the prosperity of its population.
It should not be penalized by a short-term energy policy which endangers its development and social progress. The energy transition must maintain and develop employment in European industry. To do so, the most impacted workers in this sector should benefit from a solid training support via re-skilling programs and vocational education training. The social dialogue is a key issue to ensure good professional transitions and acceptability of changes.
FECER calls for the participation of the social partners at all levels (company, sectoral, intersectoral in national and European social committees) to ensure the success of the energy transition. A transition fund fed by revenues of carbon taxes or ETS schemes should support the development of re-skilling programmes and vocational education and training in the energy sector for most impacted workers of every concerned Member-States.
FECER calls for better coordination and consistency of the various energy policies carried out by European countries, which would go through the transfer in five years of national subsidies for wind and solar energy to energy efficiency among others building insulation and the restoration of equal access to the network of different energy sources encouraging the investment of new production units.
FECER also calls for the creation of a Central European Power Authority in charge to coordinate the relations with the energy (electricity, gas, petrol) suppliers, R&D in breakthrough technologies and the investments in the European electricity network, which must be reinforced.