European Economic and Social Committee

Do not forget the Energy Union was meant to benefit citizens and businesses, says EESC

Brüssel (ots) - Real life benefits for citizens and businesses must be the benchmark of progress towards the European Energy Union, urged the EESC in an opinion adopted at its last plenary. The EESC also called on the EC to open up the European electricity market to industry, business and local prosumer communities.

Assessing the second annual report on progress towards the European Energy Union, the EESC urged the European Commission to "go back to basics": "We must remember why we are doing all this. We are doing it for citizens, for businesses and for the benefit of the whole of society." said opinion rapporteur Tellervo Kylä-Harakka-Ruonala.

The Energy Union is a complex construct, with several pillars, many objectives and numerical targets, but progress monitoring should primarily focus on practical indicators - energy prices, industrial production figures, jobs created, emission cuts, the opinion rapporteur insisted: "As the saying goes, you get what you measure, so if you measure benefits, action will focus on these. The energy system, the physical infrastructure, the functioning of the market are important, but let's also measure the benefits which accrue to companies, workers, consumers. If we were to do that, we would actually see the linkage with what is happening in reality and what the Energy Union means in Europe on the ground."

The EESC also called on the Commission to assess low-carbon policy instruments holistically, focusing on tackling taxes and charges that raise consumer prices and subsidies that distort energy markets and investment signals. This was crucial to attract investment, the rapporteur underlined.

The Committee further encouraged the EC to take measures to strengthen the EU's carbon handprint - a positive indicator which, in contrast to the carbon footprint, refers to the combination of all the good impacts of one's action on the environment. Europe's emissions currently account for about 10% of global emissions and are expected shrink to approximately 5% in the coming decade.

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