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The European Commission must deploy a more transparent and effective enforcement regime for the implementation of Europe’s climate and energy policies

CAN Europe's media advisory

Brussels, 29 April 2011. Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe today released a short report looking at the compliance mechanisms of European renewable energy and climate policies – an aspect which tends to receive little attention, yet is key to their effectiveness.

Climate Action Network Europe asked CE Delft to look at the degree to which stated obligations in EU climate and energy policy are indeed binding, and whether the threat of a penalty for failure to meet these targets would constitute an adequate motivation to governments to take the measures needed to comply.

The report concludes that so far a clear and effective implementation of the legal enforcement regime from the European Commission on its climate and energy policies is missing. It is not clear at what level the fines for non-compliance will be set and how the Commission foresees adding measures that would bring Member States in compliance with their targets.

Climate Action Network Europe, representing over 140 civil society organizations, believes It is vital that a clear vision and action plan to ensure enforcement of the EU’s climate and renewable energy policies be developed. This is needed to ensure the realization of those targets which are already formulated as legally binding, like those on greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy – in spite of the threat to their achievement that comes from the current poor rates of progress on energy efficiency and savings. At the same time, action on energy efficiency and savings must be stepped up. The European Commission must clearly elaborate a strong and motivating enforcement regime that can be applied to the so far indicative target in this area by 2013 at the latest[1].

Key findings of the report “The Accountability of European Renewable Energy and Climate Policy”:

 The report considers the question of what might happen in terms of legal consequences if in 2015 and 2020 it transpires that European renewable energy and climate policy targets have not been met, and the likely deterrent effect of these measures. Key findings are as follows:

1.      Almost all the European renewable energy and climate targets are formulated as binding obligations for Member States, with the significant exception of the field of energy efficiency and saving.

2.      To meet their national renewable energy targets Member States need to step up their efforts, especially when it comes to energy end-use efficiency. The European Commission has so far provided no indication of how it values the quality, i.e. anticipated effectiveness, of the measures proposed to (further) promote renewable energy generation and consumption, as stated in the various National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs).

3.      Member States failing to meet their renewable energy or climate policy targets may face a penalty in the form of a lump sum payment and/or periodic penalty payments. The magnitude of such penalties will depend on (a) the severity of the infringement, (b) its duration and (c) the desired deterrent effect. At the moment it is unknown if and how the Commission will make use of its penalty-imposing powers. If at some point in the future the Commission wishes to exercise this right, it will have to indicate in a timely and transparent manner that efforts to comply have been insufficient.

4.      It is unclear how the deterrent of possible penalties might weigh up against the benefits of not complying with agreed targets. Further study can shed light on the magnitude and type of penalty required to act as sufficient incentive for Member States to meet their targets. If insufficient action is taken the (internal) market could suffer, e.g. if one country considers the targets to be binding (and invests accordingly) while another opts not to because this is deemed economically favorable.

Download the report: The Accountability of European Renewable Energy and Climate Policy by CE DELFT

For more information:

Antonio di Vico, CAN Europe Web and Communications Assistant, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , +32 2894 4675

Tomas Wyns, CAN Europe Senior Policy Officer, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , +32 473 840 322


[1] The European Commission’s Energy Efficiency Plan (COM(2011)109 final) states that in 2013 the Commission will reassess progress to the 20% energy saving target. If necessary it will at that point propose legally binding national targets for 2020. A new Directive on Energy Efficiency and Savings, intended to ensure achievement of the 20% target, is currently under preparation and should enter force in 2013. This Directive would provide the ideal vehicle for legally binding national targets.

Media contact

   Vanessa Bulkacz
   Communications Manager
   Direct line: +32 2894 4675
   Email: vanessa/at/caneurope.org

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