A new step towards a climate neutral Europe

The EU Council adopted its negotiating positions on five of the legislative proposals in the "Ready for Target 55" package. The package, presented by the European Commission last July, will enable the EU to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and achieve climate neutrality in 2050. The proposals include a revision of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and a ban on internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035, as well as changes to the Renewable Energy Directive and the Energy Efficiency Directive. The agreement allows the Council to start negotiations with the European Parliament.

Renewable energy

The Council agreed to set a binding EU-level target of 40% renewable energy in the overall energy mix by 2030. Member States will have to increase their national contribution, as set out in their integrated national energy and climate plans, which will be updated in 2023 and 2024, to collectively meet the new target.

The Council has set an indicative target of at least 49% share of renewable energy in buildings in 2030.

Fast-track authorisation procedures for renewable energy projects will be included in line with the priorities of the RepowerEU plan proposed by the Commission in May 2022. The aim is to accelerate the deployment of renewables in the context of the EU's plan to become independent from Russian fossil fuels after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Energy efficiency

It was agreed to reduce energy consumption at EU level by 36% for final energy consumption and by 39% for primary energy consumption by 2030.

The solution is for all Member States to contribute to the overall EU target through indicative national contributions defined by Member States in their integrated national energy and climate plans, which will be updated in 2023 and 2024.

A gradual increase of the energy end-use savings target is also foreseen. Member States will deliver savings of 1.1% of annual final energy consumption from 1 January 2024; 1.3% from 1 January 2026; and 1.5% from 1 January 2028 to 31 December 2030, with the possibility to carry forward up to 10% of surplus savings to the next period.

The public sector, for its part, has a specific obligation to achieve an annual reduction in energy consumption of 1.7% or, alternatively, of at least 1.9% each year if public transport or the armed forces are excluded, which will be binding four years after the entry into force of the Regulation, starting progressively with the larger municipalities. In addition, the Council agreed that member states will be required to renovate at least 3% of the floor area of buildings owned by public authorities each year.

In addition, it was agreed that a proportionate share of the energy savings in Member States would be targeted at vulnerable consumers.

The Council added a provision on the transparency of energy consumption in data centres. Data centres will be required to publish information on their energy consumption every year from 2024 onwards. The Commission will set up an EU public database collecting information on data centres' energy consumption.