Current Situation and Problems in European Common Energy Policies

Author Name KAINOU Kazunari  (Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. April 2008 08-P-001
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During the first and second weeks of February 2008, as a part of the member country energy policy review of the International Energy Agency (IEA), a visit for in-depth review was conducted for the EU committee, at which I was an expert from Japan. Based on the experience and observations of the review, I attempt to analyze and explain the current status of the European common energy policy and the issues surrounding it.

With regard to the European common energy policy, the situation to date has been that individual directives have been issued for each issue, and a comprehensive energy policy was finally agreed on and shaped in 2007. This European common energy policy is characterized by a unique policy method in which ambitious policy targets are laid down and efforts of individual member countries to achieve them are urged, for example ownership unbundling of gas and electricity supply and distribution, and the achievement of three 20% targets by 2020 with regard to energy and environmental issues.

However, the state of implementation and compliance in individual member countries of past directives such as gas and electricity liberalization, renewable energy, and energy-efficiency are in far from a satisfactory condition. For example it has been observed that, with regard to certain energy policy directives where the actual situation deviates from past targets, these have simply been switched to other long-term targets. Nothing is as hollow as setting policy targets that are not accompanied by sound implementation and compliance. Currently, in individual policies there is seen some partial strengthening of legal force and postponement of targets, but there still remains a concern that unless there is drastic improvement with respect to their implementation and compliance, the European common energy policy could be reduced to being merely a formal procedure for political decisions.