Leaked Commission draft shows EU's world leadership on renewable energy at risk

23 April 2004

Brussels, 23 April 2004 : Three leading environmental groups are demanding the European Commission put forward a new target for boosting the share of renewable energy used in Europe to 25% by the year 2020.

The move follows the leaking of a draft Communication that reviews Europe's renewables policies, and which indicates that the Directorate General for Energy has so far refrained from proposing any new target.

The long-awaited paper is still under internal discussion, but is expected to be adopted by Commissioners in early May. Its timing is to set out the European position ahead of International Renewable Energies Conference in Bonn the following month.

In a joint letter to Commissioners [1], the three groups argue that without a long-term firm EU target, the draft plan would seriously undermine investor confidence and so slow the growth in renewable energy's market share.

"The EU is currently the world leader in renewable energy technologies. If the European Commission does not come forward now with a clear target for the post 2010 period (which in industry terms is 'tomorrow'), this position will be seriously undermined," said Giulio Volpi of WWF.

"While Member States, such as the UK and Germany, are already setting renewable energy targets for 2020, the discussion at European level is being stalled by the coal and nuclear lobbies within the Transport and Environment Directorate General. This is simply unacceptable", added Mahi Sideridou of Greenpeace.

"The current draft must be revised to reflect Europe's true potential for developing the new and efficient energy technologies. As experience has already clearly shown, only a framework based on firm long-term targets can provide the investor confidence necessary to fund new projects on the ground," said Mark Johnston for Friends of the Earth Europe.

In 1997, the European Union set a goal of doubling the share of renewable energy sources across Europe from 6 to
12 % by 2010. Last month, the European Parliament called the EU institutions to adopt a target of 20% by 2020 [2].

Notes:

1. Joint FoE Europe, Greenpeace, WWF letter to all Commissioners dated 21 April 2004, criticising the draft Communication

2. On 1 April 2004, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution calling on "the Commission and the Council to make the necessary efforts to reach a target of 20% for the contribution by renewable energy to total domestic energy consumption in the EU by 2020" (P5_TA-PROV (2004) 0276 International Conference on Renewable Energy (Bonn, June 2004)