In the face of climate change and the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, public funding will be vital if Europe is to decarbonise its economy and reach its ambitious climate targets.
Following the release of CERRE’s report “State aid guidelines for environmental protection and energy (EEAG): review process, possible changes and opportunities,” Máximo Miccinilli (CERRE Energy & Climate Director) sat down with Professor Catherine Banet (CERRE Research Fellow and Professor at the University of Oslo) to discuss the main takeaways from the report.
Why are these guidelines relevant? How should they be reformed? What does this mean in practice?
Since their adoption in 2014, the purpose of the EEAG has been to assist the Member States in reaching their 2020 climate and energy targets and to prepare the ground for achieving the objectives set out in the 2030 framework. Professor Banet highlighted that the revised guidelines should, similarly, serve the same purpose of compliance to the climate and energy targets under the 2030 framework and prepare the ground for climate neutrality by 2050.
“The guidelines can contribute to fast tracking decarbonisation, to making use of all technologies based, as much as possible, on the technology neutrality approach, and to ensuring a holistic approach for the whole energy system.” – Professor Banet
The report also questions whether a change in the structure and scope of guidelines is needed, and it provides three different alternatives:
- An approach based on objectives (i.e. environmental protection, climate mitigation, resilience…);
- An approach based on specific measures;
- A “combined approach”, based on both objectives and specific measures, for which the report stands in favour.
“The Guidelines are part of a legal ecosystem, and there is a close link between the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER), the EEAG and secondary legislation: maintaining a link between these instruments will be fundamental.” – Professor Banet
Another crucial question addresses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the main lessons learned. In this context, Professor Banet underlines the importance of the resilience criterion, which is already present in some of the guidelines on State Aid.
“This should be considered to a much greater extent in the guidelines in relation to the whole energy system” – Professor Banet