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Multilevel Energy Policy in the EU: Paving the Way for Renewables?

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The legal and political interrelations between national and EU energy policy competencies and the actual policies are multifaceted. In order to understand those interrelations properly one has to analyse both the formal competencies of the EU as enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty and the actual EU policies with their direct and indirect impact on the choice of energy sources. The Treaty grants the EU competence as regards (a) the functioning of the energy market; (b) security of energy supply in the Union; (c) promotion of energy efficiency and energy saving and the development of new and renewable forms of energy; and (d) promotion of the interconnection of energy networks. However, Member States remain in control of choosing between different energy sources and the general structure of their energy supply. Any decision affecting this national competence must be adopted by a unanimous vote of the European Council. EU renewable energy support policy needs to develop within the framework of these mixed and multifaceted competences. Our overall argument is that easy fixes do not work. Considering the different national preferences regarding the energy mix, it is premature to ask for a full-fledged EU energy competence leading to a harmonised support system for renewables. Besides which, the emerging climate and renewables policies could also be a driver for deepened energy integration – rather as a bottom-up than a top-down process. In that sense a framework for 2030 with clear goals for climate mitigation, renewables shares and efficiency are of pivotal importance for the transition towards a low carbon economy by 2050.

Affiliations: 1: * Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany, ; 2: **German Advisory Council on the Environment,


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