REPower EU plan legislative proposal

In “A European Green Deal”

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On 18 May 2022, the European Commission presented its REPowerEU plan as a response to the energy market disruption caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The REPower EU plan seeks to both end the EU's dependence on Russian fossil fuels and make further advances in tackling the climate crisis.

As part of the REPowerEU plan, the Commission has proposed a series of targeted amendments of existing legislation in the energy field, namely the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), and the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). All three directives were already being revised as part of the Fit for 55 package adopted by the Commission in 2021. The aim of these targeted amendments was to feed into this ongoing process of legislative revision. 

Most of the targeted amendments concern the RED. The co-legislators ultimately agreed that the targeted revisions to the EPBD and the EED (see below) would be dealt with directly in the ongoing processes of negotiation over revision of these directives. As a result, this procedural file would focus exclusively on changes to the RED.

The Commission’s legislative proposal would raise the required share of renewable energy sources (RES) in EU final energy consumption to 45 % by 2030. This RES share is higher than the 40 % proposed by the Commission in its Fit for 55 proposal (July 2021) and much higher than the 32.5 % share in the existing RED (last amended in 2018). The Commission’s proposal includes enhanced measures to accelerate permitting procedures for new RES power plants, or for adaptation of existing RES installations. Member States would be required to designate ‘renewables go-to areas’, which are particularly suitable areas for RES installations and would benefit from accelerated permitting procedures. The proposal would limit the grounds of legal objection to new RES installations by considering that RES production, its connection to the grid, the grid itself and related storage assets would be presumed to be of overriding public interest for specific purposes.

The EPBD would be amended to create an obligation for Member States to ensure new buildings are solar ready and to install solar energy installations on buildings. This would apply from 2027 to all new public and commercial buildings with useful floor area larger than 250 square meters, and from 2028 to all existing public and commercial buildings of this size. From 2030, this requirement would extend to cover all new residential buildings.

The EED would be amended to ensure that Member States collectively reduce their energy consumption by at least 13 % in 2030, as compared to the projections of the 2020 Reference Scenario. EU final energy consumption must not exceed 750 Mtoe and EU primary energy consumption must not exceed 980 Mtoe in 2030. This is more ambitious than the Commission’s Fit for 55 proposal to revise the EED (adopted in July 2021), which proposed a further reduction of 9 % on the 2020 reference scenario.

In the Parliament, the file was referred to the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), which appointed Markus Pieper (EPP, Germany) as rapporteur. The Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) was associated to the ITRE report under Rule 57 (European Parliament Rules of Procedure). The final report was adopted by the ITRE committee on 14 November 2022 and endorsed in the plenary session on 14 December 2022.

The ITRE report would shorten the maximum period to approve new RES installations from twelve to nine months - if these are located in the so-called "renewables acceleration areas" - and 18 months in other areas (24 months in the original Commission proposal). The ITRE report suggests applying the "positive silence" principle to these administrative procedures. Permits to install solar energy equipment on buildings would need to be delivered within three months, using a simple notification procedure for smaller installations (<50kW), while the process for repowering existing RES plants would take no longer than six months.

The Council of the EU adopted a general approach at a meeting of energy ministers on 19 December 2022, which focuses on the designation of 'renewables go to areas' and faster permitting processes. The general approach accepts the possibility of a 'tacit agreement' for intermediary administrative steps but insists on a final decision before a project can proceed. The maximum length of permit granting processes would vary according to whether the installation is in or outside of 'renewable go to areas', and whether it concerns repowering of existing power plants. Offshore projects would potentially be subject to a longer permit granting process. The general approach proposes to shorten the permit granting process for some renewable installations to as little as six months, a time limit that applies to areas already designated as suitable for an accelerated renewables deployment.

These Council and Parliament negotiating positions were incorporated in negotiations over revising the RED, which concluded with a provisional agreement on 30 March 2023, raising the share of renewables in EU energy consumption to 42.5 %. A plenary vote on the RED compromise took place on 12 September 2023. The revised directive (RED III) was published in the Official Journal on 31 October 2023 and entered into force on 20 November 2023. A provisional agreement was also reached on the EED on 10 March 2023 and subsequently adopted in the EP plenary on 10 July 2023, confirming the new energy consumption reduction target of 11.7 %. The revised EED directive was published in the Official Journal on 20 September 2023 and entered into force on 10 October 2023. The negotiations on the EPBD concluded on 7 December 2023 with an agreement between the Parliament and Council. The EP voted in favour of the text during the March 2024 plenary. The next step will be a formal endorsement by the Council.

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Author: Agnieszka Widuto, Members' Research Service, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

As of 20/03/2024.