Energy Council: About the energy priorities of the new EC

Date

2019 12 05

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On 4 December, Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas attended a meeting of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council in Brussels, where the energy priorities of the new European Commission and national energy and climate plans were discussed.

At the request of Lithuania, the Council’s agenda was supplemented by the question of the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant (Astravets NPP) and the implementation of safety recommendations made during stress tests. The minister reminded his EU counterparts that Belarus is working hard to speed up the construction of the Astravets NPP while also dragging out the stress test process, and is still not committed to implementing the recommendations made by the EU expert group in 2018.

The minister called on the European Commission (EC) to focus on the Astravets NPP issue and to address Belarus as soon as possible, urging them to submit a national action plan for review by international experts and to implement the recommendations before the reactor is launched. For its part, the EC should closely monitor implementation of this plan.

After congratulating the new European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, Mr Vaičiūnas noted that European Commission leadership and cooperation between Member States over the next five years is important in moving towards implementation of the EC’s ambitious vision for a climate-neutral future.

The minister said that Lithuania supports the energy policy guidelines drawn up by the new EC, which include energy efficiency, rapid development of renewable energy sources, close regional energy cooperation, exploitation of the potential of liquefied natural gas, and reduction of energy poverty.

Mr Vaičiūnas also noted that special attention is needed from the EC to ensure the safety of the EU and its citizens, which is becoming vulnerable due to the unsafe construction of nuclear power plants right in the vicinity of the EU.

The minister also noted that proposals are especially welcome from the EC on ways to ensure that electricity from third countries with lower environmental and safety standards than the EU would not distort the EU electricity market and negatively affect EU electricity producers. This is particularly important for achieving the EU’s ambitious renewable energy targets.

In the discussion about integrated national energy and climate plans, the minister noted that Lithuania is among the leaders in the EU in terms of renewable energy targets. Important additional measures are also foreseen which will significantly increase energy efficiency.

The minister accented that public consultations in Lithuania on the integrated national energy and climate plan are concluding today, and that it is expected that the government-approved plan will be submitted to the EC in time – by the end of the year.

According to Mr Vaičiūnas, Lithuania supports the goal set by the EC to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, but the capabilities of each country must be taken into account.

“This is not just a transition in the energy sector to renewable and clean energy sources. First and foremost, it is the transformation of society itself. And while this transition will undoubtedly benefit each and every one of us in the long run, it must all be done in such a way so as to ensure that all of the EU countries and all of their citizens come out as winners. Therefore, not only the contribution of the states, but also the support of the EU will be necessary,” said the Minister of Energy.

The minister noted that implementation of the Lithuanian energy and climate plan through 2030 will require as much as EUR 14 billion. Investments like this are a major challenge in Lithuania, where energy poverty is at 29 per cent.

Lithuania, like every EU Member State, is striving to achieve specific targets by 2030, as determined by our energy, economic and natural conditions. By 2030, Lithuania will strive to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 9 per cent (compared to 2005), reduce energy consumption intensity at least 1.5 times (compared to 2017), and increase the share of renewable energy sources in the overall energy mix to 45 per cent.