Decarbonization, European Parliament elections and energy transition updates at the Utilities Standing Committee

EPSU Standing Committee on Public Utilities 4 October 2023, Brussels

(30 October 2023)  On 4 October 2023, the 59th meeting of the Standing Committee on Utilities took place. The agenda included updates on EU policies, ongoing negotiations,  and key issues, such as decarbonization, upcoming elections in the European Parliament and the Circular Economy.

The meeting started with the election of Ida Skiaker Knudsen as the new Vice-President replacing Vidar Hennum, and the announcement that Jakob Embacher and Matthew Lay are also leaving.

Following this, Jakob Embacher presented updates on the legislative process on  relative Directives, such as the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED III), as well as discussions on the proposed EU electricity reform. In this part members also focused on the state of Social Dialogue in the electricity and gas sectors, debating on what can be done to guarantee a just and smooth transition towards a greener economy without damaging consequences for workers involved in the field.

Members also discussed other aspects of the transition, such as the increase in energy efficiency of houses and the decarbonization of heating. Many models and national strategies were presented and discussed, as well as the emissions reduction goals set by the European Commission.

In the afternoon, Kieran Pradeep gave a presentation on the importance of supporting the narrative that the energy transition can work in favour of the people, a key issue that will probably be decisive in the upcoming elections for the European Parliament. The Standing Committee agreed on the necessity of creating a systematic approach that penalizes bigger companies for emissions and taxes them for their large profits. Participants discussed alternatives to fossil fuels, and the need to ensure that the burden of the transition does not fall mainly on citizens.

Pablo Sanchez spoke about the updates on the implementation of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, also analysing some of the problems that many countries have pointed out, like the lack of a capillary infrastructure system (as well as the renovation of it) and the differences between municipalities.

The discussion went on with the presentation of other key elements of the circular economy model promoted by the European Union, taking into consideration also other strategic fields of the transition, such as the waste sector, that already face difficult working conditions