German Energy Strategy Under Threat From EU “Paradigm Shift”

  • Date: 25/03/14
  • Oliver Geden and Severin Fischer, Energy Transition

Negotiations between 28 Member States on the EU’s key Energy and Climate Policy Objectives for the post-2020 period are still at an early stage and might only be concluded after the 2015 UN Climate Conference in Paris.

Although a basic structure for a compromise (see table below) has emerged even before the Commission’s proposal in January 2014, it is impossible to predict concrete outcomes. Only roughly two-thirds of the Member States have already expressed clear preferences; many Central and Eastern European countries are taking a wait-and-see approach. The European Parliament will only come into play when the 28 heads of state and government have unanimously decided on overarching targets, which will then make it necessary to adapt policy instruments such as emissions trading in the context of legislative procedures.

Key elements of a negotiation compromise1

The course and outcomes of the negotiations over the future of EU energy and climate policy in Brussels will hugely affect Germany’s energy transition (Energiewende) policy. First, the German government will have to develop a negotiation strategy that promises success on the EU level but that can also be presented convincingly to the German public. Second, it will have to deal with the contradictions that are likely to arise between the EU and the German policy framework. The more the EU slows down the pace of transformation, and assuming that German ambitions remain high in the core energy transition areas, the greater these contradictions will be.

At present, it appears highly likely that the 28 heads of state and government of the EU Member States will set only a moderate emissions reduction target and will not agree on a new renewables target for the entire energy sector. Such a decision by the European Council would create pressure to modify some German Energiewende targets.

Full analysis