by Beatriz Ceu
The European commissioner for energy, Kadri Simson, said on Thursday (22 April) that member states should take advantage of the European Union’s historic €1.8 trillion budget and recovery fund to invest in energy efficiency.
“Now is the time to take advantage of the EU’s historical budget and recovery package” to invest in energy efficiency, Kadri Simson said at a joint press conference with Portugal’s environment minister Joao Pedro Matos Fernandes, which took place after an informal council of energy ministers.
“I am delighted to hear that energy efficiency is well represented in the drafts of the member states’ Recovery and Resilience Plans (RRP). As I emphasised to ministers, this must remain in the final plans across the EU,” Simson said, adding that “thousands of projects will see the light of day thanks to the recovery plans”.
Noting that “buildings account for 40% of total energy consumption” in the EU, the commissioner said that the “Renovation Wave” initiative, which aims to rehabilitate buildings in Europe, could “contribute significantly to achieving” the EU’s 2030 climate goals.
Earlier on Wednesday, EU negotiators struck a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 as part of a broader agreement on the European Climate Law.
“But the challenge for most countries is complex. Thousands of buildings have to reduce their energy consumption,” she said, expressing “encouragement” at the “determination of ministers” on energy efficiency.
For the EU to meet its 2050 carbon neutrality target, “a mix between robust commitment and regulatory measures” is needed, she added.
The European Commissioner also welcomed the Portuguese government for “submitting the first official Recovery and Resilience Plan today” and said she hoped “other countries will do so soon”.
Portugal delivered its RRP to the European Commission today, through the official IT platform, becoming the first EU member state to send the final version.
The document provides for projects worth €16.6 billion, of which €13.9 billion are non-repayable grants. The Portuguese government has said it is still considering the possibility of resorting to an additional €2.3 billion in loans.
In February this year, the EU Council adopted the regulation creating the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism, the main instrument of the fund to recover the economy from the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, valued at €672.5 billion.
*first published in: www.euractiv.com