THREE QUESTIONS TO VICE-PRESIDENT ŠEFČOVIČ
Maroš Šefčovič is the Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the Energy Union. Here, he explains why he has started a second Energy Union tour around Europe and how it ties in with EU Sustainable Energy Week.
What is the Energy Union tour? Could you also tell us about its origins and its impact from previous years?
It is extremely important that the debate around EU policies does not remain in Brussels ─ that it reaches the Member States, cities, civil society and citizens.
That is why, shortly after we presented the Energy Union back in February 2015, I launched my first Energy Union tour. Back then, my purpose was to 'campaign' for the objectives of the Energy Union, namely to provide every European with energy that is secure, sustainable and competitive. The result was a wide endorsement from across industries and governments.
Since then, we have presented the vast majority of the legislation for making the Energy Union a reality, so we can now move into implementation. I have therefore just launched the second Energy Union tour. This time its purpose takes into account the more advanced stage we are at. Now is the time to see, show, and push for concrete results on the ground.
Where are you planning to visit this year and what will be your key messages?
The Tour will cover all Member States but the emphasis this time will be to go even further, beyond capital cities. I would like to see and support successful projects, at the local level, from across Europe. There are incredible European initiatives that create synergies between energy, climate, mobility, buildings, innovation, digital innovation, the circular economy, air quality, water, waste management, agriculture, etc. The EU can help these projects, not only with funds, but also by creating a stronger network. They can learn from each other's experience and pool resources together.
The second purpose of the tour will be to meet with national governments and remind them of the importance of preparing their National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) – still due this year. This will allow us to aggregate their results and ensure we can meet our common energy and climate targets.
Last but not least, we need young energies in Europe. I would therefore like to meet with European millennials: listen to their ideas, their concerns, their contributions. Millennials bring a new 'culture' of doing things that is more connected, more modern, often more climate-conscious. I think we can all benefit from taking more of these ideas on board.
How does the Energy Union tour tie in with EU Sustainable Energy Week? How can it inspire policy conference contributors and Energy Day organisers – or vice versa?
The Energy Union tour and EU Sustainable Energy Week put different tools in place but they converge in their objective ─ to advance successful sustainability practices across Europe.
I therefore very much welcome this annual exercise by both its organisers and its participants. Your insight, experience and ambition are exactly what Europe needs. You play an important role, not only in reducing our carbon footprint, but also in modernising and energising our entire economy and society.
I wish you a very successful EU Sustainable Energy Week 2017 and look forward to its results!
“The Energy Union tour and EU Sustainable Energy Week … converge in their objective ─ to advance successful sustainability practices across Europe.”