Promoting Renewable Energy in the EU: Shifting Trends in Member State Policy Space
Article by Daniel Behn, Ole Kristian Fauchald and Laura Létourneau-Tremblay in the European Business Law Review.
Within a framework of mandatory targets, obligations to adopt plans, and a regime of country reports and monitoring, as set out in EU’s Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC, Member States of the EU have had relative autonomy in the ways and means that renewable energy generation has been promoted. This, however, might be changing; the EU is currently in the process of redesigning its policies on the promotion of renewable generation for the period of 2020 through 2030. Central is a proposal to shift binding targets from the Member State level to the EU level, and to strike a new balance between the objectives of providing Member States increased flexibility when designing policies to promote renewable energy, and to ensure coordination of national policies. In addition to challenges concerning the effective implementation of the current Directive, there appear to be a number of other factors affecting the EU’s achievement of its renewable energy goals. Most of these additional factors are external to EU renewable energy policy per se; rather they deal with the free movement of energy within the EU and between the EU and third states, and the interaction between international obligations of the EU and its Member States and the EU’s policy on renewable energy. This article examines the historical progression of EU laws and policies concerning the promotion of renewable energy, identifies many of the factors inhibiting or challenging the achievement of EU renewable energy policy goals, and analyzes whether the consequences of currently proposed shifts in renewable energy promotion policy in light of the ‘policy space’ of Member States and effectiveness in achieving new renewable targets.