The implementation of the EU climate package is gaining momentum against the background of the Ukraine war. Habeck urges solidarity to avoid gas shortages in winter. Concrete commitments come only slowly.

Against the background of the current gas crisis, the EU countries have agreed on new rules to promote the expansion of renewable energies and energy efficiency. «Today’s Energy Council was very successful. Two central decisions for more climate protection could be united, »said Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck on Monday. This is elementary in order to make the EU less dependent on fossil fuels and to promote climate protection.

Specifically, the EU ministers responsible for energy in Luxembourg agreed that 40 percent of the energy in the EU must come from renewable sources by the end of the decade, instead of the 32 percent previously planned. Among other things, the projects should be in the “overriding public interest”, i.e. they should be given more weight in court cases, for example, and be approved more quickly. At the same time, final energy consumption is to be reduced by 9 percent by 2030 compared to the 2020 level.

This left the EU countries behind the more ambitious proposals of the EU Commission: In view of the Ukraine war, it had proposed raising the target for renewable energy to 45 percent and for energy saving to 13 percent.

The EU Parliament still has to determine its position before the institutions can start the final negotiations to implement the plans. Both are part of the EU Commission’s “Fit for 55” climate package. It aims to reduce climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, thereby contributing to the overall goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Advice on the war situation in Ukraine

The ministers also discussed the energy situation in connection with the war in Ukraine. “No country can depend on itself,” said Habeck. “A supply crisis in one country leads to an economic crisis in the other country.” Security of supply is currently guaranteed. In the medium term, however, there is a risk of a scenario in which reductions would have to be prescribed, said Habeck. “In my opinion, that would then lead to a serious economic crisis in Europe and in Germany.” It is essential to avoid this.

“We are committed and dependent on solidarity here,” said the Green politician in relation to the gas supply. Germany is ready to support neighboring countries such as the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland and France – and vice versa. “We wouldn’t make any progress at all if we couldn’t fall back on France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway in this situation, who are supporting us,” said Habeck. Algeria is also increasing the amount of gas delivered via Italy.

According to Habeck, the most important means are concrete solidarity agreements that states must conclude with each other according to EU law in order to regulate mutual aid. For example, Germany has signed contracts with Austria and Denmark for solidarity-based gas supplies. However, signing more does not seem easy: “It’s a bit of a tough business,” admitted Habeck. He had agreed preliminary contracts with Eastern European and South Eastern European colleagues. “It would be better if we gave ourselves a push there too.”

At the same time, the ministers gave the new gas storage law the final green light so that it can come into force. This means that the gas storage facilities in the EU must be 80 percent full by November.