After the European Council decided a few days ago to raise the European climate target for 2030 to 55%, the agenda of today’s meeting includes the European Commission’s strategy for a radical restructuring of the energy system towards a climate-neutral economy. The European Commission has also announced that there will be comprehensive legislative proposals for the energy sector in 2021, and these will also form a focal point of today’s discussions.

Federal Minister Peter Altmaier said:

I welcome the decision by the European Council to raise the European climate target for 2030 to 55%. This interim target is important on our way to making Europe a climate-neutral continent by 2050. Clear, long-term targets now give us a unique opportunity to promote and to reconcile climate action and economic development. By investing in innovation and new clean technologies, we can safeguard and create jobs. We all need to work together in Europe as hard as we can and make further progress in all sectors. Today, the energy ministers will be discussing the role of the energy sector. We need to give greater priority to energy efficiency, to advance the use of renewables-based electricity in all sectors, and to fund the manufacture and use of renewable and low-carbon forms of energy, such as hydrogen.

The Council conclusions fostering European cooperation in offshore and other renewable energies, and the Council conclusions towards a hydrogen market for Europe, which were adopted by the Member States in the run-up to the meeting, provide an important stimulus for the future development of European energy policy and also help to promote key forward-looking technologies on the road to climate neutrality.

In the afternoon, Minister Altmaier will also be chairing the virtual ministerial meeting of the North Seas Energy Cooperation. Germany has held the chair of this forum for cooperation in 2020. The meeting between the energy ministers of the countries bordering the North Sea and EU Commissioner Simson particularly aims to discuss the EU Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy and the Commission’s follow-up initiatives for 2021. The EU strategy has already taken up many elements from the joint declaration adopted by the North Seas energy ministers in July 2020 under the German chair. For example, 2021 is to see a proposal by the European Commission for an EU Enabling Framework for cross-border offshore wind projects which will reduce the barriers currently in the way of cross-border projects. The EU Enabling Framework includes guidelines for a fair sharing of costs and benefits between the Member States, greater coordination of offshore spatial and grid planning whilst observing national competence, strengthening EU financing instruments, and helpful EU electricity market rules. At the same time, the ministerial meeting will see the chair of the North Seas Energy Cooperation being officially passed on to Belgium.