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The Policy Debate on the EU Energy Efficiency Target Within the Commission

Jakob Skovgaard

The debate on reducing EU emissions by 2020 by more than the agreed 20 per cent has divided DG Climate Action and DG Energy at least since early 2010. There are two prominent cases of this: Firstly, the May 2010 Commission Communication "Analysis of options to move beyond 20% greenhouse gas emission reductions and assessing the risk of carbon leakage". Originally drafted in DG Climate Action, early versions of the Communication pushed for a step-up to 30 per cent, but this was removed after opposition from DG Energy supported by other DGs. Secondly, the proposed Energy Efficiency Directive, where the two DGs worked together. DG Climate Action called for setting aside emissions allowances, since adopting the target without a set-aside would create a surplus of allowances in the period until 2020. This was blocked by DG Energy, which resulted in a compromise text in the Directive which talks about monitoring the impact of the Directive on the ETS price. Comparing the two cases provides a crucial insight into the link between the internal politics of the European Commission and the making of EU climate-energy policy. This paper argues that the relationship between DG Climate Action and DG Energy shall be seen in the light of different bureaucratic cultures, which made DG Energy unreceptive to arguments about the necessity of an ambitious climate policy, while seeing energy efficiency as an end in itself. This had in turn a remarkable influence on policy outputs.

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