Addressing the Informal Council for Energy Bruno Hranić, Mayor of the Municipality of Vidovec and member of the Committee of the Regions, argued that the EU must commit to investing into locally sustainable energy sources to help liberalise its energy market. He argued that the monopolisation of the sector was stifling competition and more must be done to support small-scale energy companies. If Europe was to reduce its energy import-dependency and deliver on its promises on climate change, access to EU funds must be simplified and directed towards energy efficient projects locally.
Referring to the EU's climate policy roadmap to 2030, Mr. Hranić said: "It is disappointing that the EU did not take the opportunity to set obligatory binding targets on energy efficiency. Nevertheless, with spiraling costs and growing energy poverty, energy efficiency must be at the heart of the EU's energy plans. Moreover, for the sake of renewable and energy efficiency measures alike, we need to ease the financing conditions to allow local sustainable energy providers to flourish".
During the meeting Mr. Hranić identified two key areas of the EU's energy market policy that were in need of urgent reform. Sufficient financing targeted locally was needed to support the energy transition. In line with the CoRs' previous positions, he proposed using European Investment Bank and EU Structural Funds be directed towards sustainable local energy with priority given to energy efficiency projects and renewable energy. The EU must simplify procedures to improve access to funding opportunities and avoid crippling effect of new state aid rules on small scale local energy investors.
Secondly, the EU must promote more responsible and efficient energy consumption that encourages small-scale production, smart grid development and strong demand response in distribution networks. The Committee argues that there must be a greater urgency to upgrade existing grids and encourage smart grids across Europe. This would aid the EU's decarbonisation plans and contribute to its commitment to becoming more resource efficient.