On 1stJuly, Austria succeeded Bulgaria in the Presidency of the Council of the EU and it seems to take special interest in the environment and energy sectors. According to the now officially published provisional agenda for the EU Council meetings, the Austrian Presidency aims to reach agreements in – amongst others – “setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars and for new light commercial vehicles as part of the Union’s integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light- duty vehicles and amending Regulation”and in new common rules for the internal market in electricity.
Austria’s focus on energy and environment is especially pertinent, following the very recent endorsement by EU ambassadors of the provisional agreement on the revision of the renewable energy directive, which was reached during the Bulgarian Presidency. The goal of this new regulatory framework is not only to lead the EU’s transition towards clean energy sources, such as wind, solar, hydro, tidal, geothermal, and biomass energy. The target is to have a 32% of EU-wide energy consumption coming from renewable sources by 2030.
On the same wavelength, the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) has just launched a new programme named Mission Innovation Champions in order to celebrate and support innovative individuals who are accelerating the transition to clean energy. The programme is addressed to researchers and innovators who are dedicated to developing new ways of making energy cleaner, cheaper and more reliable. Applications are open until 10 September 2018.
The EU wants to maintain its leading role in the fight against climate change and in meeting the goals set by the Paris Agreement and it appears to be taking measures to ensure that. Notably, in June 2018, the Commission proposed to increase EU funding to support the environment and climate action by almost 60% for the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027. The agreement on the next EU budget is to be reached within 2019.
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