Brexit may have happened, but activity in Europe will still affect the Scottish electrical industry. SELECT will continue to play a key role, working with European counterparts to shape the future
SELECT plays an important role in the direction of EuropeOn, the association for electrical contractors in Europe, through our participation in several working groups, notably the Policy Working Group and the Technical Working Group.
As SELECT’s Director of Technical Services, I attend regular meetings of both working groups, the last of which were held in Brussels in November last year. Whether we are EU members or not, much of what is being decided at EU level will have a knock-on effect on what we do in Scotland. I believe it is vital that we play a part in shaping European policy in the areas of climate change, adoption of renewable technologies and e-mobility.
In much the same way that BSI will continue to participate fully in the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), adopting international and European standards at UK level, SELECT will continue to participate fully in the activities of EuropeOn.
Since its rebranding from AIE to EuropeOn, activity in a number of key policy areas continues at pace. The UK’s exit from the EU on 31 January does not mean that we should simply ignore what the European Commission is planning. Indeed, much of it aligns with the views of the UK and Scottish Government in terms of carbon reduction targets designed to mitigate the effects of climate change, the growth of renewable technologies and moves to electrify transportation.
Most recently, EU heads of state and government met in Brussels to discuss the European Commission strategic vision for a climate neutral Europe by 2050. Presidents and prime ministers endorsed the objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
Only Poland declared that they cannot commit to implementing this objective, so at the EU Summit in June 2020 there will be another discussion about climate neutrality and specifically about Poland’s position.The Commission will:
Propose a ‘European Climate Law’, possibly in March 2020, to make the climate neutrality objective binding
Prepare a proposal for Europe’s long-term strategy for submission to the United Nations Framework for the Climate Change Convention.
The Commission has also just released the first tangible documents on the European Green Deal that will shape all upcoming policy initiatives at EU level.
The Green Deal Communication and its Annex outline the actions that the Commission will take in the next months and years. These actions will notably boost building renovations and accelerate the deployment of renewable energies as well as electromobility solutions.
They will create growth and open up new business opportunities for companies operating in the electrotechnical sector.
The most relevant initiatives announced by the European Commission are:
Climate Neutrality & Energy
Propose plan for moving the 2030 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reduction target which is currently set at 40% up to 50% or even 55% in summer 2020
Propose revision of relevant legislation to deliver on increased climate ambition, including Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Directives by June 2021
Present a strategy for smart sector integration in 2020, including electricity, heating, gas, transport and industry
Engage with Member States in a ‘renovation wave’ of public and private buildings, and work with stakeholders on a new initiative to address barriers to renovation in 2020
Review the Construction Products Regulations, “to ensure that design of new and renovated buildings is in line with the needs of the circular economy”
Proposed revision of the Energy Taxation Directive by June 2021 to end fossil-fuel subsidies
Review the state-aid guidelines covering energy and environment in 2021.
Propose a strategy for sustainable and smart mobility in 2020
Launch funding calls supporting the deployment of public charging points from 2020
Propose revision of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive in 2021
Propose revision of CO2 emissions standards for cars and vans by June 2021
Take action to oblige docked ships to use shore-side electricity
Propose to decrease free allowances allocated to airlines, extend the Emissions Trading Scheme to the maritime sector, and investigate how to include road transport
Support the drive to install one million electric vehicle (EV) charging points across Europe by 2025.
Put forward a Just Transition Mechanism including, among others, a Just Transition Fund, in January 2020, notably to support the move of workers from fossil to green activities giving them access to reskilling opportunities
The European Social Fund Plus will help Europe’s workforce acquire the skills they need to transfer from declining sectors to growing sectors
The Skills Agenda and the Youth Guarantee will be updated to enhance employability in the green economy.
Last but not least, following two letters from EuropeOn to policymakers, EuropeOn has:
Co-signed with other leading EU associations on #Skills4climate and building renovations. Importantly for SELECT members, this highlights the range of skills available to buyers who are looking to install renewable technologies as well as the level of upskilling that might be needed to continue to support these technologies.
Co-signed a letter to the Climate Action Network, one of the ‘Green 10’ major environmental associations, calling for a higher 2030 GHG reduction target of 65%.
For more information about the work of EuropeOn, go to europe-on.org