BRUSSELS, Belgium (Friday 28th October 2022): This week, key European Parliament Committee votes took place on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), an EU funding mechanism. While not the final stage of the legislative process, the votes act as critical steps in the revision of key EU renewable energy laws.
Financing a Renewable Recovery
On Tuesday 25th October, the European Parliament Committee on Budgets (BUDG) and Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) formally adopted their report on the RRF. The move would allow EU member states to use the RRF to fund REPowerEU plans to disentangle the continent from Russian gas, and directs funding toward the delivery of REPowerEU renewable energy goals.
The vote also means that the “do no significant harm” investment rule should apply to spending RRF REPowerEU money. Amongst other aspects, this largely prevents financing being used to negatively impact climate change mitigation, pollution prevention, biodiversity protection, or the circular economy. Effectively, ECON and BUDG have adopted additional safeguards to prevent fossil fuel infrastructure from being funded through the RRF mechanism and ensure money can be directed to deploying renewable projects.
“The latest votes in the European Parliament are an important step to ensure that Europe does not unnecessarily invest in fossil fuels, and that RRF funding is reserved for the true solutions to the energy crisis – renewables. Beyond deployment, we should ensure that some RRF funding is used for Europe’s strategic energy resilience through the latest European Commission target of 30 GW of solar PV manufacturing by 2025.”
The text adopted by BUDG and ECON also includes an added focus on stakeholder consultation in the drafting of plans to use RRF funding, as well as encouraging the European Commission’s thorough monitoring of the use of funds. The text will be debated and voted on by the full House during the plenary session on November 9-10th. The outcome of the plenary vote will constitute a negotiating mandate for the upcoming talks with EU governments.
Accelerating Project Permitting
On Tuesday 25th October, the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted on the new REPowerEU provisions in the Renewable Energy Directive. ENVI has exclusive competence on matters related to the protection of the environment, such as the definition of go-to areas and the environmental assessment.
The vote formalised the ENVI committee position on the Renewable Energy Directive, integrating new elements such as supporting staffing and skilling, and the reinforcement of public participation. The report extends of the definition ‘go-to areas’ for renewable projects, as well as including specific provisions tackling the simplification of procedures for small-scale PV projects. Notably, the vote offers an exemption for hydrogen and grid improvement projects from environmental impact assessments.
“It is great that this key European Parliament Committee has recognised the crucial importance of staffing and skilling for the acceleration of renewable energy projects. We also welcome the robust definition of ‘go-to areas’ alongside more straightforward permitting processes for smaller PV projects. We do remain cautious regarding the exemptions of the Environmental Impact Assessments, which are a good tool to ensure the public acceptance of solar projects.”
The text will be now passed onto the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy which will vote on the text by the end of November. The discussions will be sealed by a vote in a plenary session of the European Parliament.
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