Building bridges between competitiveness and cohesion policies
“Accelerating change at local level for effective delivery of sustainable energy solutions” – this was the theme of a two-day seminar organised jointly by the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme (IEE) and the INTERACT programme. Aim of the event was to bring together practitioners in the field of local and regional energy planning from the IEE programme and from 12 European Territorial Cooperation programmes for them to explore synergies and ways how to use and build on each others project results, but also to give them an opportunity to promote their work outside their funding programme.
In his welcome speech, the Head of Unit responsible for the Intelligent Energy Europe IEE Programme, Vincent Berruto, expressed the wish to build bridges between the “Competitiveness and innovation” driven DG Energy and the “Territorial cohesion” oriented DG Regio. As a matter of fact, if it is true that energy (supply, distribution and consumption) is high on the European agenda, there is still a lot to be done to coordinate among the various initiatives of the European Union that work towards the EU 2020 targets in the field of energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources. As an important step in this direction, the workshop brought together representatives and leaders of several IEE projects as well as European territorial cooperation projects: from MED, Central Europe, Alpine Region, Baltic Sea Region, Interreg Øresund-Kattegat-Skagerak OKS, Germany-Netherlands, etc. I was invited to introduce the most recent activities of the URBACT II programme in this field, the results of the CASH and LINKS networks as well as the thematic paper produced by the workstream “Building energy efficiency in European cities” of URBACT’s capitalisation process.
The event was opened by two policy key note speeches.
Marie Donnelly, Director for Renewables, Research and Innovation, Energy Efficiency at DG Energy pointed out that Europe’s high dependence on energy imports (75% of the energy we consume in the EU is imported) are threatening Europe’s economy and security of supply. Energy is costly and the EU is a price taker, not a price setter. This means that our industry and consumers are left vulnerable to the fluctuations of the market, which makes moving towards a low carbon economy more and more urgent. Donnelly also underlined how the achievement of the EU 2020 targets depends largely on action at local level, while the EU has the role to guide and support these actions. Having identified that 40% of energy consumption is for heating and cooling, 40% for transport and only the rest for industry and appliances, it is clear that heating and cooling represents the most cost efficient energy saving potential. Saving in heating and cooling means saving money, safeguarding the environment and creating jobs. Energy Performance Contracting is the way to help the public sector invest into energy efficiency without the need of big upfront payments. That is why DG Energy is promoting an EPC Campaign in all EU countries.
Colin Wolfe, Head of Unit for European Transnational and Interregional Co-operation at DG Regional and Urban Policy. He noted that in the current programme period over 400 ETC projects are working in the field of energy and around 900 million Euros of national and ERDF-funding can be linked to these ETC-energy projects, reflecting the importance of the topic also in Territorial Co-operation. Both introductory speeches gave an idea of the relevant engagement of the Commission to support actions to increase energy efficiency and promote the use renewable sources for energy production.
Martin Eibl (EACI) illustrated the key data of the Intelligent Energy Europe in the programming period 2007-13. 730m € of funding has been paid out in this period to over 700 projects on energy efficiency, renewables and sustainable transport, focusing on promotion and dissemination of available solutions. These projects work on creating favourable markets conditions, shaping policy developments and implementation, preparing the ground for investment, building capacity and skills, informing stakeholders and fostering political commitment. IEE has also supported a number of energy related initiatives in the framework of CEN, the Covenant of Mayors, the Managenergy portal, the EU sustainable energy week, project development support tools within ELENA (in cooperation with CEB, KfW and EIB), the Mobilising local energy Investment (MLEI) initiative and more than 400 energy agencies throughout Europe.
The first session was also used as an occasion to present an analysis of the contribution of ETC to European Energy Targets prepared by INTERACT and illustrated with catching graphics by Katerina Kring and Nathalie Wergles. The introductory speeches were followed by 3 interactive workshops that illustrated a huge variety of projects, different approaches and concrete results, for which there is here definitely not space enough.
Presentations and pictures of the event are available on the Managenergy website. Outputs of the workshops will be published in a publication which will certainly become a reference for all the European professionals and public administrations engaged in energy efficiency and renewables. As the representative of the Erasmus University said we are not just throwing manuals over the fence.
This article has been published first on the URBACT Blog