Modern governance systems in the EU member states are facing mounted difficulties in implementing requirements from the EU institutions regarding the so-called REPowerEU chapters in national recovery and resilience plans. The difficulties are not only connected to new and rather complicated character of new obligations; they require restructuring of national economies according to new global and European challenges.
The European Parliament in a first reading in mid-February 2023, revealed the complex situation that the member states’ governance structures are going to face in the near future. The focal point is that the national RRPs (the recovery and resilience plans) should include the so-called REPowerEU chapters. The latter are to contribute effectively to addressing all or a significant subset of the challenges identified in the relevant country-specific recommendations, including the country-specific recommendations adopted under the 2022 European Semester cycle which refer inter alia to the energy challenges that most of the EU member states are facing.
The EU states should submit their REPowerEU chapters in the RRPs in the form of an addendum to recovery and resilience plan. A REPowerEU chapter should contain an explanation of how the measures included therein are coherent with the efforts of the state concerned to achieve the EU-wide REPowerEU objectives, taking into account the measures included in the already adopted Council implementing decision, as well as an explanation of the overall contribution of those measures and other nationally funded and Union-funded complementary or accompanying measures to the REPowerEU objectives.
REPowerEU chapters should, inter alia, contribute to increasing the share of sustainable and renewable energies in the national energy mix and to addressing energy infrastructure bottlenecks. As regards natural gas infrastructure, the reforms and investments in the REPowerEU chapters to diversify supply away from Russia should build on the needs currently identified through the assessment conducted and agreed by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas, established in the spirit of solidarity as regards security of supply, and take into account strategic energy security needs of the EU states concerned and the reinforced preparedness measures, including energy storage, taken to adapt to new geopolitical threats, without undermining the long-term contribution to the green transition.
Reskilling and upskilling people
Investments in infrastructure and technologies alone are not sufficient to ensure a reduction in dependency on fossil fuels in view of existing labour and skill shortages. In that context, it is already possible to dedicate resources to the reskilling and upskilling of people, to further equipping the workforce with green skills as well as to the research and the development of innovative solutions linked to the green transition.
Hence, the EU member states are encouraged to further invest in reskilling and upskilling, especially for green and related digital skills and technologies, to ensure that no one will be left behind throughout the green transition.
Where a EU member state includes in its REPowerEU chapter measures related to reskilling and upskilling of people, the Commission should consider whether such measures significantly contribute to supporting a requalification of the workforce towards green and related digital skills.
Connection to energy and climate
The REPowerEU chapters should be consistent with the national energy and climate plans, as well as with the European Union’s climate targets set out in Regulation (EU) 2021/1119.
Reflecting the European Green Deal as Europe’s sustainable growth strategy and the importance of tackling climate change in line with the Union’s commitments to implement the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (adopted in 2021) contributes to the mainstreaming of climate action and environmental sustainability and to the achievement of an overall target of 30 % of Union budget expenditure supporting climate objectives.
In this regard, the measures supported by the Facility (in line with the Regulation 2021/241) of the European Parliament and of the Council, which established the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the ‘Facility’) and included in the national RRPs should contribute to the green transition, including biodiversity, or to addressing the challenges resulting from, and should account for an amount that represents at least 37 % of the recovery and resilience plan’s total allocation and for at least 37 % of the total estimated costs of the measures in the REPowerEU chapter based on the methodology for climate tracking set out in Annex VI to Regulation (EU) 2021/241.
Source: Regulation (EU) 2021/241 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 February 2021 establishing the Recovery and Resilience Facility (OJ L 57, 18.2.2021, p. 17).
During the first reading, the EP’s members noted that the “methodology should be used accordingly for measures that cannot be directly assigned to an intervention field listed in that Annex. If the Member State concerned and the Commission agree, it should be possible to increase the coefficients for support for the climate objectives to 40 % or 100 % for individual investments, as explained in the recovery and resilience plan, to take account of accompanying reform measures that credibly increase their impact on the climate objectives.
To that end, it should be possible for the states to increase the coefficients for support for the climate objectives up to a total amount of 3 % of the allocation of the recovery and resilience plan for individual investments. The Facility should support activities that fully respect the climate and environmental standards and priorities of the Union and the principle of ‘do no significant harm’.
Council Regulation (EU) 2022/1854 introduces a temporary solidarity contribution for the European companies and permanent establishments with activities in the crude petroleum, natural gas, coal and refinery sectors applicable in all EU states. Therefore, the states are invited to use a proportion of the proceeds generated by that temporary contribution to foster synergies and complementarities with the reforms and investments in their REPowerEU chapters in a coherent manner, for the funding of measures to be implemented at national level in accordance with the REPowerEU objective.
In order to take account of Union budgetary constraints, payments by the Commission to such operations under the dedicated priorities should be capped at € 5 billion in 2023.
More in: Council Regulation (EU) 2022/1854 of 6 October 2022 on an emergency intervention to address high energy prices (OJ L 261 I, 7.10.2022, p. 1).
Additional financial support
As to the allocation of resources to the member states in the form of additional non-repayable financial support under the Facility available for each EU member state, the legislators suggested the following amounts out of € 20 billion: (the share of the total in % and amount in thousand euros): Belgium 1,41 % and 282 139; Bulgaria 2,40 and 480 047; Czechia 3,41 % and 681 565; Denmark 0,65 % and 130 911; Germany 10,45 % and 2 089 555; Estonia 0,42 % and 83 423; Ireland 0,45 % and 89 598; Greece 3,85 % and 769 222; Spain 12,93 % and 2 586 147; France 11,60 % and 2 320 955; Croatia 1,35 % and 269 441; Italy 13,80 % and 2 760 000; Cyprus 0,26 % and 52 487; Latvia 0,62 and 123 983; Lithuania 0,97 % and 194 020; Luxembourg 0,15 % 30 000; Hungary 3,51 % and 701 565; Malta 0,15 % and 30 000; Netherlands 2,28 % and 455 042; Austria 1,05 % and 210 620; Poland 13,80 % and 2 760 000; Portugal 3,52 % and 704 420; Romania 7,00 % and 1 399 326; Slovenia 0,58 % and 116 910; Slovakia 1,83 % and 366 959; Finland 0,56 % and 112 936, and Sweden 0,99 % and198 727.
Main aspects on REPowerEU chapters
The national chapter shall aim to contribute to at least one of the following objectives:
a) improving energy infrastructure and facilities to meet immediate security of supply needs for gas, including liquefied natural gas, notably to enable diversification of supply in the interest of the Union as a whole; measures concerning the oil infrastructure and facilities necessary to meet immediate security of supply needs may be included in the REPowerEU chapter of a EU state only where that state has been subject to the exceptional temporary derogation in Article 3 (4) of Regulation (EU) No 833/2014, due to its specific dependence on crude oil and its geographical situation;
b) boosting energy efficiency in buildings and critical energy infrastructure, decarbonising industry, increasing the production and uptake of sustainable biomethane and of renewable or fossil-free hydrogen, and increasing the share and accelerating the deployment of renewable energy;
c) addressing energy poverty;
d) incentivising reduction of energy demand;
e) addressing internal and cross-border energy transmission and distribution bottlenecks, supporting electricity storage and accelerating the integration of renewable energy sources, and supporting zero-emission transport and its infrastructure, including railways; and
f) supporting the objectives set out in points (a e) through an accelerated requalification of the workforce towards green and related digital skills, as well as through support of the value chains in critical raw materials and technologies linked to the green transition.
The EU legislators in the EP recognized that there are existing bottlenecks and problems in the optimal realisation of the EU measures. Among most common obstacles are: = lengthy administrative procedures to the deployment of renewable energy; among barriers are the complexities of the applicable rules for site selection and administrative authorisations for projects; = the complexity and duration of the assessment of the environmental impact of the projects; = grid connection issues; as well as = staffing constraints of the permit-granting authorities or grid operators.
Thus, further simplification and speeding up of the administrative permit-granting processes for renewables and related power grid infrastructure is necessary to ensure that the EU states achieve adopted energy and climate targets. Recommendations were made to Member States in the context of the 2022 European Semester to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy. As announced in the communication of the Commission of 18 May 2022 entitled ‘REPowerEU Plan’, the Commission has proposed to amend Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council on energy from renewable sources, aiming to establish a faster permit-granting process for renewables. In addition, Council Regulation (EU) 2022/2577, which lays down a framework to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, has introduced temporary emergency rules.
More in: Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (OJ L 328, 21.12.2018, p. 82). See also: Council Regulation (EU) 2022/2577 of 22 December 2022 laying down a framework to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy (OJ L 335, 29.12.2022, p. 36).
General reference on the EP’s first reading (14.02.2023) in: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2023-0036_EN.pdf