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ZEI Monitor: EU Progress 2019-2024



ZEI follows policy progress in the ten areas which have priority for EU institutions over the period 2019-2024:


Commission Priority 1: A European Green Deal


Policy areas

  • Clean energy

  • Sustainable industry

  • Building and renovating

  • Sustainable Mobility

  • Biodiversity

  • From Farm to Fork

  • Eliminating Pollution


European Commission Work Program:

Please click on the respective policy objective to learn more.

2020 (revised after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic)

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The European Green Deal

  • Strategy for Offshore Renewable Energy: On 19th of November 2020, the European Commission presented a Communication for a strategy for offshore renewable energy, proposing to increase Europe's offshore wind capacity from 12 GW at present to at least 60 GW by 2030 and to 300 GW by 2050. The Commission estimates that investments of almost 800 billion euro will be needed by 2050 to achieve the targets it has proposed. The Commission plans to ensure that the revision of the energy and environmental state aid guidelines and the Renewable Energy Directive will facilitate the cost-effective use of offshore renewable energy. (Press release)
  • Methane Strategy: On the 14th of October 2020, the European Commission adopted a methane strategy  to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Press release)

As the second biggest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide, reducing methane gas emissions is essential for achieving the EU's goal of climate neutrality by 2050. The Commission plans to work with the EU's international partners and industry to cut emissions along the supply chain. Therefore, the EU's methane strategy will focus on more accurate measurement and reporting of methane emissions (1) and the introduction of effective measures to reduce them (2):

(1) Measurement and reporting

  • The Commission will propose EU legislation on mandatory measurement, reporting and verification for all methane emissions
  • Improving the measurement of reporting of methane emissions by companies (including through sector-specific initiatives)
  • Satellite-based detection of super emitters by the EU's Copernicus program
  • Support the establishment of an international methane emissions observatory with the United Nations, including a methane emissions index

(2) Emission reduction measures

  • Support to accelerate the development of the market for biogas from sustainable sources (including pilot projects for rural and agricultural communities)
  • Reducing emissions from agriculture by promoting the best practices and technologies, changes in feed and animal husbandry, and climate-efficient agriculture
  • A commitment to improve the leak detection and repair (LDAR) in the entire fossil gas infrastructure (in its production, transport and use)
  • Present possible future legislation on gas, venting and flaring and standards for the entire supply chain and support the World Bank's "Zero Flaring" initiative to eliminate flaring
  • Review of the directives on landfills, urban wastewater treatment and sewage sludge

First, a more "cycle-oriented" energy system, of which energy efficiency is a central component. The strategy sets out concrete measures for the practical application of the "energy efficiency first" principle and for more effective use of local energy sources in buildings or communities. Significant potential is offered by the reuse of waste heat from industrial plants, data centers or other sources, and energy recovery from biowaste or sewage treatment plants. The "renovation wave" will be an important part of these reforms.

Second, more direct electrification of the end-use sectors. As the share of renewable energy is highest in the electricity sector, the EU should, if possible, make increasing use of electricity, for example for heat pumps in buildings, electric vehicles in transport or electric stoves in certain industries. A network of one million charging stations for electric vehicles should be among the visible results, along with the expansion of solar and wind power.

Third, for those sectors where electrification is difficult, the strategy proposes the use of 'cleaner fuels' such as renewable hydrogen, sustainable biofuels and biogas. The Commission plans to propose a new classification and certification system for renewable and low-carbon fuels.

  • Hydrogen Strategy: On the 8th of July 2020, the European Commission presented a "Hydrogen Strategy for a Climate Neutral Europe". It drafts a three-stage roadmap with expansion targets:

    1. from 2020 to 2024 the European Commission wants to support the installation of electrolysers with an electrolysis capacity of at least 6 gigawatts and the production of up to 1 million tons of renewable hydrogen.

    2. from 2025 to 2030, hydrogen is to become an essential part of the EU's integrated energy system by installing electrolysers for the production of renewable hydrogen with an electrolysis capacity of at least 40 gigawatts and by producing up to 10 million tons of renewable hydrogen.

    3. between 2030 and 2050, renewable hydrogen technologies should be mature and widely deployed in all sectors where decarbonization is difficult.

    (Press release)

  • Legislative Proposal: On the 4th of March 2020, the European Commission put forward a Regulation Proposal for the first European Climate Law which aims to write into law the goal set out in the European Green Deal – for Europe’s economy and society to become climate-neutral by 2050. Union-wide emissions and removals of greenhouse gases regulated in Union law shall be balanced at the latest by 2050, thus reducing emissions to net zero by that date. The Commission is empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 9 of this Regulation to supplement this Regulation by setting out a trajectory at Union level to achieve the climate-neutrality objective set out in Article 2(1) of the Regulation until 2050. (Press release)
  • On the 11th of December 2019, the European Commission published a Communication on the European Green Deal with which it aims to provide a Roadmap with actions to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and stop climate change, revert biodiversity loss and cut pollution. It outlines investments needed and financing tools available, and explains how to ensure a just and inclusive transition.

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Financing the sustainable transition

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Sustainable production and consumption

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Protecting our environment

  • General Union Environment Action Programme: On the 14th of October 2020, the European Commission put forward a Proposal for a Decision on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2030. The Proposal sets out a general action program in the field of the environment for the period up to 31 December 2030 (‘8th  EAP’). The overarching aim of the 8th EAP is to accelerate the Union’s transition to a climate-neutral, resource-efficient clean and circular economy in a just and inclusive way and achieve the environmental objectives of the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals, fully endorsing the environmental and climate objectives of the European Green Deal. The European Parliament and the Council are supposed to adopt the 8th EAP in the course of 2021.

Achieving the priority objectives of the 8th EAP will require an effective integration of environmental and climate sustainability in the European Semester of economic governance, including in the National Reform Programmes and National Recovery and Resilience plans; Phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies at Union and national level, making the best use of market-based instruments and green budgeting tools. The Commission, supported by the European Environment Agency and the European Chemicals Agency,  shall assess and report on the progress of the Union and the Member States with regard to achieving the priority objectives.

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Sustainable and smart mobility


ZEI Studies on Energy and Climate Policy

Carola Logan, EU Energieunion. Antrieb, Fortschritte und Hindernisse für „das nächste große europäische Integrationsprojekt" (Schriftenreihe des Zentrum für Europäische Integrationsforschung, Vol. 82), Nomos: Baden-Baden 2020 (Abstract). ISBN 978-3-8487-6910-0

Robert Stüwe, Das Machtproblem der EU-Energieaußenpolitik. Von der Integration zur Projektion beim Erdgasimport? (Schriftenreihe des Zentrum für Europäische Integrationsforschung, Vol. 81), Nomos: Baden-Baden 2020 (Abstract). ISBN 978-3-8487-6882-0

Sanni Kunnas, Priority 3: Driving European integration under the Spotlight of Climate: Shifting Policy Strategies under the Juncker Commission's Climate and Energy Agenda?, in: Stüwe, Robert / Panayotopoulos, Thomas (eds.): The Juncker Commission. Politicizing EU Policies (Schriftenreihe des Zentrum für Europäische Integrationsforschung, Vol. 79), Nomos: Baden-Baden 2020, p. 107-119. ISBN 978-3-8487-5597-4.

Amy Briffa, Covid-19 Pandemic and the Water Sector in the Mediterranean, in: Robert Stüwe / Sally Brammer (eds.): ZEI-MEDAC Future of Europe Observer. Post Pandemic Prospects in the Euro-Mediterranean Region, Vol. 8 No. 3 November 2020, p. 6-8. (Download)

Aiveen Donnelly, Commission Priority 1: The European Green Deal, in: Robert Stüwe / Liska Wittenberg (eds.): ZEI Future of Europe Observer. Von der Leyen: Europe's New Deal Despite Corona?, Vol. 8 No. 1 April 2020, p. 2-3. (Download)

Cilian O'Gara, European Energy Security (ZEI Disucssion Paper C 260) Bonn 2020 (Abstract) (Download)

Robert Stüwe, EU External Energy Policy in Natural Gas: A Case of Neofunctionalist Integration? (ZEI Discussion Paper C241) Bonn, 2017 (Abstract) (Download)

Alexander Gee, Competition and the Water Sector, in: Christian Koenig / Ludger Kühnhardt (eds.): Governance and Regulation in the European Union. A Reader (Schriftenreihe des Zentrum für Europäische Integrationsforschung, Vol. 77), Nomos: Baden-Baden 2017, p. 281 - 287, ISBN: 978-3-8487-4462-6

Günther H. Oettinger, Europeanising EU Energy Policy (ZEI Discussion Paper C 202) Bonn 2010 (Download

Klaus W. Grewlich, Pipelines, Drogen, Kampf ums Wasser - greift die EU-Zentralasien-Strategie? Neues „Great Game“ von Afghanistan bis zum Kaspischen Meer? (ZEI Discussion Paper C 200) Bonn 2010( Download)

ZEI Insights Policy Brief Series (2014-2019)

Jurisprudential Publications on Energy and Competition Law


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