26 Nov 2014   |   Viewpoint

VIDEO: Europe should set higher targets for renewable energy

A move to renewable sources of power needs to be top of the agenda. The Commission’s new €315B Fund for Strategic Investment could help with this, says Martina Werner, MEP

Martina Werner is one of many MEPs who thinks the European Union should do more to help member states make the transition to clean energy.

A native of Kassel, the German city where the Brothers Grimm had their most productive period of collecting and recording folk tales, Werner says promoting this transition will dominate the majority of her work on the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee over the next five years.

In common with her colleagues in the Socialists and Democrats bloc, she would like to see a higher target for renewable energy than the current figure of 27 per cent agreed as part of the EU’s 2030 climate and energy package in October.

In fact, she favours a significantly more ambitious target saying, “Maybe in ten years, we’ll achieve the aim of 90 or 100 per cent sustainable energy.”

This is a far cry from the scenario outlined in the recently released report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report says that even if investment in low-carbon electricity and energy efficiency were to rise by several hundred billion euros a year before 2030, a target of 80 per cent of energy requirements being met by renewables is only achievable by 2050 - if even then.

Werner thinks that the European Commission’s €315 billion investment plan to kick-start sluggish growth, announced on Wednesday, should help pay for this. “Renewable energy would be a great chance for us to get more industrial production in Europe and create more jobs too,” she said.

As a former business consultant in Kassel, Werner believes there should be targeted help for small companies. “It’s very necessary that SMEs get financial support from the EU,” she said, while red tape should be kept to a minimum. 

Intuitive step

As for the new Commission, it’s so far, so good, for Werner. She has been impressed by the new President, Jean-Claude Juncker. “His job is not very easy but he’s doing it very well,” she said.

The new-look executive, with features such as an added middle management layer of senior Commissioners and a stronger emphasis on grouping expertise and themes into clusters, is an intuitive step, in Werner’s view.

“It’s not good if Commissioners are not working together; I think Juncker wants to overturn silo thinking,” she said.

Video diary 

What made Werner, a first time MEP, want to come to work in the European Parliament? “I think being an MEP is one of the most interesting jobs you can have,” she says. “It’s a very big job.”

But some people go to Brussels with high hopes and see their impact dissolve a little in a chamber with 750 other voices. Werner aims to do a better job than some of her forebears in communicating the work she’s doing, by producing a weekly video diary.

“I think one of the biggest problems is that member states don’t know what people in Brussels are doing. This leads to misconceptions. It all needs to become more transparent,” she said.

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