- Status of the legislative process
- What happens, when and why?
- What is in the package?
- Key disputes to look out for
- Experts to contact for interviews and background, listed by policy field
- Further reading
1. Status of the legislative process
After nearly two years of legislative process, EU institutions took the final legislative step for several of the law reforms in April 2023. They greenlighted the ETS revision, the introduction of a carbon border tax (CBAM) and the Social Climate Fund. These reforms can now be enacted.
EU institutions also reached a provisional agreement on the Renewable Energy Directive, aiming to raise the EU's binding renewable target for 2030 to a minimum of 42.5%. Parliament and Council now have to offically greenlight this agreement.
Several other items are still being negotiated, such as the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive.
Find out more about the status of legislative items on the European Parliament's "legislative train schedule" website.
2. What happens, when and why?
The European Union has agreed on a more ambitious 2030 climate target and now aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by “at least 55” percent. However, setting a target is one thing, reaching it is another.
That is why the EU has embarked on a lengthy legislative journey to introduce new or adapted measures and instruments to bring down emissions. With the Fit for 55 package, the European Commission has prepared proposals for law reforms it deems necessary for the bloc to reach the new target. It presented the first batch of drafts in July 2021 and the second batch in December.
The package is the starting point for member state governments (EU Council), the European Parliament and the European Commission to debate and decide a complete overhaul of EU energy and climate legislation over the coming months and years. The new climate target and the Fit for 55 package are key components of the bloc’s green growth strategy – the European Green Deal.
The European Parliament has debated key elements of the package in the first half of 2022 and is set to vote on some of those on 8 June: the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and with it the proposed new system for transport and buildings (ETS2), the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR), the Social Climate Fund (SCF) and the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) Regulation.
Further plenary votes are envisioned for autumn 2022. The Council of member state governments has debated the package and adopted a position on some files, but others are yet to be decided - including many of the above-mentioned elements the Parliament votes on 8 June. The French Council presidency (first half of 2022) has said it aims to finish discussions on the CBAM and other elements by the end of its term, so member states could agree on a general position on several files at the Environment Council meeting on 28 June.
3. What is in the package?
The European Commission presented these elements of the package on 14 July. Some of them are reforms of existing regulation, others are new proposals.
- Revision of the EU Emission Trading System (EU ETS), including revision of the EU ETS Directive concerning aviation, maritime and CORSIA
- Revision of the Regulation on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF)
- Effort Sharing Regulation
- Amendment of the Renewable Energy Directive to implement the ambition of the new 2030 climate target
- Amendment of the Energy Efficiency Directive to implement the ambition of the new 2030 climate target
- ReFuelEU Aviation - sustainable aviation fuels
- FuelEU Maritime – green European maritime space
- Revision of the Directive on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure
- Amendment of the Regulation setting CO2 emission standards for cars and vans
- Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism
- Revision of the Energy Tax Directive
- Climate Action Social Facility
On 15 December 2021, the Commission presented the second part of the package with these elements:
- Revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive
- Revision of the regulation on the internal markets for renewable and natural gases and for hydrogen
- Directive on common rules for the internal markets in renewable and natural gases and in hydrogen
- Regulation on methane emissions reduction in the energy sector
Links to the Commission proposals from 2021
Website Delivering the European Green Deal (including legislative proposals)
4. Key disputes to look out for
The Commission proposed to reform the existing EU ETS so that it leads to a 61 percent reduction in the covered sectors by 2030 (compared to 2005). Parliament is likely to demand more, as its environment committee proposed a 67 percent cut. In addition, the Commission aims to phase out the free allocation of emission allowances to aviation and to the sectors that are to be covered by the planned CBAM. This has been a major moot point, especially for industry.
Establishing emissions trading in transport and buildings (ETS2) – The Commission proposed to set up a second emissions trading system for these sectors, but several members states and parliamentary groups have criticised this plan. Germany has been a key supporter of the proposal. It introduced a carbon price for these sectors in 2021. A key criticism is that such a system would overly burden lower-income citizens, especially at a time when fuel prices are at record highs – a situation that is exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine. European lawmakers agreed a compromise proposal, which would see private individuals exempted from the CO2 price for the foreseeable future.
The Commission has proposed that a quarter of the revenues from the new emissions trading system should fill the new so-called Social Climate Fund, which states would have to use to help citizens finance investments in energy efficiency, new heating and cooling systems or clean mobility. There have been many debates about what the Social Climate Fund should or should not finance, and whether funds could be withheld if countries do not adhere to democracy and the rule of law. Should private citizens be exempt from the ETS2, less money would be available for the fund. NGOs and social groups have said that the funds should be used to help low-income households.
The Commission proposed that all new passenger cars must produce zero CO2 emissions at their tailpipe by 2035. There has been strong lobbying from some industry players to soften this and the interim targets for emissions from cars, for example by allowing combustion of green fuels, arguing this would be climate neutral. The conservative EPP group in the European Parliament has sought to replace the de facto ban on fossil and diesel vehicles by 2035 with a 90 percent emissions reduction target. Parts of the German car industry – especially suppliers – have long fought to keep the combustion engine car alive.
5. Experts to contact for interviews and background, listed by policy field
The press team of European Commission will answer all questions on the package. The relevant contacts can be found below.
You can also get in touch with the responsible press officers in the European Parliament. In many cases this would be Thomas Haahr and Dana Popp who cover environment.
Most of the contacts listed below are EU-level experts. You can find more contacts in the factsheet Who sets the targets? Expert Q&A on European energy and climate policy.
If you are interested in the national view of a particular country, Clean Energy Wire has put together a European climate and energy expert database. Here, you can find national contacts from member states and sort them by topic. Most countries are online already, others will be added soon.
You can also use the Brussels Binder database to find a female expert on EU policy.
Last but not least, you can always get in touch with the team at Clean Energy Wire (email@example.com). We will provide information and connect you with the experts you are looking for.
GENERAL FIT FOR 55 PACKAGE
European Commission: Tim McPhie, Ana Crespo Parrondo
For political comment, you can contact the larger parties or groups in the European Parliament. Find the press contacts here.
Analysts & researchers:
Sebastian Oberthür, research professor environment & sustainable development, Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and University of Eastern Finland
There are many environmental NGOs with expertise on the issue, such as:
EU Emission Trading System (EU ETS), CO2 for cars, Effort sharing, LULUCF
European Commission: Tim McPhie
Renewable Energy Directive (RED), Energy Efficiency Directive (EED)
European Commission: Tim McPhie, Ana Crespo Parrondo
Energy industry groups:
AFID, Maritime + Aviation fuel initiatives
European Commission: Stefan de Keersmaecker
CBAM, Energy taxation Directive
European Commission: Daniel Sheridan Ferrie
European Roundtable on Climate Change and Sustainable Transition (ERCST): Andrei Marcu firstname.lastname@example.org)
Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA): Arjun Flora (media contact)
6. Further reading
EU lawmakers face hundreds of amendments in key votes on climate policies, by Reuters (7 June 2022)
Press Kit for Press Seminar “Climate crisis & energy dependency: the ‘Fit for 55’ package to accelerate Europe’s green transition, by European Parliament (1 June 2022)
Press release and full material of Commission proposals (14 July 2021)
Delivering the European Green Deal, website by European Commission
Legislative Train Schedule of the Fit for 55 Package, by European Parliament
Fit for 55, website by EU Council (i.e. member state governments)
Q&A: How ‘Fit for 55’ reforms will help EU meet its climate goals, in-depth Q&A on Commission proposal by Carbon Brief (20 July 2021)
The Seven Elements of the EU Green Deal You Should Care About, Bloomberg (14 July 2021)
EU aims to “give humanity a fighting chance” with catch-all climate plan, Reuters (14 July 2021)
Fit for 55, article collection by EurActiv
Energy transition in EU takes centre stage in quest for climate neutrality, dossier by Clean Energy Wire (June 2021)