On May 26th, French people will be called upon to vote and elect their new Members of the European Parliament. While the abstention rate is often much higher in comparison with national elections, these elections are nevertheless fundamental. On one hand, in face of climate emergency, new MEPs will have a decisive role to play in meeting citizens’ high hopes and making the fight to tackle climate change a priority in Europe. On the other hand, behind the elections lies the challenge of the political personalities and nationalities who will occupy strategic positions and will therefore influence the direction the EU will take over the next five years. A few days before the elections, UFE takes a look of what is at stake in these elections.
Alongside the creation of a new centrist group, the expected rise of nationalist parties or the uncertainty surrounding the occurrence of elections in the United Kingdom, the European elections herald a new political composition. In the context of a crisis of confidence in the EU institutions, of global warming as well as growing competition from the USA and China, the new MEPs will have to meet the high expectations.
Electricity at the heart of the European project
Let us remember that the Europe of energy, in particular electricity, is both a reality and a necessity. First of all, because nowadays, the national climate and energy policies must integrate the European dimension, the Clean Energy Package being the latest example of this. Moreover, when it comes to infrastructure, the electricity network always extends beyond national borders thanks to interconnexions, making it possible to import and export electricity on a daily basis. Electricity also brings solidarity, as illustrated by the cooperation between system operators who act to prevent the occurrence of blackouts. As we want to decarbonize the energy mix and promote the development of renewables energies, this European solidarity is key to ensure security of supply in Europe.
Choosing a sustainable and united Europe
By fully engaging in an ecological transition that happens to be at minimum cost for European citizens, the newly elected European Parliament will have the opportunity to restore faith and confidence in a protective, competitive and sustainable Europe. In its manifesto the French electricity sector underlines three orientations to be taken into account.
First, to meet its climate commitments, the European Union must set an ambitious long-term climate course by supporting a carbon-neutral objective by 2050. To this end, the EU will have to target as a priority the most pollutant sectors such as transport, building and industry sectors to significantly and rapidly reduce CO2 emissions. Europe will also need to protect its energy infrastructure and increase the flexibility of its electricity system to ensure security of supply.
Secondly, carbon-free energy, in particular electricity, can be a powerful lever for Europe to reap the benefits of the ecological transition. Accompanying social change and supporting a genuine low-carbon industrial policy will make it possible to create the technologies and jobs of tomorrow on European ground.
Finally, this climate ambition must be reflected in all European policies, whether it is in terms of research and innovation, taxation or trade policy.
Position France as a leader in Europe
France has many assets in order to contribute to the construction of this new Europe. For instance, it can rely on the excellence of its electrical sector, its ability to innovate or its skills when it comes to tomorrow’s technologies.
However, France can only be a rightful leader if it succeeds in increasing its influence in Brussels regarding these strategic issues. For instance, this will involve prioritizing, as soon as the MEPs elections are done, the most influential jobs and key parliamentary committee on energy and industrial policy. France will also have a role to play in positioning itself regarding the future European Commission which will be appointed in November and will have to rely on all the French participants - institutional, industrial or civil society - present in Brussels. As a major player in favor of the energy transition in Europe, UFE is ready to contribute to this "French team"!