MEPs, ministers wrangle over protection for domestic green industry in auctions

MEPs, ministers wrangle over protection for domestic green industry in auctions

Ministers and parliament are set to spar in negotiations next week on the EU’s green industrial plan, over the extent to which energy auctions and technologies should seek to protect domestic European industry over foreign suppliers, according to a recent document seen by Euronews.

The Belgian Presidency of the EU Council is asking member states to partially meet European Parliament demands for stricter rules in green energy auctions and public procurement of ‘net-zero’ technologies, under the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA), to prevent undercutting by overseas suppliers.

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In the NZIA, Brussels’ reaction to the US Inflation Reduction Act, aimed at ensuring at least 40% of the EU’s annual needs for ‘strategic net-zero technologies’ are produced domestically by 2030, the European Commission proposed that resilience and sustainability criteria should apply to avoid overdependence on a single non-EU source.

Parliament wants such criteria to apply immediately to all green energy auctions, but governments concerned over higher costs associated with meeting EU renewables targets, say it should apply only to 20% of auctioned generation capacity, with the EU executive set to review this figure by December 2027.

“The idea is that the figure [20%] will evolve up to 100%,” an EU diplomat told Euronews, suggesting that the percentage could gradually increase on assessment by the EU executive.

But an internal Council document dated 29 January and seen by Euronews reveals the Belgian EU Presidency is “requesting flexibility” of co-legislators, noting their positions “are still far apart” and there is “little room for manoeuvre” from national governments.

The Belgians are trying to break a compromise deal to increase the start-up volume auctioned per year, per member state, at 30%, instead of the 20% agreed during previous inter-institutional negotiations and sought by the Council, the document reads. The Belgian EU Presidency is also suggesting to decrease the application time from a start date of 2027 to 18 months after the NZIA comes into force, trying to accommodate the parliament’s request for an immediate application of the bill.

For the time being it’s unclear whether member states will accept the 30% proposed figure, an EU parliamentary source told Euronews, adding that the co-legislators remain hopeful.

In previous negotiations, France has been vocal asking for a benchmark of “at least 40%” whereas Germany expressed opposition to “any further increase”, official Council documents show.

“We are now relying on the presidency to facilitate a compromise with the parliament in good faith,” another EU diplomat told Euronews.

Lobby group WindEurope criticised the suggestion that sustainability and resilience criteria should only apply to 20% of the projects, saying that anything less than 100% “goes against the Wind Power Package” presented by the commission last year.

“For wind, it sends a signal that we only want high European standards for 20% of projects — the other 80% can go to non-European manufacturers,” a WindEurope statement said.

Dries Acke, policy director at SolarPower Europe (SPE) told Euronews the share of auctions applying pre-qualification and non-price award criteria should be clearly defined in new legislation put forward by the commission nine months following the adoption of the NZIA.

Acke said lawmakers should consider the feasibility of domestic industry to meet demand within resilience auctions, urging them to set a specific segment of ‘resilience auctions’, in line with a proposal from the European Solar Industry Alliance and backed by SPE.

EU officials are scheduled to meet for another round of inter-institutional negotiations next Tuesday (February 6) in Brussels.


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