Building Constructive Dialogue between CEE and Brussels
A Recap of the EUKI Study Tour on Energy and Climate Issues
The European Climate Initiative (EUKI) and CAN Europe recently organized a study tour aimed at fostering constructive dialogue between civil society and EU institutions representatives on energy and climate issues. Attended by representatives from various Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, the tour provided a platform for NGOs to engage in meaningful discussions with EU decision-makers and explore solutions to pressing challenges in the field.
The tour kicked off with a warm welcome from Dr Simon Marr from the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) and the GIZ Brussels team. The participants delved into discussions focused on the progress of the Fit for 55 and the REPowerEU package, two vital initiatives driving the region's energy transition. Notably, CEEweb delivered a comprehensive presentation on the updates regarding the RePower chapters in eight CEE countries under the Towards a climate neutral EU: efficient allocation of EU funds project. This presentation shed light on the crucial role of civil society in the drafting process, and the accompanying position paper, titled "Partnership Principle Violation in REPower EU," highlighted principles of effective public participation.
Continuing the program, participants had the opportunity to engage with the EC Recovery and Resilience Task Force. The session focused on crucial topics such as the application of the Do No Significant Harm (DNSH) principle, gas investments in national plans, eligibility criteria for future projects, and pertinent national issues. The European Commission shared valuable insights into their assessment plans and highlighted the importance of involving civil society organizations (CSOs) in decision-making.
Throughout the tour, participants were involved in roundtable discussions addressing socio-economic benefits linked to energy savings and building renovation in the CEE region. These sessions also explored strategies to accelerate the development of renewable energy sources. The tour's second day culminated in a formal dinner, where Aleksandra Tomczak, Member of Cabinet of the Executive Vice President for European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, engaged in a discussion on the vital role of civil society in reinvigorating and accelerating a just energy transition.
On the final day, participants visited the European Parliament, where they focused on the topic of "Climate Ambition and Energy Transition in CEE - Towards the EP Election." Engaging with Members of the European Parliament, Martin Hojsik and Mikuláš Peksa, the discussions revolved around the upcoming elections and strategies for civil society to interact and support the implementation of climate targets in the CEE region. The importance of dialogue, societal engagement, and active exchange with political parties was underscored as essential elements in achieving climate goals.
As a grand finale to the study tour, participants embarked on an exciting field trip to the self-sustaining energy community in Eeklo, Belgium. With its innovative approach, this small town has achieved complete self-sufficiency in energy production. The participants were impressed by the community's wind turbines, which provide renewable and affordable energy to its members. The Eeklo model centred around fairness and sustainability, demonstrates the potential for universal solutions in Europe and beyond.
The study tour concluded with inspired and motivated participants returning to their respective countries in the CEE region. The tour fostered a constructive dialogue among NGOs and left an indelible mark on the participants. The experience has empowered them to take active roles in their communities, with some even considering the establishment of their own energy communities.
In summary, the EUKI study tour provided a valuable platform for diverse stakeholders to come together, exchange ideas, and explore collaborative solutions to energy and climate challenges. The engagement of civil society organizations, the insights shared by European Commission representatives, and the fruitful discussions with Members of the European Parliament all contribute to the momentum driving the energy transition in the CEE region.