European Energy Policy

A major part of the programme “Europe for Citizens” of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in 2016 is realizing an intensified engagement with energy policy. One of the main topics in the focus is the fossile ressource coal. One quarter of Germanys carbon emmissions are produced by 30 big coal plants alone. The hunger for coal is big – especially in the industrialized countries. This in an enormous thread for the health of both citizens and environment. The Coal Atlas, a publication that was issued by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Friends of Earth International contains the latest facts and figures on the use of coal and its environmental and social consequences. With more than 60 detailed infographics, the atlas illustrates the coal industry’s impact on nature, health, labour, human rights and politics. Moreover, it sheds light on the beneficiaries of coal production and shows the current developments of the sector in China, India, the United States, Russia and Germany. As a follow-up to the publication, a podcast on coal will be produced by the foundation, to spread information abbout the harmful impacts of the resource.


Kick-off Workshop "Regional Cooperation for Renewables in the European Union"
April 25th & 26th, 2016 – Brussels, Belgium

Another key aspect of the activities in the field of energy policy is the German Energiewende. More and more the discussion about it expands to a debate about the European Energiewende. There are many ideas to a European Energy Union on the table already. How the path towards a united energy market could like is discussed in many articles of the foundations European blogs and in various events held in the European offices.

Renewable energy sources (RES) will have to play a predominant role in the EU’s future energy mix in order to ensure a competitive, secure and sustainable energy system. Nevertheless, the current policy and regulatory framework does not facilitate this urgently needed transition but rather reflects a business-as-usual approach. The current EU 2030 Climate and Energy Framework lacks ambition because of the low RES target of “at least 27%” but also due to its “EU-wide” level approach without binding or specific Member State contributions. Given this weak policy framework, there is however one mechanism which could increase the share of renewables to the scale and speed that is needed given today`s challenges: The idea of regional cooperation.

Therefore, the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union and the World Future Council hosted a series of stakeholder workshops to further develop, discuss and exchange solutions enhancing and strengthening regional cooperation aiming at a sustainable energy transition. The goal was to provide concrete examples and transferable policy solutions by discussing crucial questions with and in frontrunner regions. Therefore it has been organised in the framework of hbs’ #Regions4GreenEconomy series which are organised together with the representatives of different German Länder in Brussels, and the Global 100% RE Campaign #Go100RE.


North Sea Study Tour: Regional Renewables Cooperation in Practice
September 2016, Brussels, Belgium
Study Tour

In five days in September 2016, 13 policy-makers and shapers from 9 countries travelled 1.500 kilometres from Denmark via Germany and the Netherlands to Belgium. Their mission? Exploring what regional renewables cooperation means in practice and how it can boost renewable energy in Europe. The group travelled from Copenhagen via Sønderborg, Flensburg, Hamburg, Eemshaven, Groningen, Assen, Koornwerderzand and Ghent to Brussels and met with project developers, local, regional and national administrators and politicians to discuss the chances and the challenges of regional renewables cooperation. This 5-day tour served as a platform for in-depth learning about existing and possible future cooperation and provided thoughts, inspiration, opportunities and contacts to the participants. Watch this film to learn more about the tour. In a final meeting in the European Parliament, these insights were shared with representatives from the European Parliament and Commission.

This was the most recent activity that the Heinrich Böll Foundation EU Office has organised together with the World Future Council in the framework of HBF’s #Regions4GreenEconomy and the Global 100% RE Campaign #Go100RE. On this page, you can find all relevant information regarding the study tour and further information.

Background: Renewable energy sources (RES) will have to play a predominant role in EU’s future energy mix. However, the current policy and regulatory framework does not entirely facilitate this transition but instead reflects a business-as-usual approach. The current RE target on EU level in the Climate and Energy 2030 Framework lacks ambition with regards to the low goal setting of “at least 27%” and due to its “EU-wide” level approach without member state contributions. In light of this weak policy framework, there is one mechanism, which may still help to increase the share of renewables to the scale and speed needed to counter today’s challenges: The idea of regional cooperations.

Regional cooperation can effectively bridge the gap between national renewable energy policies and a Europeanised approach to renewable energy deployment. Additionally, regional action across borders allows for participation of non-state actors, possibly a higher political legitimacy and fitted solutions for local conditions. A common cross-border identity might be facilitated through these projects and the revenue generated by the decentralized energy plants is more likely to stay within the region.

The study “Driving Regional Cooperation Forward in the 2030 Renewable Energy Framework”, written by the consultancy Ecofys on behalf of the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s EU Office (HBF EU), explores the potential benefits of regional renewables cooperation and provides policy suggestions on how such cooperation can effectively be enhanced. In addition, findings from the World Future Council`s programme on 100% Renewable Energyn the EU show that there is a window of opportunity for adapting the legislative framework to strengthen regional cooperation on renewable energy. To harvest this potential and develop a strategy for implementation, a comprehensive and inclusive policy dialogue is needed to a) build cross-sectorial and multi-level-governance networks, b) learn from pioneering regions and pilot projects and c) build political momentum for the topic.


Nothing is irrelevant to us – Potentials of cross-party cooperation in the field of environment protection
Public debate
July 19th, 2016 – World Youth Day 2016 Krakow, Poland

The pontificial encyclical Laudato Si’ from 2015 formulated a clear vision of the responsability of every modern human being has towards nature and the environment. The Catholic church has always seeked to find answers for global challenges. It is only natural, that it is also interested in the condition of the environment and its impact on the civilisation and climate – especially as this determins the lives of so many people, mainly poor people. It was the Catholic Pope that reminded people to "take care of the common house" and to change the relations between people fundamentally and sustainably using a broad and open dialogue that focuses on the wellbeing of all. Also international politics do carry a responsability and have an impact on the actions of social players and the behaviour of individuals.

Measures for the protection of the environment and the climate are performed by many different groups from the sciences, politics and the civil society – both an a regional and international level. What creates a strong dialogue are measures taking place on a local level. Here people with a strong need for engagement can meet and collaborate, knowing best, what is good in their lives when directly linked with problems in their neighbourhood. This also bares possibilities for collaboration with local administration and facilities, for example when it comes to sustainable public transport, fresh air or a green economy.

The public debate in Krakow aims to foster the dialogue for environmetal issues between different social groups with the participation of the church. How can the Catholic Church profit from this issues whilst engaging in the public debate? How can – in the light of the current global environmetal challenges – new plattforms of communication be established for players from the church, politics, media and the society? What measures can be implemented on an international, national and local level? How can individual behaviour be successful? How can people's awareness be raised for environmental issues and empowerment increased? 

The event was planned and organised by the Foundation Green Zone, Gazeta Wyborcza in Krakau and the Portal of Christian Earthlovers.


Preview: Euracademy social economy ecosystem
15th Summer Academy on “Social Economy and Sustainable Rural Development”
July 16th - 23rd, 2016 – Greece

The Summer Academy is part of a series of activities for the development of social economy in Greece, as an alternative economic model that promotes social inclusion and cohesion, expands democracy, emphasizes the localization of production and consumption, has an environmental orientation and fosters social innovation. Above all, the active involvement of citizens in a democratic, participative model of business, such as social enterprises can have additional positive effects on their involvement in the political discourse in a pluralist democracy.

In 2016 the Summer Academy focuses on how social enterprises and co-operatives can contribute to the rural economy and how these types of enterprise can be supported. Successful examples, point to a “social entreprise ecosystem” which needs to be established in a rural area, to ensure the networking, mutual support and access to small capital necessary for starting a social enterprise. The Summer Academy aims in contributing to the development of such supportive ecosystems by defining the context of such ecosystems, mapping relevant stakeholders and their roles and by mobilising the social economy community.

Participants from all over Europe who are working in the field of rural development, managers and staff of social enterprises and co-operatives based in rural areas, representatives of Development Agencies, local and regional authorities, policy and decision makers, researchers and academics will participate. Based on the experience of 14 previous Summer Academies held in an equal number of different locations around Europe, on different themes relating to sustainable rural development different formats of activities will be used it will provide networking activities, lectures and discussion workshops in groups, thematic study tours (with practical examples), study tours reports (with impressions and proposals for future strategies), plenary discussions and evaluations.

Project partners are the Euracademy Association and the Development Agency Karditsa.

The Crete Academy ended with the presentation of the participants’ five project proposals in plenum:

  • Give a shit – A project about the unsustainable western toilet system and the use of energy out of toilet waste. The project launched the #WeDoGiveAShit campaign as part of the World Toilet Day on 19 November 2015. Location of project coordinator: Lisbon
  • Energy transition schools – The project deals with the energy efficiency in schools: energy upgrade efficiency in school buildings and energy and environmental educational seminars for students and teachers. Location of project coordinator: Athens
  • Solar van – A mobile energy efficient van with installed photovoltaic that travels between different points of innovation and links them, informs the local community on the benefits of energy saving and renewable energy sources. Location of project coordinator: Crete
  • Katsigaros – Collection of oil waste from the oil production factories to convert them into biomass production and electricity generation. Location of project coordinator: Crete
  • Compost bench – The school community, pupils and their families compost their organic household waste: they will produce healthy garden soil and students will learn about gardening and their responsibility for their school environment. Location of project coordination: Patras

The academies were important for the development of SEYN focal groups in different countries. SEYN participants are now exchanging information regarding the development of their project ideas in Solta, Zagreb, Crete, Athens, Lisbon, Rotterdam and other areas. 

SEYN participants write their opinion on the Crete academy:

“I learned how to manage the energy consumption of a place through clear and simple presentations”
“Inspiring ways of team working”
“Great discussion on revolutionizing the economy through small-scale RES”

“After the experts’ advises it was much easier to develop our ideas”
“SEYN Crete academy rocks!”       


Visiting German Energy Cooperatives
Prague, Czech Republic
October, 2016

Energy policy has become potentially a driver for a further EU integration and a tool for a socio-economic transformation that would make Europe more resilient in the face of many future challenges. Yet it is still regarded as an area where the nation state has the ultimate say regardless of the developments in neighbouring countries.

Some guiding questions are: How can we overcome the prevailing political approach of the absolute sovereignty in choosing the national energy mix in the face of the need for European cooperation and coordination? How can the Member States contribute to the goals of the Energy Union as formulated by the European Commission? How can these goals be strengthened in the areas of sustainability (renewable sources of energy, efficiency and savings)? How can the civil society contribute to and improve on these goals?