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The Green Deal, National Energy and Climate Plans in Europe: Member States’ Compliance and Strategies

The Green Deal, National Energy and Climate Plans in Europe: Member States’ Compliance and... administrative sciences Article The Green Deal, National Energy and Climate Plans in Europe: Member States’ Compliance and Strategies 1 , 1 , 2 Georgios Maris * and Floros Flouros Department of the Mediterranean Studies, University of the Aegean, 85132 Rhodes, Greece Department of History, Politics and International Studies, Neapolis University, 8042 Pafos, Cyprus; f.flouros@aegean.gr or f.flouros@nup.ac.cy * Correspondence: gmaris@aegean.gr; Tel.: +30-224-1099-334 Abstract: This paper analyses the EU’s policies for energy and climate, using Börzel’s theoretical framework on Europeanisation, and examines Member States’ Green Deal responses, strategies, and compliance. As expressed in their final NECPs, although Member States’ responses vary, most of the critical components were partially addressed, while the others were largely addressed. We observe a considerable variation in Member States’ strategies. Member States classified as foot-dragging beforehand are fence-sitting now, while those previously categorised as fence-sitting are now either foot-dragging or pace-setting. The root cause of these classification changes for the Member States within the EU can be traced back to their internal environments in which the involved stakeholders each have a different response pace regarding environment, climate, and energy. We present and analyse our theoretical context, discuss the EU’s energy policies and the NECPs, examine Member States’ responses and compliance with this new framework, and propose several challenges. Keywords: European Union; energy; environment; compliance; Green Deal; NECP; strategy Citation: Maris, Georgios, and Floros Flouros. 2021. The Green Deal, 1. Introduction National Energy and Climate Plans in Energy policies, involving considerations of energy autonomy and environmental Europe: Member States’ Compliance impacts, are a crucial issue for world economies and state governments. Recently, the and Strategies. Administrative Sciences International Energy Agency published an energy policy report confirming COVID-19 s 11: 75. https://doi.org/10.3390/ tremendous impact on the energy sector and forecasting an annual energy demand decline admsci11030075 of six per cent in 2020 (International Energy Agency 2020). Due to the drastic COVID-19 government policies, this reduction will have an impact on both global CO emissions and Received: 29 June 2021 incomes, although only temporarily because it is not related to the structural transformation Accepted: 20 July 2021 of economic and energy systems, and both governments and production sectors would pre- Published: 23 July 2021 fer to postpone the Green Deal targets and limit emission standards (Le Quéré et al. 2020). The role of energy in climate change is challenging economies and lifestyles, being per- Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral ceived as a catalyst for a second energy revolution that strives for a low carbon future, and with regard to jurisdictional claims in the present situation’s urgency has increased due to the recent pandemic (Yergin 2020). published maps and institutional affil- The European Union (EU) has also recognised energy and environmental issues as key and iations. critical components, which resulted in the European Commission’s 2020 decision to move forward with an unprecedented step that will lead to a so-called “zero-carbon” economy. In this context, we must consider Member States’ alignment with the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), given the European Commission’s general directions, as well as the Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. limitations related to their compliance. This paper is the first to examine this topic or the Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. first to analyse this topic using this particular framework. The main purpose and main This article is an open access article contribution of this study is to conduct an up-to-date research on the design and adoption distributed under the terms and of EU Member States’ policies on common European policy and integration issues. One conditions of the Creative Commons of them concerns the issue of energy and climate policy, but also the Green Agreement in Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// general, which was recently announced and which is expected to have the greatest impact creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ on European policy in the next period 2021–2027. Methodologically, in this context we 4.0/). Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75. https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci11030075 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/admsci Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 2 of 17 analyse and evaluate the behaviour of the Member States using the data from the NECPs, trying in parallel to decode their strategies through Börzel’s (2002) theoretical framework. Thus, this paper analyses the EU’s policies for energy and climate, using Börzel’s (2002) theoretical framework on Europeanisation, and examines Member States’ Green Deal re- sponses, strategies, and compliance. As expressed in their final NECPs, although Member States’ responses vary, most of the critical components were partially addressed, while the others were largely addressed. When comparing these responses with Börzel’s categorisa- tions, some countries classified as foot-dragging beforehand are fence-sitting now, while those previously categorised as fence-sitting are now either foot-dragging or pace-setting. The root cause of these classification changes for the 27 Member States within the EU can be traced back to their internal environments in which the involved stakeholders each have a different response pace regarding environment, climate, and energy. To fulfil this paper ’s aim, we present and analyse our theoretical context (the Europeanisation process), discuss the EU’s energy policies and the NECPs, examine Member States’ responses and compliance with this new framework, and propose several challenges. 2. The Europeanisation Process: A Theoretical Context Although the multi-faceted process of Europeanisation does not provide the dynamics or complexities of European transformation (Olsen 2002), it can be a helpful research tool for providing information on the interactions between European and domestic ac- tors (Radaelli 2004). To avoid several methodological issues that may affect our analy- sis (Exadaktylos and Radaelli 2009; Haverland 2006), we used Börzel’s (2002) theoretical framework to examine Member States’ responses to Europeanisation, and the main actors’ strategies and compliance with regard to the Green Deal and NECPs. In other words, this framework can help us to examine how the Member States both shape and adapt to these European policies. Börzel (2002) developed a theoretical framework that analyses three different strategies (pace-setting, foot-dragging, and fence-sitting), which repre- sent differences in preferences and action capacities, in order to conceptually connect the two opposite dimensions of Europeanisation (bottom-up and top-down). According to Börzel (2002, p. 194) the three strategies are differentiated as: “pace-setting, i.e., actively pushing policies at the European level, which reflect a Member State’s policy preference and minimise implementation costs; foot-dragging, i.e., blocking or delaying costly policies in order to prevent them altogether or achieve at least some compensation for implemen- tation costs; and fence-sitting, i.e., neither systematically pushing policies nor trying to block them at the European level but building tactical coalitions with both pace-setters and foot-draggers”. In this regard, energy-rich and climate-sensitive EU Member States, with energy intensive industries, actively push their policy preferences to the EU (pace-setting). On the other hand, foot-dragging is generally not a primary choice for Member States, because the NECP is not binding, and finally fence-sitting is mostly linked with national priority setting, as is the case in Southern European countries that are more concerned with guiding specific actions to deal with climate issues, such as fires, floods, and environ- mental catastrophes (Aggestam and Pülzl 2020). Although almost 20 years have passed since it was first introduced, this framework continues to enable us to separate Member States’ compliance with the various environmental and energy issues through its clear and concise categorisation that is provided to the researchers. In this paper, we will provide an up-to-date categorisation of the Member State’s behavior and strategies for the Green Deal evaluating the NECP’s data. Recently, more up to date literature has also been used to analyse other issues, for example the Council’s leadership and Member States’ behavior for environmental dynam- ics in the EU (see, Wurzel et al. 2019). Other scholars have used Börzel’s framework to analyse and evaluate various topics, such as determining medium Member States’ roles in the creation of the European Monetary Union (Maes and Verdun 2005), identifying leaders and laggards in environmental policy (Liefferink et al. 2009), explaining the French policy on the EU’s “gouvernement économique” (Howarth 2007), etc. However, even Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 3 of 17 more recently, Micallef Grimaud (2018) used this framework to examine the EU’s legisla- tive decision-making processes, with regard to governmental power and influence, and Stegmann McCallion (2020) tested whether the EU’s contemporary transformation became more inter-governmental. In addition, Coman (2020) analysed the Romanian rotating EU council presidency, and Zaun (2020) examined the differences in the negotiation dynam- ics of the EU’s asylum policies and its post-2016 reform deadlock. Other scholars used a slightly different theoretical context to examine leadership laggards, pioneers, push- ers, and leaders with regard to the EU’s environmental policies and climate governance (Jänicke and Wurzel 2018; Liefferink and Wurzel 2017; Wurzel et al. 2018). In the past few years, scholars have also analysed Europeanisation’s impact on en- vironmental and energy politics, as well as state capacity and compliance. For example, Torney and O’Gorman (2019) assessed the EU’s membership restrictions on Ireland’s cli- mate change and environmental policy. Others have investigated EU and Member States’ in- teractions in shaping the EU’s renewable energy policy (Solorio Sandoval and Jörgens 2017). In this regard, Avrami and Sprinz (2018) discovered that the Member States found many ways to escape the EU climate policy’s limitations, due to the flexible Kyoto mechanisms and reduction targets. Other scholars have studied the economic crisis’ influence on Member States’ degrees of implementation (Maris and Sklias 2020), arguing that it af- fected them in various ways and that the reduction in environmental rules was con- nected to reductions in economic activity (Melidis and Russel 2020). In the same vein, Solorio and Jörgens (2020) believed that during an economic crisis, the Europeanisation of renewable energy policy can stimulate de-Europeanisation and probably a partial in- tegration process withdrawal. Similarly, Tobin (2017) examined climate policy variations between developed states, finding Austria to be an interesting laggard in climate policy, and Aggestam and Pülzl (2020) assessed the EU’s forest action plan, discovering different Europeanisation effects on EU Member States. Furthermore, regarding Brexit’s impact on environmental policies, Burns et al. (2019) observed that Europeanisation’s influence is so important that even Brexit will not lead to environmental policy reversals. In terms of third countries, Iangbein and Börzel (2013) argued that many factors affect Eastern neighbour- hood countries’ influence on EU policy changes, and Hofmann et al. (2019) asserted that even third countries such as Switzerland and Norway can shape the EU’s energy policies, because of their accession and structural power. On the other hand, even though the Member States prefer to have control over energy policy issues, especially in times of crises, the European Commission found a way to expand supranational authority with the institutionalisation of new instruments centred on “real-time compliance” (Maltby 2013; Thaler and Pakalkaite 2020). Indeed, this strategy is closely related to the European Commission’s wider institutionalised efforts to prevent non-compliance (Falkner 2018; Scholten 2017), which still remains a “black box” (Versluis 2007). However, energy policy involves both structural and polit- ical causes, as well as characteristics that may affect implementation and compliance (Van de Graaf et al. 2017). Based on Börzel and Buzogány (2019), country-specific vari- ables, such as legal culture and administrative traditions, state power and capacity, political systems, and low socio-economic development, are the main causes of EU Member States’ non-compliance. Torney and O’Gorman (2019, pp. 577–80) also found several reasons for this non-compliance, including Member States’ internal administrative structure fragmen- tation, lacking administrative capacities, weak internal institutions, the existence of “veto players”, and internal “political and social activism”. 3. European Union’s Policies for NECP’s For many years, energy politics in the EU was a voluntary process that relied on Member States’ good will (Behrens et al. 2011). For example, during the 1970s, when the famous oil crisis occurred, Member States acted individually to implement energy policies (McGowan 2011). It appears that many political factors and perceptions affect Member States’ behaviours, as they have been reluctant for several years to disclose any Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 4 of 17 energy security competencies to the European Commission (Pointvogl 2009). In the 1980s, even with the internal market’s introduction, there was no vision to create a common energy policy, despite its importance for governments, interest groups, and the European Commission (Matlary 1997). However, in the following period, it was envisioned that the EU should be able to tackle several challenges, such as growing imports and the environmental impact of energy production and use (Kanellakis et al. 2013). Accordingly, during the European Council meeting on 27 October 2005, the EU decided to officially establish a promising energy policy. Two years later, the European Commission published “An Energy Policy for Europe” communication, which was adopted by the Council and the European Parliament (European Commission 2007). Subsequently, article 194 of the Lisbon Treaty included energy policy among the primary issues, mainly because of the liberalisation agenda that occurred within the Community. This evolution improved the EU’s international leadership position in energy and environmental issues (Oberthür and Roche Kelly 2008; Van Schaik and Schunz 2012) After Eurozone’s economic crisis in 2009, the Jean Claude Juncker Commission set EU’s energy strategy as a key priority, aimed at establishing an Energy Union that of- fers consumers secure and sustainable energy. As a result, the European Commission issued the energy union strategy on 25 February 2015 (European Commission 2015) and thereafter, monitored its proper implementation and Member States’ issuance of related progress reports. However, many energy policy issues remained at the national level, as the Europeanisation process in energy policy requires the involvement of and close cooper- ation between Member States. Recently, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s political programme seriously considered energy policy and climate change adaptation, declaring an aim to transform Europe into “the first climate-neutral continent” through the recently announced European Green Deal. For that purpose, it is important to provide the conditions to achieve a “just transition for all” that will contribute to social cohesion, long-term growth, and sustainability (von der Leyen 2019, pp. 5–6). With regard to adopting climate change actions, Europe recognises several urgent challenges: the av- erage air temperature is globally increasing, while the climate changes annually; 10% to 15% of the Earth’s species are already at risk of being extinct; nature and oceans are being contaminated and destroyed; and sea levels are expected to rise, causing more floods and potentially bringing serious unforeseen problems in several geographical areas. Following this, the European Commission (2019c) acknowledged that the challenges are “complex and interlinked”; suggested that any policy recommendations and decisions should be “bold and comprehensive and seek to maximise benefits for health, quality of life, resilience and competitiveness”; and highlighted the need for “intense coordination to exploit the available synergies across all policy areas”. The EU declared that they would like to have “a clean energy transition”, which can further support the aims announced in the Paris Agreement (European Commission 2019d). In order to meet the agreed targets for 2030, the EU’s objectives are to (1) reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by a minimum of 40% (the GHG reduction target for 2030 has been already revised by the European Commission and the Council where documents now state “at least 55%”, and the Council has adopted this target too (see also European Climate Law and the 2030 Climate Target Plan, currently under discussion, which will codify the 2030 target into law), (2) increase the renewable energy sources (RES) quota to a minimum of 32% EU energy use, (3) increase energy efficiency by a minimum of 32.5%, (4) guarantee a minimum of 15% electricity inter-connection levels among neighbouring Member States, and (5) support Research and Innovation (R&I) initiatives through the available financing tools. In order to reach the recently declared European Union’s energy and climate targets until the year 2030, it has been decided that all European Union countries have to design and set up a 10-year integrated NECPs that will be implemented during the period 2021 until 2030. In these NECPs, each European Union Member State needs to analyse, de- sign, propose and implement the way that it will deal with concepts such as greenhouse Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 5 of 17 gas emissions reductions, renewables, energy efficiency, interconnections, research and innovation. To provide further support for achieving the EU targets, each Member State must initially send their NECP, which discloses their process and actions for meeting national targets within 10 years (connected to the Energy Union’s five key characteristics), current energy systems, and prevailing policies (European Commission 2019d). To achieve a “sustainable low-carbon economy”, the European Commission predicted that public and private investment changes are needed, in addition to any incentives across the entire policy range (European Commission 2019d). Member State governments had to prepare and provide their final NECPs, which considered the 2030 milestone, by the end of 2019, and weigh the Commission’s evaluation and suggestions. They also had to submit biannual progress reports, under the European Commission’s supervision, to ensure prompt and successful responses, as well as Member States’ alignment with the set targets. To ensure that the Member States received proper detailed guidelines and support, in June 2019, the European Commission (2019a, 2019b, 2019e) published a communication that included 28 draft NECPs, special recommendations, and comprehensive “Staff Working Documents” (SWD) for each Member State. During NECP preparations, each Member State should publicly consult county authorities in a well-structured and official way to ensure that the community has enough time to seek information, study, and provide the required feedback. In the next milestone, set for October 2021, the European Commission has scheduled to assess Member States’ progress, which should take place every two years, regarding their NECPs’ implementation status. The latter includes their progress in achieving the targets, updates on policies and measures, and updated projections for the future. 4. Member States’ Responses, Strategies and Compliance with the New Framework International energy collaborations seem to be more effective at the level of inter- national governance, rather than within the internal dimensions of domestic policy co- ordination (Lesage et al. 2010; Maris et al. 2021). Practically, this means that there are several possible response and compliance perceptions. On the one hand, the availability and even abundance of energy supply urged most Member States to consider energy security issues as low priority (Szulecki and Westphal 2014). Accordingly, the foreign policy dimensions of energy security remained a second priority compared to the EU’s prominent climate change policies (Youngs 2009). Member States were criticised for not understanding that dealing with climate change requires more dedicated and geo-strategic foreign policies, and not only internal energy targets (Pascual and Zambetakis 2010). At the same time, several diplomats and politicians raised some concerns with regard to the EU’s emphasis on climate change issues, which subsequently affected its overall energy policy (Youngs 2009). Member States responded differently to the integration process, due to their internal structural parameters as well as their perceptions of the decision-makers as either a strength or risk for their own countries (Mišík 2019; Maris and Flouros 2021). Depending on this perception, Member States can either support EU integration and adopt common policies in their national legislation or oppose, delay, and even reject this process. 4.1. Methodology of the Empirical Study The main purpose of this research was to examine the level of adoption of EU Member States’ of the new issues of energy and climate policies at their national level and their alignment with the common direction from the European Union. The main research question was to investigate how each country reacts to the central direction set by the EU and consequently how they design their own NECP. In case of similarities and grouping among several Member States, it is also interesting to understand how they are grouped, both in relation to the existing theoretical models and also at an empirical level. This research was based on secondary sources and was conducted during the period February- April 2021, with an extensive search to find the appropriate sources and to locate the necessary information about NECP. Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 6 of 17 4.2. Evaluation of the Assessment Report Based on the EU Assessment Report on NECPs, which the European Commission recently published, all Member States have submitted their final NECP plans, after the initial schedule and time line delays, and the lengthy discussions at the national level that involved local stakeholders and concerned groups (European Commission 2020a). Such a process is expected to enhance the finally approved NECPs’ public acceptance, making implementation easier and more efficient. The following bullet points offer a concise summary for each of the aforementioned NECP parameters and Table 1 summarises the key points of the assessment report. Based on the data and information contained in each Commission Staff Working Document (SWD) of the final NECP for each member country, we evaluate the data presenting at the same time the results (see also, Table 2). The creation and use of figures below were deemed appropriate as they can always offer in a simple and concise way the conclusions of the evaluation of the final NECPs. Table 1. Summary of the assessment report on NECPs. Parameters EU Assessment 2050 Targets Scale Several countries placed aspiring objectives National targets are within the 0–40% in areas not included in the EU’s emission range until 2030 vs. 2005 to meet the EU’s trading system. Other countries foresaw that GHG emissions requirements. Minimum reductions in B the national targets can further reduce GHG areas which are not included in the EU’s emissions more than their Effort Sharing emission trading system. Regulation (ESR) binding targets. RES amounts in the EU’s total energy mix Renewable energy Minimum 32% until 2030. AA could meet the 33.1% to 33.7% levels by 2030. A 29.7% [1176 Mtoe] reduction in primary Difference between the target, equalling to Energy efficiency energy and 29.4% in final energy 2.8% primary energy consumption, and the C consumption [885 Mtoe] until 2030. 3.1% final energy consumption. Malta, Portugal Luxembourg, France, and COVID-19 has also affected energy security. Lithuania submitted their targets (internal). More focus is required on the resilience of Bulgaria, Italy, Estonia, Germany, Poland, clean technology supply chains. The design Energy security Croatia, and Ireland scheduled more Liquid B/C and implementation of important clean Natural Gas (LNG) capacities to secure gas technology procurement and logistics market supply and/or increase competition requires recovery and resilience plans. (external). Some Member States submitted suggestions Even if countries adopt separate processes and prioritised energy subsidies in their for integration, the EU strategy provides an Internal energy NECPs: 19 countries included content on action plan to adjust energy markets to B/C market fossil fuel subsidies, 12 set action plans to climate neutrality needs and could be seen eliminate fossil fuels, and six reported a time as a driver for implementing more resilient line to end part of the fossil fuel incentives. energy systems. Little focus on R&I requirements for reaching A fresh strategic intention for clean energy climate and energy targets. National budgets R&I and rivalry is required to support dedicated to R&I in clean energy European economies and assist innovation. technologies are smaller compared to Research & This could help economies include previous years. The national targets, with C Innovation (R&I) innovation and new technologies. For both specific and clear 2030 and 2050 directions, the EU and national R&I policies, local are missing. In most cases, the NECP reports industrial policies should effectively fit the only financially support existing non-energy energy and climate targets. specific programmes. Scale: AA: Excellent; A: Very Good; B: Good; C: Below Target; D: Failure. Source: The assessment is based on the European Commission (2020a). Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 7 of 17 Table 2. Overall assessment: EU Member States’ final NECPs. Largely Addressed Partially Addressed Austria Belgium Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Italy Ireland Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Total 10 17 Source: European Commission (2020a). After the recent SWD publications on 14 October 2020, the European Commission issued recommendations for each Member State and a detailed account of how the previous recommendations were reflected in the final NECPs. The UK is not included, because Brexit is still undergoing negotiations. Figure 1 illustrates that 17 out of 27 countries partially addressed the recommendations Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 8 of 18 and 10 largely addressed them. In the following figures, each of the NECP parameters represent the factors in the European Commission’s final SWD. Final Assessment Overall of NECPs 38% 62% Largelly Addressed Partially Addressed Figure 1. Final NECPs: Overall assessment. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 1. Final NECPs: Overall assessment. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 2 depicts the final NECPs’ decarbonisation-GHG parameter. The 11 Member States that considered this parameter as not applicable or relevant are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. If we also consider that Denmark, Latvia, and Malta did not address this factor, 50% of the countries ignored decarbonisation-GHG. In fact, only Germany fully addressed this recommendation in the final NECP. Decarbonization-GHG 1 11 1 N/A Not Addressed Not addressed- Partially Addressed Partially Not addressed- Largely addressed Fully addressed Partially Addressed Addressed-Largelly Partially addressed- addressed Largelly addressed Figure 2. Final NECPs: GHG decarbonisation. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 3 reveals that nine Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, Slovakia and Sweden) partially and fully addressed the recommendations regarding decarbonisation-RES, seven countries (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Slovenia) partially and largely addressed them, and only Lithuania largely and fully addressed them. Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 8 of 18 Final Assessment Overall of NECPs 38% 62% Largelly Addressed Partially Addressed Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 8 of 17 Figure 1. Final NECPs: Overall assessment. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 2 depicts the final NECPs’ decarbonisation-GHG parameter. The 11 Member Figure 2 depicts the final NECPs’ decarbonisation-GHG parameter. The 11 Member States that considered this parameter as not applicable or relevant are: Bulgaria, Croatia, States that considered this parameter as not applicable or relevant are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. If we also consider that Denmark, Latvia, and Malta did not address this factor, 50% Spain. If we also consider that Denmark, Latvia, and Malta did not address this factor, of the countries ignored decarbonisation-GHG. In fact, only Germany fully addressed this 50% of the countries ignored decarbonisation-GHG. In fact, only Germany fully addressed recommendation in the final NECP. this recommendation in the final NECP. Decarbonization-GHG 1 11 1 N/A Not Addressed Not addressed- Partially Addressed Partially Not addressed- Largely addressed Fully addressed Partially Addressed Addressed-Largelly Partially addressed- addressed Largelly addressed Figure 2. Final NECPs: GHG decarbonisation. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 2. Final NECPs: GHG decarbonisation. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 3 reveals that nine Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Figure 3 reveals that nine Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, Slovakia and Sweden) partially and fully addressed the recommendations Poland, Spain, Slovakia and Sweden) partially and fully addressed the recommendations re- regarding decarbonisation-RES, seven countries (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, garding decarbonisation-RES, seven countries (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 9 of 18 Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Slovenia) partially and largely addressed them, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Slovenia) partially and largely addressed them, and only and only Lithuania largely and fully addressed them. Lithuania largely and fully addressed them. Decarbonization-RES 1 11 Not addressed-Partially Not addressed-Partially Partially addressed Partially Addressed- Not Addressed-Fully Partially-Fully addressed Largerly-Fully addressed Not-Partially-Largerly-Fully Addressed addressed-Fully addressed Largelly addressed addressed addressed Figure 3. Final NECPs: RES decarbonisation. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 3. Final NECPs: RES decarbonisation. Source: European Commission (2020a). As seen in Figure 4, 10 out of 27 have not and only partially addressed the recom- mendations on energy efficiency in their NECPs, specifically Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, and Luxembourg, while only Italy partially and fully addressed them. Energy Efficiency Not addressed- Partially Addressed Partially Addressed- Partially Addressed- Not addressed- Not addressed- Not addressed- Partially Addressed Largely Addressed Fully addressed Partially Addressed- Largerly Addressed Partially addressed- Fully addressed Largelly addressed Figure 4. Final NECPs: Energy efficiency. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 5 shows that 10 out of 27 Member States partially addressed the recommen- dations on energy security (Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia and the Netherlands), four did not consider them applicable or relevant (Croatia, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Portugal), and only Spain fully addressed them. Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 9 of 18 Decarbonization-RES 1 11 Not addressed-Partially Not addressed-Partially Partially addressed Partially Addressed- Not Addressed-Fully Partially-Fully addressed Largerly-Fully addressed Not-Partially-Largerly-Fully Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 9 of 17 Addressed addressed-Fully addressed Largelly addressed addressed addressed Figure 3. Final NECPs: RES decarbonisation. Source: European Commission (2020a). As seen in Figure 4, 10 out of 27 have not and only partially addressed the recom- As seen in Figure 4, 10 out of 27 have not and only partially addressed the recom- mendations on energy efficiency in their NECPs, specifically Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, mendations on energy efficiency in their NECPs, specifically Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, and Luxembourg, while only Italy Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, and Luxembourg, while only Italy partially and fully addressed them. partially and fully addressed them. Energy Efficiency Not addressed- Partially Addressed Partially Addressed- Partially Addressed- Not addressed- Not addressed- Not addressed- Partially Addressed Largely Addressed Fully addressed Partially Addressed- Largerly Addressed Partially addressed- Fully addressed Largelly addressed Figure 4. Final NECPs: Energy efficiency. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 4. Final NECPs: Energy efficiency. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 5 shows that 10 out of 27 Member States partially addressed the recommen- Figure 5 shows that 10 out of 27 Member States partially addressed the recommenda- da tions tions on on en energy ergy s security ecur(Czech ity (Czech Republic, Repub Estonia, lic, Esto Germany nia, Germ , Hungary any, Hu,nga Italy ry, I , Ireland, taly, Irelan Latvia, d, Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 18 Lat Malta, via, Ma Slovakia lta, Sland ovak the ia a Netherlands), nd the Netherla four nds) did , fnot our di consider d not consi themdapplicable er them applica or relevant ble or (Cr relev oatia, ant (C Denmark, roatia, Denm Luxembour ark, Luxem g, and bou Portugal), rg, and Po and rtug only al), and Spain only fully Spaddr ain fu essed lly address them. ed them. Energy Security 2 2 1 1 1 N/A Not addressed Not Addressed- Partially Partially Partially Largely addressed Fully addressed Largely Addressed Addressed addressed-Largelly Addressed-Fully addressed addressed Figure 5. Assessment on the energy security parameter of the final NECPs. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 5. Assessment on the energy security parameter of the final NECPs. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 6 indicates that 13 out of 27 partially addressed the recommendations on in- Figure 6 indicates that 13 out of 27 partially addressed the recommendations on ternal energy markets in their NECPs: Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hun- internal energy markets in their NECPs: Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, gary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia. Additionally, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden did not consider them ap- plicable or relevant. Internal Energy Markets 1 1 N/A Not addressed Not addressed-Partially Partially Addressed Partially addressed- Largely addressed Addressed Largelly addressed Figure 6. Final NECPs: Internal energy market. Source: European Commission (2020a). Finally, Figure 7 represents the R&I and Competitiveness parameter. Most Member States (18 out of 27) partially addressed the recommendations. The countries that are ex- cluded from this group are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy, Latvia, the Neth- erlands, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia. However, the Netherlands in fact largely ad- dressed the recommendations. Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 18 Energy Security 2 2 1 1 1 N/A Not addressed Not Addressed- Partially Partially Partially Largely addressed Fully addressed Largely Addressed Addressed addressed-Largelly Addressed-Fully addressed addressed Figure 5. Assessment on the energy security parameter of the final NECPs. Source: European Commission (2020a). Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 10 of 17 Figure 6 indicates that 13 out of 27 partially addressed the recommendations on in- ternal energy markets in their NECPs: Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hun- Hungary gary, Ital,y, Ir Italy elan , Ireland, d, Latv Latvia, ia, Ma Malta, lta, Pol Poland, and, Por Portugal tugal an and d Slov Slovakia. akia. Addi Additionally tionally,, Aus Austria, tria, Belgium, Belgium, Fin Finland, land, Luxemb Luxembour ourg, the g, the Ne Netherlands, therlands, anand d Sweden Sweden did did not consider not consider them ap- them applicable or relevant. plicable or relevant. Internal Energy Markets 1 1 N/A Not addressed Not addressed-Partially Partially Addressed Partially addressed- Largely addressed Addressed Largelly addressed Figure 6. Final NECPs: Internal energy market. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 6. Final NECPs: Internal energy market. Source: European Commission (2020a). Finally, Figure 7 represents the R&I and Competitiveness parameter. Most Member Finally, Figure 7 represents the R&I and Competitiveness parameter. Most Member States (18 out of 27) partially addressed the recommendations. The countries that are ex- States (18 out of 27) partially addressed the recommendations. The countries that are excluded cluded from from this this group group are Au are str Austria, ia, BelgBelgium, ium, BulgBulgari aria, Denm a, Denmark, ark, Italy, L Italy atv,ia Latvia, , the Ne the th- Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 11 of 18 Netherlands, erlands, Portuga Portugal, l, Roma Romania nia and Slov and ak Slovakia. ia. Howe However ver, the ,Neth the Netherlands erlands in fact largely in fact largely ad- addr dresse essed d the the recommendations. recommendations. Research & Innovation (R&I), Competitiveness Not addressed Not addressed- Partially Addressed Partially Addressed- Largelly Addressed Partially Addressed Largely Addressed Figure 7. Final NECPs: R&I and competitiveness. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 7. Final NECPs: R&I and competitiveness. Source: European Commission (2020a). Table 3 below summarises the results of each Member States’ responses and compli- Table 3 below summarises the results of each Member States’ responses and compli- ance with the European Commission’s directions and recommendations regarding energy ance with the European Commission’s directions and recommendations regarding energy and climate. Based on the European Commission’s assessment, each Member State can be classified into one or two categories. Table 3. EU Member States’ compliance based on their final NECPs. Auditor Categories EU Compliance N/A Not Partially Largely Fully Belgium, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Austria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Estonia, Finland, Greece, EU Countries Latvia, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Netherlands Spain, Sweden Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia 4.3. Member States’ Strategies and Compliance and Change To assess each Member State’s level of compliance with the European Commission’s directions and recommendations in their NECPs (see also Torney and O’Gorman 2019), Table 4 categorises the EU Member States’ energy and climate/environment strategies based on the EU’s recommendations (European Commission 2020b). The table shows a considerable change in the categorisation of some Member States: Greece, Portugal, and Spain were foot-dragging, but are fence-sitting in their final NECPs; Luxembourg was initially fence-sitting (Börzel 2002) but is now foot-dragging; and countries such as France and Italy are pace-setting, based on their NECP responses. Table 4. EU Member States’ long-term strategies in energy and climate (environment). Strategy Foot-Dragging Fence-Sitting Pace-Setting Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Member State Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Austria, Denmark, France, Compliance Luxembourg, Malta, Poland Lithuania, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Sweden Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 11 of 17 and climate. Based on the European Commission’s assessment, each Member State can be classified into one or two categories. Table 3. EU Member States’ compliance based on their final NECPs. Auditor Categories EU Compliance N/A Not Partially Largely Fully Belgium, Czech Republic, Austria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Greece, EU Countries Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal, Luxembourg, Netherlands Hungary, Malta, Poland, Spain, Sweden Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia 4.3. Member States’ Strategies and Compliance and Change To assess each Member State’s level of compliance with the European Commission’s directions and recommendations in their NECPs (see also Torney and O’Gorman 2019), Table 4 categorises the EU Member States’ energy and climate/environment strategies based on the EU’s recommendations (European Commission 2020b). The table shows a considerable change in the categorisation of some Member States: Greece, Portugal, and Spain were foot-dragging, but are fence-sitting in their final NECPs; Luxembourg was initially fence-sitting (Börzel 2002) but is now foot-dragging; and countries such as France and Italy are pace-setting, based on their NECP responses. Table 4. EU Member States’ long-term strategies in energy and climate (environment). Strategy Foot-Dragging Fence-Sitting Pace-Setting Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Member State Compliance Latvia, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Portugal, Malta, Poland Sweden Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain According to this analysis, Figure 8 presents a map illustrating the Member States’ strategies in energy, climate, and environment policies. Initially, six countries were con- sidered pace-setters: Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, and Finland (Börzel 2002). These countries had been industry leaders in Europe for a while because their governments had implemented environment, climate, and energy restrictions and regulations long ago. Generally, these countries are more likely to be aligned with high European standards, but the assessments on the Netherlands and Denmark revealed that their final NECPs only partially addressed the EU’s directions, the 918 and 903 SWDs, respectively (European Commission 2020b). Germany is considered one of the most influential countries within the EU, especially concerning energy related issues. Although it strongly supports initiatives and policies related to RES and climate change, Germany is slow to respond and support some areas, such as energy market liberalisation and achieving a consensus for European energy policy (Birchfield and Duffield 2011). Along with Germany, Sweden is a climate leader and prefers adopting an ambitious climate policy, which having a high GDP and EU membership can support (Tobin 2017). In addition, Denmark clarified that its NECP is a generic plan in which the criteria set by the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive do not apply (no. 903) (European Commission 2020b). The country has not addressed how it intends to reach its 2030 GHG emissions target, as recommended by the European Commission on 18 June 2019 (no. 903) (European Commission 2020b). At the same time, its planned policies and measures are not well described in most of the NECP parameters, despite the fact that after the last general election in 2019, the Social Democrats and their centre-left allies agreed to form a government that finally set on one of the most ambitious climate Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 12 of 18 Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 12 of 17 According to this analysis, Figure 8 presents a map illustrating the Member States’ strategies in energy, climate, and environment policies. Initially, six countries were con- sidered pace-setters: Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, and Finland policies in the world. Nonetheless, after years of budget cuts under the previous Prime (Börzel 2002). These countries had been industry leaders in Europe for a while because their Minister govern Rasmussen, ments had implemented Mette Frederiksen environmen becametthe , clim country’s ate, and energy r youngesteprime striction minister s and , and her administration’s green agenda aimed to further support the North Sea offshore regulations long ago. Generally, these countries are more likely to be aligned with high wind projects and establish artificial energy island(s). As Denmark has a high GDP, in European standards, but the assessments on the Netherlands and Denmark revealed that addition to its EU membership, it is largely compliant with the European Commission’s their final NECPs only partially addressed the EU’s directions, the 918 and 903 SWDs, climate and energy directions for the 2030 and 2050 goals as set in the NECPs. respectively (European Commission 2020b). Figure 8. Energy and climate long-term strategies—Member States. Source: Authors. Figure 8. Energy and climate long-term strategies—Member States. Source: Authors. Germany is considered one of the most influential countries within the EU, especially Italy and France have largely addressed the EU recommendations, as per the 911 and concerning energy related issues. Although it strongly supports initiatives and policies 909 SWDs (European Commission 2020b), respectively, and could be potentially or actively related to RES and climate change, Germany is slow to respond and support some areas, pace-setting Member States, rather than fence-sitters. Italy’s available administrative such as energy market liberalisation and achieving a consensus for European energy pol- system to support and assist the country’s efforts to comply with the European climate and icy (Birchfield and Duffield 2011). Along with Germany, Sweden is a climate leader and energy policies appears to be less capable than required, mainly because it is complicated prefers adopting an ambitious climate policy, which having a high GDP and EU member- and bureaucratic, while also unequal across the spectrum of technology and its applications ship can support (Tobin 2017). In addition, Denmark clarified that its NECP is a generic (Di Nucci and Russolillo 2017). France’s situation is unique, as the country was following plan in which the criteria set by the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive do not a “state-centric” energy policy that must change to comply with the latest EU energy apply (no. 903) (European Commission 2020b). The country has not addressed how it in- policy (Birchfield and Duffield 2011). Although the country considers itself a special tends to reach its 2030 GHG emissions target, as recommended by the European Commis- case and does not include fossil fuels in its energy mix, it finally expressed its desire and sion on 18 June 2019 (no. 903) (European Commission 2020b). At the same time, its willingness to comply with the EU’s energy policy, as also described in its latest NECP, planned policies and measures are not well described in most of the NECP parameters, which the European Commission characterised as largely compliant and ready to contribute despite the fact that after the to emissions reduction. last general election in 2019, the Social Democrats and their On the other hand, countries seen as foot-draggers are industrial latecomers with less developed regulatory structures, such as Portugal, Greece, and Spain (Börzel 2002). Ireland has been trying to “promote a green image” (fence-sitter), while Poland noted Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 13 of 17 its opposition to “the whole idea of a low-carbon economy” in 2014 when the European Commission designed its previous climate and energy package (Skjærseth 2014, p. 510). Both democratisation level and internal power separations in a Member State play a significant role in the adoption of environmentally friendly policies that can eventually properly address climate change challenges and be applicable in a more efficient way. Countries such as Bulgaria and Poland are categorised as semi-consolidated. Latvia became a democratic state only after independence in 1991, but corruption remains a major problem affecting politics and internal institutions. Countries such as Malta and Croatia have a lower GDP than the average EU state, and this important factor can explain their behaviours towards adopting or refusing climate change actions. The retail electricity prices among the European Member States vary immensely, with Denmark’s being three times more expensive that Bulgaria’s (cheapest price). It is important to consider that the cheapest retail prices are in countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Romania, and Hungary, who are also seen as foot-dragging and have only partially addressed the recommendations regarding their internal markets (European Commission 2019e). Countries that are characterised as fence-sitting, which falls between pace-setting and foot-dragging, are considered to hold a more neutral position and usually prefer to build coalitions with others on an ad-hoc basis (Börzel 2002). Such countries are Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia and Luxembourg. Ireland largely addressed the EU’s directions as per the 911 and 906 SWDs (European Commission 2020b), and set a 2030 GHG emission target of 30% compared to their 2005 levels, which was not covered in the EU Emissions Trading System. On the other hand, Italy either partially or largely addressed most of the parameters, except for R&I and competitiveness (no. 911). At the same time, several countries’ policies, identified in the final NECPs, are similar to objectives rather than clear actions (no. 906) (European Commission 2020b). For instance, the Netherlands’ GHG emission reductions seem to focus on their existing policies and not on presenting a holistic blend of measures. Thus, the 2030 ESR target may not be possible to achieve (no. 918) (European Commission 2020b). At the same time, the Netherlands’ NECP does not explain how the country can apply energy efficiency’s first principle (no. 918) (European Commission 2020b). Despite their previous leadership in the design and implementation of complete and thorough environmental policies, the country is recently seen as a laggard, mostly interested in protecting the existing set ups and the needs of their internal industrial stakeholders, rather than complying with the European policies and regulations, especially in the RES (Hoppe and Bueren 2017). In Finland, the need for immediate and accurate compliance with the European environmental and climate policies changed their usual procedure so dramatically that they had to consult with the internal interested stakeholders (Börzel 2007). Although most parties within the political spectrum of a Member State address climate change, the presence of a left-wing government increases the chances of obtaining positive decisions to adopt and follow more ambitious climate and energy policies (Tobin 2017). This happened in Portugal, where the Socialists have been in power since 2015, but in the last 2019 election, they obtained a minority government. Furthermore, Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, in addition to Malta and Cyprus, have shown a much higher degree of readiness and compliance, when compared to the previous accession of Southern countries (Greece, Spain, and Portugal). However, these CEE countries still do not have an adequate administration capacity, mainly due to drawbacks caused by corruption, authoritarianism, poor organisation, and small socio-economic growth. Compliance with the newly imposed EU rules is mostly related to a country’s legal and administrative capacity. Another important factor is that the EU has intensified its support to build Member States’ capacities for achieving compliance, mostly through various funding programmes’ financial and technical assistance (Börzel and Buzogány 2019). Furthermore, although CEE countries’ performance and attitudes are not comparable to those of the Southern European countries, during the early stages of the EU’s accession Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 14 of 17 (i.e., Greece, Spain, and Portugal), they may still be reluctant to comply and adopt aspiring climate and energy policies. For example, several countries, such as Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, depend on coal for their energy and are, thus, reluctant to adopt and implement other energy sources, such as renewables (Skjærseth 2014). For this reason, these countries have partially addressed the recommendations for Decarbonisation-RES in their NECPs. The Europeanisation process of Estonian foreign policy took place during the 1990s, made significant progress in EU cohesion policy in the 2000s, and Estonia successfully joined the EU in 2004. Afterwards, the country’s externality efforts reduced and delays in the Europeanisation process emerged. Regarding environmental and climate aspects, Estonia reported an overall improving implementation trend in the annual distribution of environmental infringements during the last years, from 19 in 2008 to only 2 in 2015 (Melidis and Russel 2020). However, its NECP partially addressed the recommended targets (Raagmaa et al. 2014). Finally, with regard to Slovenia, after its accession to the EU and becoming a full member in 2004, the central government still plays the most critical role, while different stakeholders and local communities are more promising actors for political decentralisation, and assist in the country’s compliance with EU rules and regulations (Lindstrom 2005). 5. Conclusions The European Commission aims to achieve a climate neutral economy by 2050, with energy transformation playing the most critical role. To establish a well-defined framework that will contribute to this aim, Member States have been asked to submit their final NECPs, in which they were required to set detailed national objectives, targets, and contributions, as well as policies and measures to achieve the objectives, especially the 2030 EU energy and climate targets. However, the COVID-19 crisis may have distracted these Member States from the process of properly preparing, designing, and submitting their final NECPs. In other words, this unforeseen pandemic may have derailed Member States from their initial focus and approach towards new priorities that require an immediate response. The main purpose and main contribution of this study is to conduct up-to-date and up- to-date research on the design and adoption of EU Member States’ policies on common European policy and integration issues. One of them concerns the issue of energy and climate policy, but also the Green Agreement in general, which was recently announced and which is expected to have the greatest impact on European policy in the next period 2021–2027. Using Börzel’s (2002) categorisation for the Member States, it is observed that there is a significant variation in their strategies and compliance. Some Member States that were initially characterised as foot-dragging, such as Greece, Portugal, and Spain, can now be considered as fence-sitting, and others that were seen as fence-sitting, can now be perceived as either foot-dragging (e.g., Luxembourg) or pace-setting (e.g., France and Italy). Variation can be explained through various reasons, such as domestic players; lacking capacities; and populist governments. There is a large and vivid discussion on these topics in energy and EU studies journals which would help formulating clear-cut expectations (see, Zapletalová and Komínková 2020). Europeanisation is a multi-faceted and dynamic process, which can be viewed with a top-down and/or bottom-up perspective, that continuously evolves during the long process of adopting a new legislation to a local legal system. Coherence and uniform responses are required in the final NECPs, but this process quite often encounters reactions, delays, partial acceptance, and ultimately, a controversial and incomplete implementation of measures. In the case of NECPs, Member States have different reasons and causes that affected their responses and characterised them as either partially or largely addressing the required commitments in the European Commission’s targets for achieving a climate neutral European economy by 2050. Proposals for further actions at both research and policy level are summarised in key points such as (i) examining in more detail the emerging energy and climate policies, so that the necessary specific measures can be taken and possible. their adoption and imple- Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 15 of 17 mentation by final consumers and society; to continue to have the regular re-examination of each NECP that has been submitted and any need to change or update them. In reality, it looks that there is no clear pattern to predict compliance amongst EU Member States, while in many times the notion of national interests as misaligned against regional efforts. Author Contributions: Writing—original draft preparation, G.M. and F.F.; writing—review and editing, G.M. and F.F. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript. Funding: This research received no external funding. Institutional Review Board Statement: Not applicable. Informed Consent Statement: Not applicable. Data Availability Statement: The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author. Acknowledgments: The authors wish to acknowledge Nikolaos Apostolopoulos and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest. References Aggestam, Filip, and Helga Pülzl. 2020. Downloading Europe: A Regional Comparison in the Uptake of the EU Forest Action Plan. 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The Green Deal, National Energy and Climate Plans in Europe: Member States’ Compliance and Strategies

Administrative Sciences , Volume 11 (3) – Jul 23, 2021

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administrative sciences Article The Green Deal, National Energy and Climate Plans in Europe: Member States’ Compliance and Strategies 1 , 1 , 2 Georgios Maris * and Floros Flouros Department of the Mediterranean Studies, University of the Aegean, 85132 Rhodes, Greece Department of History, Politics and International Studies, Neapolis University, 8042 Pafos, Cyprus; f.flouros@aegean.gr or f.flouros@nup.ac.cy * Correspondence: gmaris@aegean.gr; Tel.: +30-224-1099-334 Abstract: This paper analyses the EU’s policies for energy and climate, using Börzel’s theoretical framework on Europeanisation, and examines Member States’ Green Deal responses, strategies, and compliance. As expressed in their final NECPs, although Member States’ responses vary, most of the critical components were partially addressed, while the others were largely addressed. We observe a considerable variation in Member States’ strategies. Member States classified as foot-dragging beforehand are fence-sitting now, while those previously categorised as fence-sitting are now either foot-dragging or pace-setting. The root cause of these classification changes for the Member States within the EU can be traced back to their internal environments in which the involved stakeholders each have a different response pace regarding environment, climate, and energy. We present and analyse our theoretical context, discuss the EU’s energy policies and the NECPs, examine Member States’ responses and compliance with this new framework, and propose several challenges. Keywords: European Union; energy; environment; compliance; Green Deal; NECP; strategy Citation: Maris, Georgios, and Floros Flouros. 2021. The Green Deal, 1. Introduction National Energy and Climate Plans in Energy policies, involving considerations of energy autonomy and environmental Europe: Member States’ Compliance impacts, are a crucial issue for world economies and state governments. Recently, the and Strategies. Administrative Sciences International Energy Agency published an energy policy report confirming COVID-19 s 11: 75. https://doi.org/10.3390/ tremendous impact on the energy sector and forecasting an annual energy demand decline admsci11030075 of six per cent in 2020 (International Energy Agency 2020). Due to the drastic COVID-19 government policies, this reduction will have an impact on both global CO emissions and Received: 29 June 2021 incomes, although only temporarily because it is not related to the structural transformation Accepted: 20 July 2021 of economic and energy systems, and both governments and production sectors would pre- Published: 23 July 2021 fer to postpone the Green Deal targets and limit emission standards (Le Quéré et al. 2020). The role of energy in climate change is challenging economies and lifestyles, being per- Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral ceived as a catalyst for a second energy revolution that strives for a low carbon future, and with regard to jurisdictional claims in the present situation’s urgency has increased due to the recent pandemic (Yergin 2020). published maps and institutional affil- The European Union (EU) has also recognised energy and environmental issues as key and iations. critical components, which resulted in the European Commission’s 2020 decision to move forward with an unprecedented step that will lead to a so-called “zero-carbon” economy. In this context, we must consider Member States’ alignment with the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), given the European Commission’s general directions, as well as the Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. limitations related to their compliance. This paper is the first to examine this topic or the Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. first to analyse this topic using this particular framework. The main purpose and main This article is an open access article contribution of this study is to conduct an up-to-date research on the design and adoption distributed under the terms and of EU Member States’ policies on common European policy and integration issues. One conditions of the Creative Commons of them concerns the issue of energy and climate policy, but also the Green Agreement in Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// general, which was recently announced and which is expected to have the greatest impact creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ on European policy in the next period 2021–2027. Methodologically, in this context we 4.0/). Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75. https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci11030075 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/admsci Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 2 of 17 analyse and evaluate the behaviour of the Member States using the data from the NECPs, trying in parallel to decode their strategies through Börzel’s (2002) theoretical framework. Thus, this paper analyses the EU’s policies for energy and climate, using Börzel’s (2002) theoretical framework on Europeanisation, and examines Member States’ Green Deal re- sponses, strategies, and compliance. As expressed in their final NECPs, although Member States’ responses vary, most of the critical components were partially addressed, while the others were largely addressed. When comparing these responses with Börzel’s categorisa- tions, some countries classified as foot-dragging beforehand are fence-sitting now, while those previously categorised as fence-sitting are now either foot-dragging or pace-setting. The root cause of these classification changes for the 27 Member States within the EU can be traced back to their internal environments in which the involved stakeholders each have a different response pace regarding environment, climate, and energy. To fulfil this paper ’s aim, we present and analyse our theoretical context (the Europeanisation process), discuss the EU’s energy policies and the NECPs, examine Member States’ responses and compliance with this new framework, and propose several challenges. 2. The Europeanisation Process: A Theoretical Context Although the multi-faceted process of Europeanisation does not provide the dynamics or complexities of European transformation (Olsen 2002), it can be a helpful research tool for providing information on the interactions between European and domestic ac- tors (Radaelli 2004). To avoid several methodological issues that may affect our analy- sis (Exadaktylos and Radaelli 2009; Haverland 2006), we used Börzel’s (2002) theoretical framework to examine Member States’ responses to Europeanisation, and the main actors’ strategies and compliance with regard to the Green Deal and NECPs. In other words, this framework can help us to examine how the Member States both shape and adapt to these European policies. Börzel (2002) developed a theoretical framework that analyses three different strategies (pace-setting, foot-dragging, and fence-sitting), which repre- sent differences in preferences and action capacities, in order to conceptually connect the two opposite dimensions of Europeanisation (bottom-up and top-down). According to Börzel (2002, p. 194) the three strategies are differentiated as: “pace-setting, i.e., actively pushing policies at the European level, which reflect a Member State’s policy preference and minimise implementation costs; foot-dragging, i.e., blocking or delaying costly policies in order to prevent them altogether or achieve at least some compensation for implemen- tation costs; and fence-sitting, i.e., neither systematically pushing policies nor trying to block them at the European level but building tactical coalitions with both pace-setters and foot-draggers”. In this regard, energy-rich and climate-sensitive EU Member States, with energy intensive industries, actively push their policy preferences to the EU (pace-setting). On the other hand, foot-dragging is generally not a primary choice for Member States, because the NECP is not binding, and finally fence-sitting is mostly linked with national priority setting, as is the case in Southern European countries that are more concerned with guiding specific actions to deal with climate issues, such as fires, floods, and environ- mental catastrophes (Aggestam and Pülzl 2020). Although almost 20 years have passed since it was first introduced, this framework continues to enable us to separate Member States’ compliance with the various environmental and energy issues through its clear and concise categorisation that is provided to the researchers. In this paper, we will provide an up-to-date categorisation of the Member State’s behavior and strategies for the Green Deal evaluating the NECP’s data. Recently, more up to date literature has also been used to analyse other issues, for example the Council’s leadership and Member States’ behavior for environmental dynam- ics in the EU (see, Wurzel et al. 2019). Other scholars have used Börzel’s framework to analyse and evaluate various topics, such as determining medium Member States’ roles in the creation of the European Monetary Union (Maes and Verdun 2005), identifying leaders and laggards in environmental policy (Liefferink et al. 2009), explaining the French policy on the EU’s “gouvernement économique” (Howarth 2007), etc. However, even Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 3 of 17 more recently, Micallef Grimaud (2018) used this framework to examine the EU’s legisla- tive decision-making processes, with regard to governmental power and influence, and Stegmann McCallion (2020) tested whether the EU’s contemporary transformation became more inter-governmental. In addition, Coman (2020) analysed the Romanian rotating EU council presidency, and Zaun (2020) examined the differences in the negotiation dynam- ics of the EU’s asylum policies and its post-2016 reform deadlock. Other scholars used a slightly different theoretical context to examine leadership laggards, pioneers, push- ers, and leaders with regard to the EU’s environmental policies and climate governance (Jänicke and Wurzel 2018; Liefferink and Wurzel 2017; Wurzel et al. 2018). In the past few years, scholars have also analysed Europeanisation’s impact on en- vironmental and energy politics, as well as state capacity and compliance. For example, Torney and O’Gorman (2019) assessed the EU’s membership restrictions on Ireland’s cli- mate change and environmental policy. Others have investigated EU and Member States’ in- teractions in shaping the EU’s renewable energy policy (Solorio Sandoval and Jörgens 2017). In this regard, Avrami and Sprinz (2018) discovered that the Member States found many ways to escape the EU climate policy’s limitations, due to the flexible Kyoto mechanisms and reduction targets. Other scholars have studied the economic crisis’ influence on Member States’ degrees of implementation (Maris and Sklias 2020), arguing that it af- fected them in various ways and that the reduction in environmental rules was con- nected to reductions in economic activity (Melidis and Russel 2020). In the same vein, Solorio and Jörgens (2020) believed that during an economic crisis, the Europeanisation of renewable energy policy can stimulate de-Europeanisation and probably a partial in- tegration process withdrawal. Similarly, Tobin (2017) examined climate policy variations between developed states, finding Austria to be an interesting laggard in climate policy, and Aggestam and Pülzl (2020) assessed the EU’s forest action plan, discovering different Europeanisation effects on EU Member States. Furthermore, regarding Brexit’s impact on environmental policies, Burns et al. (2019) observed that Europeanisation’s influence is so important that even Brexit will not lead to environmental policy reversals. In terms of third countries, Iangbein and Börzel (2013) argued that many factors affect Eastern neighbour- hood countries’ influence on EU policy changes, and Hofmann et al. (2019) asserted that even third countries such as Switzerland and Norway can shape the EU’s energy policies, because of their accession and structural power. On the other hand, even though the Member States prefer to have control over energy policy issues, especially in times of crises, the European Commission found a way to expand supranational authority with the institutionalisation of new instruments centred on “real-time compliance” (Maltby 2013; Thaler and Pakalkaite 2020). Indeed, this strategy is closely related to the European Commission’s wider institutionalised efforts to prevent non-compliance (Falkner 2018; Scholten 2017), which still remains a “black box” (Versluis 2007). However, energy policy involves both structural and polit- ical causes, as well as characteristics that may affect implementation and compliance (Van de Graaf et al. 2017). Based on Börzel and Buzogány (2019), country-specific vari- ables, such as legal culture and administrative traditions, state power and capacity, political systems, and low socio-economic development, are the main causes of EU Member States’ non-compliance. Torney and O’Gorman (2019, pp. 577–80) also found several reasons for this non-compliance, including Member States’ internal administrative structure fragmen- tation, lacking administrative capacities, weak internal institutions, the existence of “veto players”, and internal “political and social activism”. 3. European Union’s Policies for NECP’s For many years, energy politics in the EU was a voluntary process that relied on Member States’ good will (Behrens et al. 2011). For example, during the 1970s, when the famous oil crisis occurred, Member States acted individually to implement energy policies (McGowan 2011). It appears that many political factors and perceptions affect Member States’ behaviours, as they have been reluctant for several years to disclose any Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 4 of 17 energy security competencies to the European Commission (Pointvogl 2009). In the 1980s, even with the internal market’s introduction, there was no vision to create a common energy policy, despite its importance for governments, interest groups, and the European Commission (Matlary 1997). However, in the following period, it was envisioned that the EU should be able to tackle several challenges, such as growing imports and the environmental impact of energy production and use (Kanellakis et al. 2013). Accordingly, during the European Council meeting on 27 October 2005, the EU decided to officially establish a promising energy policy. Two years later, the European Commission published “An Energy Policy for Europe” communication, which was adopted by the Council and the European Parliament (European Commission 2007). Subsequently, article 194 of the Lisbon Treaty included energy policy among the primary issues, mainly because of the liberalisation agenda that occurred within the Community. This evolution improved the EU’s international leadership position in energy and environmental issues (Oberthür and Roche Kelly 2008; Van Schaik and Schunz 2012) After Eurozone’s economic crisis in 2009, the Jean Claude Juncker Commission set EU’s energy strategy as a key priority, aimed at establishing an Energy Union that of- fers consumers secure and sustainable energy. As a result, the European Commission issued the energy union strategy on 25 February 2015 (European Commission 2015) and thereafter, monitored its proper implementation and Member States’ issuance of related progress reports. However, many energy policy issues remained at the national level, as the Europeanisation process in energy policy requires the involvement of and close cooper- ation between Member States. Recently, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s political programme seriously considered energy policy and climate change adaptation, declaring an aim to transform Europe into “the first climate-neutral continent” through the recently announced European Green Deal. For that purpose, it is important to provide the conditions to achieve a “just transition for all” that will contribute to social cohesion, long-term growth, and sustainability (von der Leyen 2019, pp. 5–6). With regard to adopting climate change actions, Europe recognises several urgent challenges: the av- erage air temperature is globally increasing, while the climate changes annually; 10% to 15% of the Earth’s species are already at risk of being extinct; nature and oceans are being contaminated and destroyed; and sea levels are expected to rise, causing more floods and potentially bringing serious unforeseen problems in several geographical areas. Following this, the European Commission (2019c) acknowledged that the challenges are “complex and interlinked”; suggested that any policy recommendations and decisions should be “bold and comprehensive and seek to maximise benefits for health, quality of life, resilience and competitiveness”; and highlighted the need for “intense coordination to exploit the available synergies across all policy areas”. The EU declared that they would like to have “a clean energy transition”, which can further support the aims announced in the Paris Agreement (European Commission 2019d). In order to meet the agreed targets for 2030, the EU’s objectives are to (1) reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by a minimum of 40% (the GHG reduction target for 2030 has been already revised by the European Commission and the Council where documents now state “at least 55%”, and the Council has adopted this target too (see also European Climate Law and the 2030 Climate Target Plan, currently under discussion, which will codify the 2030 target into law), (2) increase the renewable energy sources (RES) quota to a minimum of 32% EU energy use, (3) increase energy efficiency by a minimum of 32.5%, (4) guarantee a minimum of 15% electricity inter-connection levels among neighbouring Member States, and (5) support Research and Innovation (R&I) initiatives through the available financing tools. In order to reach the recently declared European Union’s energy and climate targets until the year 2030, it has been decided that all European Union countries have to design and set up a 10-year integrated NECPs that will be implemented during the period 2021 until 2030. In these NECPs, each European Union Member State needs to analyse, de- sign, propose and implement the way that it will deal with concepts such as greenhouse Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 5 of 17 gas emissions reductions, renewables, energy efficiency, interconnections, research and innovation. To provide further support for achieving the EU targets, each Member State must initially send their NECP, which discloses their process and actions for meeting national targets within 10 years (connected to the Energy Union’s five key characteristics), current energy systems, and prevailing policies (European Commission 2019d). To achieve a “sustainable low-carbon economy”, the European Commission predicted that public and private investment changes are needed, in addition to any incentives across the entire policy range (European Commission 2019d). Member State governments had to prepare and provide their final NECPs, which considered the 2030 milestone, by the end of 2019, and weigh the Commission’s evaluation and suggestions. They also had to submit biannual progress reports, under the European Commission’s supervision, to ensure prompt and successful responses, as well as Member States’ alignment with the set targets. To ensure that the Member States received proper detailed guidelines and support, in June 2019, the European Commission (2019a, 2019b, 2019e) published a communication that included 28 draft NECPs, special recommendations, and comprehensive “Staff Working Documents” (SWD) for each Member State. During NECP preparations, each Member State should publicly consult county authorities in a well-structured and official way to ensure that the community has enough time to seek information, study, and provide the required feedback. In the next milestone, set for October 2021, the European Commission has scheduled to assess Member States’ progress, which should take place every two years, regarding their NECPs’ implementation status. The latter includes their progress in achieving the targets, updates on policies and measures, and updated projections for the future. 4. Member States’ Responses, Strategies and Compliance with the New Framework International energy collaborations seem to be more effective at the level of inter- national governance, rather than within the internal dimensions of domestic policy co- ordination (Lesage et al. 2010; Maris et al. 2021). Practically, this means that there are several possible response and compliance perceptions. On the one hand, the availability and even abundance of energy supply urged most Member States to consider energy security issues as low priority (Szulecki and Westphal 2014). Accordingly, the foreign policy dimensions of energy security remained a second priority compared to the EU’s prominent climate change policies (Youngs 2009). Member States were criticised for not understanding that dealing with climate change requires more dedicated and geo-strategic foreign policies, and not only internal energy targets (Pascual and Zambetakis 2010). At the same time, several diplomats and politicians raised some concerns with regard to the EU’s emphasis on climate change issues, which subsequently affected its overall energy policy (Youngs 2009). Member States responded differently to the integration process, due to their internal structural parameters as well as their perceptions of the decision-makers as either a strength or risk for their own countries (Mišík 2019; Maris and Flouros 2021). Depending on this perception, Member States can either support EU integration and adopt common policies in their national legislation or oppose, delay, and even reject this process. 4.1. Methodology of the Empirical Study The main purpose of this research was to examine the level of adoption of EU Member States’ of the new issues of energy and climate policies at their national level and their alignment with the common direction from the European Union. The main research question was to investigate how each country reacts to the central direction set by the EU and consequently how they design their own NECP. In case of similarities and grouping among several Member States, it is also interesting to understand how they are grouped, both in relation to the existing theoretical models and also at an empirical level. This research was based on secondary sources and was conducted during the period February- April 2021, with an extensive search to find the appropriate sources and to locate the necessary information about NECP. Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 6 of 17 4.2. Evaluation of the Assessment Report Based on the EU Assessment Report on NECPs, which the European Commission recently published, all Member States have submitted their final NECP plans, after the initial schedule and time line delays, and the lengthy discussions at the national level that involved local stakeholders and concerned groups (European Commission 2020a). Such a process is expected to enhance the finally approved NECPs’ public acceptance, making implementation easier and more efficient. The following bullet points offer a concise summary for each of the aforementioned NECP parameters and Table 1 summarises the key points of the assessment report. Based on the data and information contained in each Commission Staff Working Document (SWD) of the final NECP for each member country, we evaluate the data presenting at the same time the results (see also, Table 2). The creation and use of figures below were deemed appropriate as they can always offer in a simple and concise way the conclusions of the evaluation of the final NECPs. Table 1. Summary of the assessment report on NECPs. Parameters EU Assessment 2050 Targets Scale Several countries placed aspiring objectives National targets are within the 0–40% in areas not included in the EU’s emission range until 2030 vs. 2005 to meet the EU’s trading system. Other countries foresaw that GHG emissions requirements. Minimum reductions in B the national targets can further reduce GHG areas which are not included in the EU’s emissions more than their Effort Sharing emission trading system. Regulation (ESR) binding targets. RES amounts in the EU’s total energy mix Renewable energy Minimum 32% until 2030. AA could meet the 33.1% to 33.7% levels by 2030. A 29.7% [1176 Mtoe] reduction in primary Difference between the target, equalling to Energy efficiency energy and 29.4% in final energy 2.8% primary energy consumption, and the C consumption [885 Mtoe] until 2030. 3.1% final energy consumption. Malta, Portugal Luxembourg, France, and COVID-19 has also affected energy security. Lithuania submitted their targets (internal). More focus is required on the resilience of Bulgaria, Italy, Estonia, Germany, Poland, clean technology supply chains. The design Energy security Croatia, and Ireland scheduled more Liquid B/C and implementation of important clean Natural Gas (LNG) capacities to secure gas technology procurement and logistics market supply and/or increase competition requires recovery and resilience plans. (external). Some Member States submitted suggestions Even if countries adopt separate processes and prioritised energy subsidies in their for integration, the EU strategy provides an Internal energy NECPs: 19 countries included content on action plan to adjust energy markets to B/C market fossil fuel subsidies, 12 set action plans to climate neutrality needs and could be seen eliminate fossil fuels, and six reported a time as a driver for implementing more resilient line to end part of the fossil fuel incentives. energy systems. Little focus on R&I requirements for reaching A fresh strategic intention for clean energy climate and energy targets. National budgets R&I and rivalry is required to support dedicated to R&I in clean energy European economies and assist innovation. technologies are smaller compared to Research & This could help economies include previous years. The national targets, with C Innovation (R&I) innovation and new technologies. For both specific and clear 2030 and 2050 directions, the EU and national R&I policies, local are missing. In most cases, the NECP reports industrial policies should effectively fit the only financially support existing non-energy energy and climate targets. specific programmes. Scale: AA: Excellent; A: Very Good; B: Good; C: Below Target; D: Failure. Source: The assessment is based on the European Commission (2020a). Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 7 of 17 Table 2. Overall assessment: EU Member States’ final NECPs. Largely Addressed Partially Addressed Austria Belgium Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Italy Ireland Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Total 10 17 Source: European Commission (2020a). After the recent SWD publications on 14 October 2020, the European Commission issued recommendations for each Member State and a detailed account of how the previous recommendations were reflected in the final NECPs. The UK is not included, because Brexit is still undergoing negotiations. Figure 1 illustrates that 17 out of 27 countries partially addressed the recommendations Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 8 of 18 and 10 largely addressed them. In the following figures, each of the NECP parameters represent the factors in the European Commission’s final SWD. Final Assessment Overall of NECPs 38% 62% Largelly Addressed Partially Addressed Figure 1. Final NECPs: Overall assessment. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 1. Final NECPs: Overall assessment. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 2 depicts the final NECPs’ decarbonisation-GHG parameter. The 11 Member States that considered this parameter as not applicable or relevant are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. If we also consider that Denmark, Latvia, and Malta did not address this factor, 50% of the countries ignored decarbonisation-GHG. In fact, only Germany fully addressed this recommendation in the final NECP. Decarbonization-GHG 1 11 1 N/A Not Addressed Not addressed- Partially Addressed Partially Not addressed- Largely addressed Fully addressed Partially Addressed Addressed-Largelly Partially addressed- addressed Largelly addressed Figure 2. Final NECPs: GHG decarbonisation. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 3 reveals that nine Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, Slovakia and Sweden) partially and fully addressed the recommendations regarding decarbonisation-RES, seven countries (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Slovenia) partially and largely addressed them, and only Lithuania largely and fully addressed them. Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 8 of 18 Final Assessment Overall of NECPs 38% 62% Largelly Addressed Partially Addressed Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 8 of 17 Figure 1. Final NECPs: Overall assessment. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 2 depicts the final NECPs’ decarbonisation-GHG parameter. The 11 Member Figure 2 depicts the final NECPs’ decarbonisation-GHG parameter. The 11 Member States that considered this parameter as not applicable or relevant are: Bulgaria, Croatia, States that considered this parameter as not applicable or relevant are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. If we also consider that Denmark, Latvia, and Malta did not address this factor, 50% Spain. If we also consider that Denmark, Latvia, and Malta did not address this factor, of the countries ignored decarbonisation-GHG. In fact, only Germany fully addressed this 50% of the countries ignored decarbonisation-GHG. In fact, only Germany fully addressed recommendation in the final NECP. this recommendation in the final NECP. Decarbonization-GHG 1 11 1 N/A Not Addressed Not addressed- Partially Addressed Partially Not addressed- Largely addressed Fully addressed Partially Addressed Addressed-Largelly Partially addressed- addressed Largelly addressed Figure 2. Final NECPs: GHG decarbonisation. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 2. Final NECPs: GHG decarbonisation. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 3 reveals that nine Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Figure 3 reveals that nine Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, Slovakia and Sweden) partially and fully addressed the recommendations Poland, Spain, Slovakia and Sweden) partially and fully addressed the recommendations re- regarding decarbonisation-RES, seven countries (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, garding decarbonisation-RES, seven countries (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 9 of 18 Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Slovenia) partially and largely addressed them, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Slovenia) partially and largely addressed them, and only and only Lithuania largely and fully addressed them. Lithuania largely and fully addressed them. Decarbonization-RES 1 11 Not addressed-Partially Not addressed-Partially Partially addressed Partially Addressed- Not Addressed-Fully Partially-Fully addressed Largerly-Fully addressed Not-Partially-Largerly-Fully Addressed addressed-Fully addressed Largelly addressed addressed addressed Figure 3. Final NECPs: RES decarbonisation. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 3. Final NECPs: RES decarbonisation. Source: European Commission (2020a). As seen in Figure 4, 10 out of 27 have not and only partially addressed the recom- mendations on energy efficiency in their NECPs, specifically Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, and Luxembourg, while only Italy partially and fully addressed them. Energy Efficiency Not addressed- Partially Addressed Partially Addressed- Partially Addressed- Not addressed- Not addressed- Not addressed- Partially Addressed Largely Addressed Fully addressed Partially Addressed- Largerly Addressed Partially addressed- Fully addressed Largelly addressed Figure 4. Final NECPs: Energy efficiency. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 5 shows that 10 out of 27 Member States partially addressed the recommen- dations on energy security (Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia and the Netherlands), four did not consider them applicable or relevant (Croatia, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Portugal), and only Spain fully addressed them. Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 9 of 18 Decarbonization-RES 1 11 Not addressed-Partially Not addressed-Partially Partially addressed Partially Addressed- Not Addressed-Fully Partially-Fully addressed Largerly-Fully addressed Not-Partially-Largerly-Fully Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 9 of 17 Addressed addressed-Fully addressed Largelly addressed addressed addressed Figure 3. Final NECPs: RES decarbonisation. Source: European Commission (2020a). As seen in Figure 4, 10 out of 27 have not and only partially addressed the recom- As seen in Figure 4, 10 out of 27 have not and only partially addressed the recom- mendations on energy efficiency in their NECPs, specifically Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, mendations on energy efficiency in their NECPs, specifically Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, and Luxembourg, while only Italy Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, and Luxembourg, while only Italy partially and fully addressed them. partially and fully addressed them. Energy Efficiency Not addressed- Partially Addressed Partially Addressed- Partially Addressed- Not addressed- Not addressed- Not addressed- Partially Addressed Largely Addressed Fully addressed Partially Addressed- Largerly Addressed Partially addressed- Fully addressed Largelly addressed Figure 4. Final NECPs: Energy efficiency. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 4. Final NECPs: Energy efficiency. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 5 shows that 10 out of 27 Member States partially addressed the recommen- Figure 5 shows that 10 out of 27 Member States partially addressed the recommenda- da tions tions on on en energy ergy s security ecur(Czech ity (Czech Republic, Repub Estonia, lic, Esto Germany nia, Germ , Hungary any, Hu,nga Italy ry, I , Ireland, taly, Irelan Latvia, d, Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 18 Lat Malta, via, Ma Slovakia lta, Sland ovak the ia a Netherlands), nd the Netherla four nds) did , fnot our di consider d not consi themdapplicable er them applica or relevant ble or (Cr relev oatia, ant (C Denmark, roatia, Denm Luxembour ark, Luxem g, and bou Portugal), rg, and Po and rtug only al), and Spain only fully Spaddr ain fu essed lly address them. ed them. Energy Security 2 2 1 1 1 N/A Not addressed Not Addressed- Partially Partially Partially Largely addressed Fully addressed Largely Addressed Addressed addressed-Largelly Addressed-Fully addressed addressed Figure 5. Assessment on the energy security parameter of the final NECPs. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 5. Assessment on the energy security parameter of the final NECPs. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 6 indicates that 13 out of 27 partially addressed the recommendations on in- Figure 6 indicates that 13 out of 27 partially addressed the recommendations on ternal energy markets in their NECPs: Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hun- internal energy markets in their NECPs: Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, gary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia. Additionally, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden did not consider them ap- plicable or relevant. Internal Energy Markets 1 1 N/A Not addressed Not addressed-Partially Partially Addressed Partially addressed- Largely addressed Addressed Largelly addressed Figure 6. Final NECPs: Internal energy market. Source: European Commission (2020a). Finally, Figure 7 represents the R&I and Competitiveness parameter. Most Member States (18 out of 27) partially addressed the recommendations. The countries that are ex- cluded from this group are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy, Latvia, the Neth- erlands, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia. However, the Netherlands in fact largely ad- dressed the recommendations. Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 18 Energy Security 2 2 1 1 1 N/A Not addressed Not Addressed- Partially Partially Partially Largely addressed Fully addressed Largely Addressed Addressed addressed-Largelly Addressed-Fully addressed addressed Figure 5. Assessment on the energy security parameter of the final NECPs. Source: European Commission (2020a). Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 10 of 17 Figure 6 indicates that 13 out of 27 partially addressed the recommendations on in- ternal energy markets in their NECPs: Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hun- Hungary gary, Ital,y, Ir Italy elan , Ireland, d, Latv Latvia, ia, Ma Malta, lta, Pol Poland, and, Por Portugal tugal an and d Slov Slovakia. akia. Addi Additionally tionally,, Aus Austria, tria, Belgium, Belgium, Fin Finland, land, Luxemb Luxembour ourg, the g, the Ne Netherlands, therlands, anand d Sweden Sweden did did not consider not consider them ap- them applicable or relevant. plicable or relevant. Internal Energy Markets 1 1 N/A Not addressed Not addressed-Partially Partially Addressed Partially addressed- Largely addressed Addressed Largelly addressed Figure 6. Final NECPs: Internal energy market. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 6. Final NECPs: Internal energy market. Source: European Commission (2020a). Finally, Figure 7 represents the R&I and Competitiveness parameter. Most Member Finally, Figure 7 represents the R&I and Competitiveness parameter. Most Member States (18 out of 27) partially addressed the recommendations. The countries that are ex- States (18 out of 27) partially addressed the recommendations. The countries that are excluded cluded from from this this group group are Au are str Austria, ia, BelgBelgium, ium, BulgBulgari aria, Denm a, Denmark, ark, Italy, L Italy atv,ia Latvia, , the Ne the th- Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 11 of 18 Netherlands, erlands, Portuga Portugal, l, Roma Romania nia and Slov and ak Slovakia. ia. Howe However ver, the ,Neth the Netherlands erlands in fact largely in fact largely ad- addr dresse essed d the the recommendations. recommendations. Research & Innovation (R&I), Competitiveness Not addressed Not addressed- Partially Addressed Partially Addressed- Largelly Addressed Partially Addressed Largely Addressed Figure 7. Final NECPs: R&I and competitiveness. Source: European Commission (2020a). Figure 7. Final NECPs: R&I and competitiveness. Source: European Commission (2020a). Table 3 below summarises the results of each Member States’ responses and compli- Table 3 below summarises the results of each Member States’ responses and compli- ance with the European Commission’s directions and recommendations regarding energy ance with the European Commission’s directions and recommendations regarding energy and climate. Based on the European Commission’s assessment, each Member State can be classified into one or two categories. Table 3. EU Member States’ compliance based on their final NECPs. Auditor Categories EU Compliance N/A Not Partially Largely Fully Belgium, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Austria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Estonia, Finland, Greece, EU Countries Latvia, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Netherlands Spain, Sweden Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia 4.3. Member States’ Strategies and Compliance and Change To assess each Member State’s level of compliance with the European Commission’s directions and recommendations in their NECPs (see also Torney and O’Gorman 2019), Table 4 categorises the EU Member States’ energy and climate/environment strategies based on the EU’s recommendations (European Commission 2020b). The table shows a considerable change in the categorisation of some Member States: Greece, Portugal, and Spain were foot-dragging, but are fence-sitting in their final NECPs; Luxembourg was initially fence-sitting (Börzel 2002) but is now foot-dragging; and countries such as France and Italy are pace-setting, based on their NECP responses. Table 4. EU Member States’ long-term strategies in energy and climate (environment). Strategy Foot-Dragging Fence-Sitting Pace-Setting Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Member State Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Austria, Denmark, France, Compliance Luxembourg, Malta, Poland Lithuania, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Sweden Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 11 of 17 and climate. Based on the European Commission’s assessment, each Member State can be classified into one or two categories. Table 3. EU Member States’ compliance based on their final NECPs. Auditor Categories EU Compliance N/A Not Partially Largely Fully Belgium, Czech Republic, Austria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Greece, EU Countries Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal, Luxembourg, Netherlands Hungary, Malta, Poland, Spain, Sweden Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia 4.3. Member States’ Strategies and Compliance and Change To assess each Member State’s level of compliance with the European Commission’s directions and recommendations in their NECPs (see also Torney and O’Gorman 2019), Table 4 categorises the EU Member States’ energy and climate/environment strategies based on the EU’s recommendations (European Commission 2020b). The table shows a considerable change in the categorisation of some Member States: Greece, Portugal, and Spain were foot-dragging, but are fence-sitting in their final NECPs; Luxembourg was initially fence-sitting (Börzel 2002) but is now foot-dragging; and countries such as France and Italy are pace-setting, based on their NECP responses. Table 4. EU Member States’ long-term strategies in energy and climate (environment). Strategy Foot-Dragging Fence-Sitting Pace-Setting Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Member State Compliance Latvia, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Portugal, Malta, Poland Sweden Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain According to this analysis, Figure 8 presents a map illustrating the Member States’ strategies in energy, climate, and environment policies. Initially, six countries were con- sidered pace-setters: Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, and Finland (Börzel 2002). These countries had been industry leaders in Europe for a while because their governments had implemented environment, climate, and energy restrictions and regulations long ago. Generally, these countries are more likely to be aligned with high European standards, but the assessments on the Netherlands and Denmark revealed that their final NECPs only partially addressed the EU’s directions, the 918 and 903 SWDs, respectively (European Commission 2020b). Germany is considered one of the most influential countries within the EU, especially concerning energy related issues. Although it strongly supports initiatives and policies related to RES and climate change, Germany is slow to respond and support some areas, such as energy market liberalisation and achieving a consensus for European energy policy (Birchfield and Duffield 2011). Along with Germany, Sweden is a climate leader and prefers adopting an ambitious climate policy, which having a high GDP and EU membership can support (Tobin 2017). In addition, Denmark clarified that its NECP is a generic plan in which the criteria set by the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive do not apply (no. 903) (European Commission 2020b). The country has not addressed how it intends to reach its 2030 GHG emissions target, as recommended by the European Commission on 18 June 2019 (no. 903) (European Commission 2020b). At the same time, its planned policies and measures are not well described in most of the NECP parameters, despite the fact that after the last general election in 2019, the Social Democrats and their centre-left allies agreed to form a government that finally set on one of the most ambitious climate Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 12 of 18 Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 12 of 17 According to this analysis, Figure 8 presents a map illustrating the Member States’ strategies in energy, climate, and environment policies. Initially, six countries were con- sidered pace-setters: Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, and Finland policies in the world. Nonetheless, after years of budget cuts under the previous Prime (Börzel 2002). These countries had been industry leaders in Europe for a while because their Minister govern Rasmussen, ments had implemented Mette Frederiksen environmen becametthe , clim country’s ate, and energy r youngesteprime striction minister s and , and her administration’s green agenda aimed to further support the North Sea offshore regulations long ago. Generally, these countries are more likely to be aligned with high wind projects and establish artificial energy island(s). As Denmark has a high GDP, in European standards, but the assessments on the Netherlands and Denmark revealed that addition to its EU membership, it is largely compliant with the European Commission’s their final NECPs only partially addressed the EU’s directions, the 918 and 903 SWDs, climate and energy directions for the 2030 and 2050 goals as set in the NECPs. respectively (European Commission 2020b). Figure 8. Energy and climate long-term strategies—Member States. Source: Authors. Figure 8. Energy and climate long-term strategies—Member States. Source: Authors. Germany is considered one of the most influential countries within the EU, especially Italy and France have largely addressed the EU recommendations, as per the 911 and concerning energy related issues. Although it strongly supports initiatives and policies 909 SWDs (European Commission 2020b), respectively, and could be potentially or actively related to RES and climate change, Germany is slow to respond and support some areas, pace-setting Member States, rather than fence-sitters. Italy’s available administrative such as energy market liberalisation and achieving a consensus for European energy pol- system to support and assist the country’s efforts to comply with the European climate and icy (Birchfield and Duffield 2011). Along with Germany, Sweden is a climate leader and energy policies appears to be less capable than required, mainly because it is complicated prefers adopting an ambitious climate policy, which having a high GDP and EU member- and bureaucratic, while also unequal across the spectrum of technology and its applications ship can support (Tobin 2017). In addition, Denmark clarified that its NECP is a generic (Di Nucci and Russolillo 2017). France’s situation is unique, as the country was following plan in which the criteria set by the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive do not a “state-centric” energy policy that must change to comply with the latest EU energy apply (no. 903) (European Commission 2020b). The country has not addressed how it in- policy (Birchfield and Duffield 2011). Although the country considers itself a special tends to reach its 2030 GHG emissions target, as recommended by the European Commis- case and does not include fossil fuels in its energy mix, it finally expressed its desire and sion on 18 June 2019 (no. 903) (European Commission 2020b). At the same time, its willingness to comply with the EU’s energy policy, as also described in its latest NECP, planned policies and measures are not well described in most of the NECP parameters, which the European Commission characterised as largely compliant and ready to contribute despite the fact that after the to emissions reduction. last general election in 2019, the Social Democrats and their On the other hand, countries seen as foot-draggers are industrial latecomers with less developed regulatory structures, such as Portugal, Greece, and Spain (Börzel 2002). Ireland has been trying to “promote a green image” (fence-sitter), while Poland noted Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 13 of 17 its opposition to “the whole idea of a low-carbon economy” in 2014 when the European Commission designed its previous climate and energy package (Skjærseth 2014, p. 510). Both democratisation level and internal power separations in a Member State play a significant role in the adoption of environmentally friendly policies that can eventually properly address climate change challenges and be applicable in a more efficient way. Countries such as Bulgaria and Poland are categorised as semi-consolidated. Latvia became a democratic state only after independence in 1991, but corruption remains a major problem affecting politics and internal institutions. Countries such as Malta and Croatia have a lower GDP than the average EU state, and this important factor can explain their behaviours towards adopting or refusing climate change actions. The retail electricity prices among the European Member States vary immensely, with Denmark’s being three times more expensive that Bulgaria’s (cheapest price). It is important to consider that the cheapest retail prices are in countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Romania, and Hungary, who are also seen as foot-dragging and have only partially addressed the recommendations regarding their internal markets (European Commission 2019e). Countries that are characterised as fence-sitting, which falls between pace-setting and foot-dragging, are considered to hold a more neutral position and usually prefer to build coalitions with others on an ad-hoc basis (Börzel 2002). Such countries are Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia and Luxembourg. Ireland largely addressed the EU’s directions as per the 911 and 906 SWDs (European Commission 2020b), and set a 2030 GHG emission target of 30% compared to their 2005 levels, which was not covered in the EU Emissions Trading System. On the other hand, Italy either partially or largely addressed most of the parameters, except for R&I and competitiveness (no. 911). At the same time, several countries’ policies, identified in the final NECPs, are similar to objectives rather than clear actions (no. 906) (European Commission 2020b). For instance, the Netherlands’ GHG emission reductions seem to focus on their existing policies and not on presenting a holistic blend of measures. Thus, the 2030 ESR target may not be possible to achieve (no. 918) (European Commission 2020b). At the same time, the Netherlands’ NECP does not explain how the country can apply energy efficiency’s first principle (no. 918) (European Commission 2020b). Despite their previous leadership in the design and implementation of complete and thorough environmental policies, the country is recently seen as a laggard, mostly interested in protecting the existing set ups and the needs of their internal industrial stakeholders, rather than complying with the European policies and regulations, especially in the RES (Hoppe and Bueren 2017). In Finland, the need for immediate and accurate compliance with the European environmental and climate policies changed their usual procedure so dramatically that they had to consult with the internal interested stakeholders (Börzel 2007). Although most parties within the political spectrum of a Member State address climate change, the presence of a left-wing government increases the chances of obtaining positive decisions to adopt and follow more ambitious climate and energy policies (Tobin 2017). This happened in Portugal, where the Socialists have been in power since 2015, but in the last 2019 election, they obtained a minority government. Furthermore, Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, in addition to Malta and Cyprus, have shown a much higher degree of readiness and compliance, when compared to the previous accession of Southern countries (Greece, Spain, and Portugal). However, these CEE countries still do not have an adequate administration capacity, mainly due to drawbacks caused by corruption, authoritarianism, poor organisation, and small socio-economic growth. Compliance with the newly imposed EU rules is mostly related to a country’s legal and administrative capacity. Another important factor is that the EU has intensified its support to build Member States’ capacities for achieving compliance, mostly through various funding programmes’ financial and technical assistance (Börzel and Buzogány 2019). Furthermore, although CEE countries’ performance and attitudes are not comparable to those of the Southern European countries, during the early stages of the EU’s accession Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 14 of 17 (i.e., Greece, Spain, and Portugal), they may still be reluctant to comply and adopt aspiring climate and energy policies. For example, several countries, such as Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, depend on coal for their energy and are, thus, reluctant to adopt and implement other energy sources, such as renewables (Skjærseth 2014). For this reason, these countries have partially addressed the recommendations for Decarbonisation-RES in their NECPs. The Europeanisation process of Estonian foreign policy took place during the 1990s, made significant progress in EU cohesion policy in the 2000s, and Estonia successfully joined the EU in 2004. Afterwards, the country’s externality efforts reduced and delays in the Europeanisation process emerged. Regarding environmental and climate aspects, Estonia reported an overall improving implementation trend in the annual distribution of environmental infringements during the last years, from 19 in 2008 to only 2 in 2015 (Melidis and Russel 2020). However, its NECP partially addressed the recommended targets (Raagmaa et al. 2014). Finally, with regard to Slovenia, after its accession to the EU and becoming a full member in 2004, the central government still plays the most critical role, while different stakeholders and local communities are more promising actors for political decentralisation, and assist in the country’s compliance with EU rules and regulations (Lindstrom 2005). 5. Conclusions The European Commission aims to achieve a climate neutral economy by 2050, with energy transformation playing the most critical role. To establish a well-defined framework that will contribute to this aim, Member States have been asked to submit their final NECPs, in which they were required to set detailed national objectives, targets, and contributions, as well as policies and measures to achieve the objectives, especially the 2030 EU energy and climate targets. However, the COVID-19 crisis may have distracted these Member States from the process of properly preparing, designing, and submitting their final NECPs. In other words, this unforeseen pandemic may have derailed Member States from their initial focus and approach towards new priorities that require an immediate response. The main purpose and main contribution of this study is to conduct up-to-date and up- to-date research on the design and adoption of EU Member States’ policies on common European policy and integration issues. One of them concerns the issue of energy and climate policy, but also the Green Agreement in general, which was recently announced and which is expected to have the greatest impact on European policy in the next period 2021–2027. Using Börzel’s (2002) categorisation for the Member States, it is observed that there is a significant variation in their strategies and compliance. Some Member States that were initially characterised as foot-dragging, such as Greece, Portugal, and Spain, can now be considered as fence-sitting, and others that were seen as fence-sitting, can now be perceived as either foot-dragging (e.g., Luxembourg) or pace-setting (e.g., France and Italy). Variation can be explained through various reasons, such as domestic players; lacking capacities; and populist governments. There is a large and vivid discussion on these topics in energy and EU studies journals which would help formulating clear-cut expectations (see, Zapletalová and Komínková 2020). Europeanisation is a multi-faceted and dynamic process, which can be viewed with a top-down and/or bottom-up perspective, that continuously evolves during the long process of adopting a new legislation to a local legal system. Coherence and uniform responses are required in the final NECPs, but this process quite often encounters reactions, delays, partial acceptance, and ultimately, a controversial and incomplete implementation of measures. In the case of NECPs, Member States have different reasons and causes that affected their responses and characterised them as either partially or largely addressing the required commitments in the European Commission’s targets for achieving a climate neutral European economy by 2050. Proposals for further actions at both research and policy level are summarised in key points such as (i) examining in more detail the emerging energy and climate policies, so that the necessary specific measures can be taken and possible. their adoption and imple- Adm. Sci. 2021, 11, 75 15 of 17 mentation by final consumers and society; to continue to have the regular re-examination of each NECP that has been submitted and any need to change or update them. In reality, it looks that there is no clear pattern to predict compliance amongst EU Member States, while in many times the notion of national interests as misaligned against regional efforts. Author Contributions: Writing—original draft preparation, G.M. and F.F.; writing—review and editing, G.M. and F.F. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript. Funding: This research received no external funding. Institutional Review Board Statement: Not applicable. Informed Consent Statement: Not applicable. Data Availability Statement: The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author. Acknowledgments: The authors wish to acknowledge Nikolaos Apostolopoulos and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest. References Aggestam, Filip, and Helga Pülzl. 2020. Downloading Europe: A Regional Comparison in the Uptake of the EU Forest Action Plan. 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Journal

Administrative SciencesMultidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

Published: Jul 23, 2021

Keywords: European Union; energy; environment; compliance; Green Deal; NECP; strategy

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