Connecting EU’s energy networks will ensure that households, businesses and hospitals in all EU member countries are always powered. A more interconnected energy grid will also make sure that renewable energy produced from for example wind power in the North Sea, solar energy from southern Europe and biomass from eastern Europe can be transported and consumed elsewhere in Europe.
Sharing energy across borders - via a connected modern energy grid - will create a system that is more secure, sustainable and affordable. It will also bring advantages in case of unexpected shortages or blackouts, especially in countries vulnerable to supply shortages, such as islands or those located on the periphery of Europe.
Pact for stakeholder engagement in grid development
In its Communication “Grids, the missing link: An EU Action Plan for Grids”, the Commission announces the launch of a “Pact for Engagement to ensure early, regular and meaningful stakeholder engagement in grid development”, together with Member States, ACER and national regulatory authorities, transmission and distribution system operators, ENTSO-E and the EU DSO Entity, project promoters and civil society representatives.
The Pact resides on several pillars of action, covering
- a strengthened efforts in communicating the role of grids for the energy transition
- more engagement in the fora focusing on grid acceleration and faster implementation of permitting rules
- sustained dialogue with regulators on the relevance and recognition of engagement activities
- and adequate organisational set-ups for stakeholder engagement activities
It distils the learnings of a decade long experience in implementing the TEN-E Regulation and the evaluation of its performance, best practice exchanges in the PCI Days and Energy Infrastructure Forum, as well as input from project promoters and civil society in different fora. On 28 November 2023, during the 4th PCI Energy Days, the Commission officially launched the Pact for Engagement and kicked-off a symbolic signature process of the Pact with key stakeholders: ENTSO-E, RGI, ACER and the EU DSO Entity.
Communicate and engage with citizens
The European Commission supports energy infrastructure projects, and in particular, those that are selected as projects of common interest (PCIs). The PCIs are cross-border projects, often important in size, demanding in time and resources and selected through a transparent multi-stakeholder process to address regional infrastructure needs in Europe.
EU citizens’ support for the PCIs is important, especially, but not only, from those living in the communities and regions that benefit most from the projects, whether it is the construction of a new undersea link or overhead line, or the development of a smart grid.
The construction of cross-border energy infrastructure projects is often complex, crossing several jurisdictions and affecting several communities. Although PCIs bring important benefits by increasing the security of supply, ensuring price convergence across regions and integrating large shares of renewables, these benefits are not always visible and can therefore trigger concerns and opposition.
Delays in the construction of these key projects mean that the benefits are not delivered to our economies and societies, slowing the speed of the energy transition. Moreover, lack of necessary infrastructure negatively affects households and citizens across Europe.
Local awareness campaigns
To build local support for a PCI, it is crucial to inform citizens about the need for that project, what are the alternatives considered and the benefits the project will bring to their communities. It is equally important to communicate in a transparent manner about the impact the new energy infrastructure might have at the local level and economy and the different measures taken to ease such impact. Organising regular communication and engagement campaigns before the start of a project will address concerns, increase trust in the process and acceptance by potentially allowing for collaborative solutions on the ground.
In its efforts to support transparency and consultation with local communities and stakeholders during the implementation of PCIs, the European Commission developed in 2021 new communication material that can support promoters to carry out local communication initiatives. It includes
- Engagement book – support material for PCI project promoters (EN)
- Animated video – explaining PCIs (EN)
- Poster - for print (EN)
- On-line brochure (EN)
- On-line factsheet- questions and answers (EN)
In addition, the Commission has prepared a PCI promoters toolkit with material that can be adapted to the needs of local promoters, by translating the messages, adding logos or illustrations. The editable toolkit includes
- PowerPoint slides
- 2 poster templates
The promoters’ toolkit can be requested by sending a message to: ENER-C4-PROJECTSec [dot] europa [dot] eu (ENER-C4-PROJECTS[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu)