Renewable energy is an important and dynamically growing sector which will serve, inter alia, to improve the energy security of the European Union based on its domestic sources. Moreover, it contributes decisively to achieving our climate targets and confirms the leading role of the European Union in promoting clean energy policies. Specifically for Greece, the rich potential in renewable sources is likely to reinforce energy security, without losing sight of the need to promote electrical interconnections between the Aegean islands and the mainland. In this context and given the problems currently faced by producers of renewable energy, will the Commission say:

— What measures has it taken to help solve the problem of the high cost of preparing and constructing renewable energy projects and the long period of time it takes for the projects to be developed and reach maturity?
— How does it intend to help fund renewable energy projects, particularly through arrangements that will ensure the promotion of all the projects in Member States with low credit ratings?
— How is it promoting the financing of electricity interconnections with a view to ending the energy isolation of certain geographic areas, such as, in Greece, the Aegean islands and Crete?

Answer given by Mr Arias Cañete on behalf of the Commission

The Renewable Energy Directive(1) with the legally binding 20% EU target for 2020 and legally binding national targets has been a clear driver for investments in renewable energy. Furthermore, the Commission has proposed the Energy Union framework strategy with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy which will set a new direction and a clear long term vision for European energy and climate policy, addressing also renewable energy sources(2), in view of achieving the EU level target of at least 27% by 2030 agreed by EU leaders in October 2014.

Specifically for Greece, the Commission supports, through its Technical Assistance, the Greek Government in its efforts to reform the renewable energy regulatory and legislative framework in the short to medium-term.

The forthcoming European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) will help in attracting additional funds for growth generating investments in the European and Member States economy, including in renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy infrastructure. Infrastructure projects which have acquired the status of project of common interest (PCIs)(3), may also benefit from financial support under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The Euroasia PCI cluster connecting mainland Greece via Crete to Cyprus and Israel is an example of such a project.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency investments are also prioritised in the EU Cohesion and Investment Funds for 2014-2020. It is however up to the Member States to decide which renewable energy technologies and projects they wish to support from the EU Cohesion and Investment fund allocations.

(1) Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources.
(2) A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward Looking Climate Change Policy COM(2015) 80.
(3) In line with the process set by Regulation (EU) No 347/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council (TEN-E Regulation).