Opinion & Analysis

Beyond the numbers of EU national energy and climate plans

To ensure compliance with ambitious European Union energy and climate targets, countries must periodically submit National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) to the European Commission. These plans outline how each country intends to achieve the 2030 decarbonisation targets for renewables and energy efficiency.

The first round of NECPs were submitted in 2019 and a second round in 2023/2024. Thus, plans now exist for all countries at two different periods in time. This is a remarkable source of information for those interested in European energy policy, comparable across both countries and time.

However, analysis of NECPs is limited by the length the documents, which each run into hundreds of pages (Ember has published a comprehensive tracker of electricity sector impacts while the Commission is required to perform an assessment – but this is understandably tailored toward EU-level general insights).

Ongoing and rapid advances in natural language processing should ease the burden of analysing the documents by enabling the development of tools to highlight progressively deeper insights. We conducted a simple relative frequency analysis for a series of words mentioned in the NECPs to indicate whether interesting insights lie within.

About the Authors

Ben McWilliams is working for Bruegel as an Affiliate fellow in the field of Energy and Climate Policy. His work involves data-driven analysis to critique and inform European public policy, specifically in the area of the energy sector and its decarbonisation. Recent work has focussed on the implications of the ongoing energy crisis and policy options for responding. Other topics of interest include tools for stimulating industrial decarbonisation and the implications for new economic geography from the advent of new energy systems, particularly from hydrogen.

Georg Zachmann is a Senior Fellow at Bruegel, where he has worked since 2009 on energy and climate policy. His work focuses on regional and distributional impacts of decarbonisation, the analysis and design of carbon, gas and electricity markets, and EU energy and climate policies. Previously, he worked at the German Ministry of Finance, the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin, the energy think tank LARSEN in Paris, and the policy consultancy Berlin Economics.

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