EU Parliament challenges Spain on renewables, solar tax

Workers installing solar panels on rooftop in Spain. Photo: El Confidencial
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► MEPs vote 594-67 for increased EU commitment to solar, wind energy ►

A European parliament vote in Strasbourg last week to increase the amount of renewable energy consumption by EU member states to 35 percent by the year 2030 has paved the way for a showdown with the European Council executive in Brussels, where some EU-member governments that include Spain continue to hold out for a lower target agreed in 2014 of just 27 percent of energy consumption corresponding to renewable sources by the 2030 date.

The EU parliamentarians sent a resounding rebuke to the EU Council’s insistence on the lower target, with 594 votes in favor and only 67 against a measure that calls for the increase to 35 percent in renewables consumption. If adopted by the EU, the measure would also force Spain to abandon its “sun tax” on auto-consumption of renewable energy by homeowners and businesses, passed by the absolute majority of the governing Partido Popular (PP) in Congress in 2015.

Only EU Parliament members (MEPs) from Hungary and Spain’s PP cast ballots against the measure, the latter standing alone against the votes of other members of their own EU-wide European People’s Party (EPP) federation of conservative parties.

Leading the charge with an amendment that would block Spain from continuing the sun tax was MEP José Blanco, the former deputy general secretary of Spain’s Socialist party (PSOE) and minister of Public Works and Transportation from 2009-2011 in the PSOE government of President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Blanco, who is in charge of setting the EU Parliament’s position on renewable energy policies, insisted on including an amendment to the measure voted last week that would protect self-consumption of renewable energy as a right and prohibit EU member states from imposing any tax or surcharge on energy produced outside a country’s official energy grid.

► Read More in Spanish at El Confidencial, El País and El Pueblo Digital …

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