Paul Cartuyvels, Deputy Director of Bouygues Europe, represents the Group at the European institutions in Brussels. He gives us his vision of European energy issues on the occasion of Europe Day, on 9 May.
What is the significance of the decisions taken in Brussels for a group like Equans?
"Two-thirds of national regulations come from the European Union, so it is important to participate actively in this legislative process. In addition, some types of projects involving Equans may be eligible for European funding. But Europe is also about the exceptional work we do jointly, solidarity with the most disadvantaged regions, and support for innovation. There are 27 countries trying to work as one, notably by harmonising their regulations. For groups like Equans that are EU-wide, this is very positive."
What is the state of play in Europe's energy sector?
"Having previously imported up to 70% of its energy, Europe has been striving for over 20 years both to improve its energy self-sufficiency and to reduce its environmental impact. Today, everything has accelerated under the pressure of the climate crisis and the geopolitical situation. We are trying to achieve a highly interconnected market in which countries can help each other. Furthermore, while each country retains sovereignty over the composition of its energy mix, Europe is asking each country to set targets for CO2 reduction, rollout of renewables, and energy efficiency. This dynamic is perceived differently by individual countries, depending on how far advanced they are on these issues."
What role does Europe play in energy transition?
"The Commission has recently produced or revised numerous texts on energy and the environment, causing European companies to worry about their competitiveness because their international competitors are not subject to the same regulations. The Net Zero Industry Act, currently under discussion, is intended to be the European response to the major American programme for energy transition, the Inflation Reduction Act. The Commission is focusing on large strategic projects to produce renewable energy, directing funding towards initiatives with the highest potential to reduce CO2 emissions. At the same time, the Commission is controlling imports of certain materials produced outside the EU at lower cost and with higher carbon emissions: this is called the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, a “carbon tax” the transition phase of which will begin on 1 October 2023, with full entry into force in 2026, and which will also impact the Group. In industry, decarbonisation is being promoted through the European CO2 emissions trading scheme for energy-intensive industries.
As a delegation to the European institutions, our role is to inform all the Bouygues Group's business units of current or future regulations, and also to put forward the Group's issues, constraints and interests. So, while agreeing on the objectives, we are trying to advocate for simplification and more pragmatism."