Energy efficiency is good for climate, consumers and industry – so why undermine it?


The EU Council of Ministers wants to slow down annual obligations on energy savings by quietly introducing a whole new range of “flexibilities” after 2020, some of which are well-hidden in an Annex of the proposed Energy Efficiency Directive, writes Benedek Jávor.

Benedek Jávor is a Hungarian Member of the European Parliament for the Greens/EFA group. He is shadow rapporteur on the recast Energy Efficiency Directive. 

Energy efficiency isn’t just good for the climate and a necessary tool to help the European Union meet the Paris Agreement. It’s also good for citizen’s health and helps them save money. Industry will also benefit from a new energy efficiency toolkit through increased competitiveness and greater investment, leading to local job creation, not least at the level of Small and Medium Enterprises.

Negotiations on the Energy Efficiency Directive are now entering a decisive stage, with talks between the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission set to run until the end of the month in order to obtain a final deal under the Bulgarian presidency before mid-June. The Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament wants to make sure everyone benefits from an ambitious approach to energy efficiency: climate, consumers and industry.

Negotiations have proved rather difficult, as the co-legislators come from very different starting points. One element is the headline target, which the European Parliament has set as binding and at least 35% by 2030. Another element is the yearly energy savings to be achieved among final consumers.

The Council wants to slow down the delivery of annual energy savings by introducing a whole new range of “flexibilities” after 2020. Some of these loopholes are well-hidden in an Annex of the Directive, far from the politicised discussion about the overall headline target.

An example of these is the Council’s proposal to enlarge the eligibility of measures to those savings stemming from the implementation of pre-2010 building codes for new buildings. This obscure provision would mean that Member States would be able to account for the construction of new buildings as

energy savings, without considering the existing obligation on this matter. This breaches the basic principle of “additionality”, which requires that efficiency measures must go beyond existing EU legislation to be counted. They should also not be retroactive, i.e. change the ongoing legislative framework.

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