Energy efficiency directive: Trilogue compromise is missed opportunity

Following several months of intense negotiations, Member States and the European Parliament have reached agreement on the Energy Efficiency Directive. Whilst the efforts of the Parliament’s negotiators and the Danish Presidency to raise the directive’s ambition level must be lauded, the overall result remains disappointing. In particular the provisions regarding buildings are too weak to kick-start wide-spread and well planned refurbishment activities.

Oliver Loebel, Secretary General of PU Europe stated: “Despite all evidence that building refurbishment can give a boost to the economy, generate local jobs and increase government revenues, Member States continue to look at energy efficiency solely as a cost. The fact that the EU is transferring €420 billion per year to other regions of the world to cover its fossil fuel needs does not seem to have impressed national ministers”.

In spite of these negative aspects, the directive contains a number of encouraging provisions. In particular, the requirement for Member States to establish a long-term strategy for mobilizing investment in the renovation of the entire national stock offers the opportunity to develop tailored national roadmaps with a view to reducing the energy demand of buildings by 80 % by 2050.

On the other hand, the provisions regarding public buildings cannot be expected to have any tangible effects. Whether the energy efficiency obligation schemes and the provisions on financing will help to realise the full savings potential of buildings will largely depend on national implementation.

“The directive contains so many loopholes that Member States can easily avoid ambitious measures. It can only be hoped that national governments look at the economics of building refurbishment again when transposing the directive into national law”, Loebel concluded.

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