Saving energy across Europe

16th July 2012

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Liberal Democrat MEP Fiona Hall describes why the agreement of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive is so important for the bloc's efforts to reduce environmental impacts

For the past year I have been working with other MEPs, the European Commission and representatives from member states on what is seen as the EU’s biggest piece of legislation aimed at curbing energy demand, the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED).

Its aim is to ensure the EU’s 20% energy-savings target is reached in 2020, and to reap the resulting economic, environmental and social benefits.

Following 12 months of very tough negotiations the text, as provisionally agreed, will now take us to roughly a 17% saving by 2020.

This final result is better than nothing, particularly considering the current budget constraints in all member states and a reluctance to provide upfront funding for new measures, as well as persistent demands from the outset for the EED to allow sufficient flexibility so that national energy-efficiency measures already in place do not have to be rewritten completely.

One of the most significant measures outlined in the EED is a requirement on member states to put in place energy supplier obligations to achieve annual savings among final customers.

This measure was in part modelled on the UK’s carbon emissions reduction target and its successor, the energy company obligation, which are seen as an effective way of kick-starting the market in energy services and encouraging investment in energy-efficiency improvements.

Another important new element in the Directive – introduced not by the commission but by MEPs – is a requirement for member states to adopt long-term national strategies and measures for the substantial renovation of existing buildings.

The EU’s existing building stock accounts for more than one-third of the EU’s energy consumption and its carbon emissions, so getting national governments to tackle the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings is a major step forward.

Fiona Hall is the Liberal Democrat MEP for the North East of England


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