Energy Efficiency Directive
Member states would abandon 20% savings target
By Tamás Kugyela | Wednesday 04 April 2012
The member states’ ambassadors approved, on 3 April, a compromise proposal for the text of the Energy Efficiency Directive
(1), which practically abandons the 20% energy savings target already set for 2020. The Danish Presidency, deeming the differences between EU countries otherwise insurmountable, eased the draft directive’s provisions on all important points. This latest text provides more power and flexibility for decisions at national level, departing from the Commission’s original text. At the present stage of discussions, the Council is to reject the creation of binding national targets outright, moving very far from the position of the European Parliament’s Committee on Energy (ITRE).
PRIMARY VS FINAL ENERGY
Reportedly under the pressure of France, Sweden and Finland, an alternative mechanism for calculating energy savings may be used (Article 3). Instead of taking the absolute level of
primary energy consumption as a basis, member states can “also express their savings in terms of
final energy consumption in 2020”. This method excludes deliveries to the energy transformation sector and the energy industries themselves: it does not take into account the energy consumed in energy production, for example the creation of electricity from natural gas.
ONLY CENTRAL GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS
The obligation to renovate 3% of the floor area of central government buildings every year (Article 4) should only apply to the administrative departments “whose competence extends over the whole territory” of the country, the text reads. In addition, these buildings have to be “owned and occupied” by the central government to fall under the scope of the directive. This change excludes hospitals, schools and other government-owned facilities, to the relief of the Central and Eastern European member states. Belgium and Austria, which wanted the directive to apply to their federal communities, inserted aparagraph that allows them to do so.
Parliament’s suggestion to decrease the energy consumption of all buildings in the EU by 2050 was rejected as too ambitious for implementation.
PURCHASING BY PUBLIC BODIES
“Member states shall
encouragepublic bodies to purchase only products, services and buildings with high energy efficiency performance,” says the new text, which is a step back from the Commission and Parliament paper, which would
obligegovernments to do so. Also, the Council would narrow the scope of this provision by lifting the value threshold of public contracts it applies to.
ENERGY COMPANIES’ SAVING OBLIGATIONS
The ‘engine’ of the directive, the obligation of energy distributors and retailers (Article 6) would be also modified. The proposal would introduce an incremental pace for member states to achieve a 1.5% savings target in the field. This would mean 1% savings up to 2015, 1.25% until the end of 2017 and 1.5% by 2020, effectively decreasing the overall savings rate to approximately 1.3%. This change is reported to have been put forward by the Czech Republic and Romania.
To prevent double obligations within the Emmission Trading Scheme (ETS), 40% of the sales of energy used by industries falling under the ETS may be excluded from this calculation. This modification, agreed upon by ambassadors on 4 April, marks a 20% rise compared to the original Presidency draft.
The Council is about to endorse one important amendment of the Parliament, though: a list of possible financial facilities to leverage the necessary investments in the energy efficiency field. The creation of a European Energy Efficiency Fund is on the table, and a Hungarian proposal to activate and strengthen the effort-sharing decision (ESD) to finance renovation works also received wide support. The idea is to introduce an EU-wide goal for these sectors too, creating tradeable quotas, which could be used to attract private investment in renovation efforts (see
The current version of the text above all bears the mark of the French, British, Scandinavian and Central European delegations. Germany is said to have been out of the line of the negotiations and not taking the usual leading role.
Three-way talks with the Parliament promise to be long and complicated, endangering the set June deadline for an informal agreement on the major points. The first, introductory meeting is scheduled for 11 April.
The text of the proposal is available at
www.europolitics.info > Search = 312259
(1) Based on COM(2011)0370 of the European Commission, published on 22 June 2011