EU Parliament approves binding EU energy savings law

The European Parliament approved by a very large majority the deal on the Energy Efficiency Directive struck in June 2012 between the Parliament, Member States and the Commission. The adoption in the beginning of September clears the way for the directive to enter into force by the end of October and will kick-off the race to reach Europe’s 20 % energy savings target.

The directive requires mandatory energy-saving measures, including renovating public buildings, energy-saving schemes for utilities, and energy audits for all large firms. Cutting energy consumption by 20 % could save the EU € 50 billion per year.

Member states are to renovate 3 % of the total floor area of "heated and/or cooled buildings owned and occupied by their central government" (administrative departments whose responsibilities cover the entire territory of a member state). This will apply to buildings with a "total useful floor area" of more than 500 m², and as from July 2015, of more than 250 m². However, member states will also be able to use alternative means to achieve equivalent energy savings.

Energy companies covered by the directive will have to achieve a "cumulative end-use energy savings target" by 2020. This target will have to be at least equivalent to achieving new savings, each year, from 2014 to 2020, of 1.5 % of annual energy sales to final customers, by volume, and averaged over the most recent three-year period before the directive takes effect.

All large enterprises will be required to undergo an energy audit. These audits will need to start within three years of the directive's entry into force and should be carried out every four years by qualified and accredited experts. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be excluded from this obligation.The directive will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the EU's Official Journal and member states will have 18 months to transpose it into their national laws.

Katharina Ertmer

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