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News in Brief, BB200710

Obstacles to an EU energy efficiency plan

05.11.2007

By 2020, Europe aims to cut its energy consumption by 20%, which would lighten the EU energy bill by an estimated €100 billion per year. This target is a response to the increasing pressure of climate change and the desire to reduce the EU’s dependency on imported oil and gas. If the goal is met, Europe will prevent the emission of 780 million tonnes of CO2, which is equivalent to twice the amount it agreed to under the Kyoto Protocol.

Aiming for these goals involved the implementation of several legislative measures, which include a directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services. As a result of the directive, the EU Member States were required to draw up national action plans (NAPs) by 30 June 2007, and this is where the problems start. So far, only fifteen Member States out of 27 have submitted their plans, and the Commission has launched infringement procedures against the remaining twelve.

In her draft opinion on the action plan for energy efficiency, UK Liberal MEP Fiona Hall criticises the Commission for failing to appoint a sufficient number of officials to guarantee its successful implementation. She emphasises the fact that the 20% energy saving target contained in the action plan is "entirely feasible technically and economically". The opinion is part of a European draft non-legislative resolution and concludes that EU countries have largely failed to realise their own commitments to reducing energy consumption. Moreover, it highlights that the Member States’ implementation of existing energy efficiency legislation is "incomplete and behind schedule despite their rhetoric about climate change". The report is to be voted upon by the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee at the end of November and will pass before the plenary in mid January 2008.

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