Sunday

28th May 2023

Leaked EU document says energy efficiency just a 'slogan'

  • A worker about to install double glazing - an energy efficiency measure which can help reduce energy bills as well as reduce carbon footprints (Photo: European Parliament)

The majority of national governments of the European Union think that the commitment to put energy efficiency first is no more than a slogan, according to a leaked document.

The document, originating from the Council of the EU – where member states meet – was seen by this website. It suggested that member states want to keep firm control over which energy infrastructure projects to prioritise.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • EU member states want to keep the power to prioritise gas infrastructure projects over energy savings projects (Photo: nord-stream2.com)

The document said that countries should not be obliged to give energy efficiency projects priority over gas infrastructure projects – which are more harmful to the climate.

The majority of member states understand 'energy efficiency first' "more as a slogan", the document said, adding that they prefer to honour the 'cost-efficiency first' principle.

The paper raises questions about how promises and speeches on achieving an Energy Union will be put in practice.

According to the European Commission, reducing energy consumption by using it more efficiently – for example by insulating old buildings – is a core priority.

The commission has called this the 'energy efficiency first' principle and calls on member states to view energy efficiency as an energy source in and of itself.

The commission's 2016 strategy paper Clean Energy for All Europeans called the principle one of the strategy's three main goals.

"Energy efficiency is the most universally available source of energy," the paper said.

"Putting energy efficiency first reflects the fact that the cheapest and cleanest source of energy is the energy that does not need to be produced or used," it added.

The paper was accompanied by a proposed regulation, which is currently being negotiated by the European Parliament and the council.

The parliament wants to clearly define the principle, and lay down in law that it means "the prioritisation, in all energy planning, policy and investment decisions, of measures to make energy demand and energy supply more efficient".

MEPs want energy efficiency to actually be treated as a priority, for example over other energy infrastructure projects.

Infrastructure, but not a priority

But the council is not keen on that, according to the leaked document.

The paper is a review of the first high-level negotiations – or trilogue – between parliament, council, and commission.

"The idea of the EP is to put the energy efficiency projects in the same level-playing field as other energy infrastructure project in terms of financing opportunities and mechanisms," the paper said.

It asked member states if they could accept, by way of compromise, energy efficiency being treated "as an infrastructure", but not "as an infrastructure priority".

The paper said that the latter would be against the subsidiarity principle, which states that decisions should be taken at the level of government closest to citizens.

Clemence Hutin, campaigner for the environmental lobby group Friends of the Earth Europe, blamed Bulgaria's environment minister, who in the past has questioned the scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming.

Bulgaria is currently chairing the council as rotating EU presidency.

"This document exposes how the Bulgarian EU presidency, and it's climate-denying environment minister, would have Europe continue to waste energy in order to boost profits for the gas industry," said Hutin.

"While millions of Europeans are locked in energy poverty, including four in ten Bulgarians, it's baffling to see decision-makers turn their backs on the most effective way to cut fossil fuels dependency and people's energy bills, whilst jeopardising Europe's chance of averting catastrophic climate change," she added.

EU fixes own mistake on 'confusing' energy labels

UPDATED: MEPs approved a new system to inform consumers about the energy efficiency of products. The most important change is abolishing the most recent change to a scale that goes up to A+++.

EU seeks to renovate 35 million buildings by 2030

The European Commission unveiled the EU's "renovation wave", aimed at doubling the renovation rate of existing buildings in the decade, and creating five new 'European Bauhaus' hubs across the EU, where architects and engineers can collaborate on green projects.

EU: national energy price-spike measures should end this year

"If energy prices increase again and support cannot be fully discontinued, targeted policies to support vulnerable households and companies — rather than wide and less effective support policies — will remain crucial," the commission said in its assessment.

Opinion

EU export credits insure decades of fossil-fuel in Mozambique

European governments are phasing out fossil fuels at home, but continuing their financial support for fossil mega-projects abroad. This is despite the EU agreeing last year to decarbonise export credits — insurance on risky non-EU projects provided with public money.

Latest News

  1. How the EU's money for waste went to waste in Lebanon
  2. EU criminal complicity in Libya needs recognition, says expert
  3. Europe's missing mails
  4. MEPs to urge block on Hungary taking EU presidency in 2024
  5. PFAS 'forever chemicals' cost society €16 trillion a year
  6. EU will 'react as appropriate' to Russian nukes in Belarus
  7. The EU needs to foster tech — not just regulate it
  8. EU: national energy price-spike measures should end this year

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. InformaConnecting Expert Industry-Leaders, Top Suppliers, and Inquiring Buyers all in one space - visit Battery Show Europe.
  2. EFBWWEFBWW and FIEC do not agree to any exemptions to mandatory prior notifications in construction
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us