Tuesday

14th Jul 2020

Dutch minister misunderstands EU procedure

  • Some say the system to get an energy label for your house in the Netherlands is sensitive to fraud (Photo: Bert Kaufmann)

Dutch minister for housing Stef Blok thinks the European Commission has given him a stamp of approval for the way he applied European rules on energy labels, but appears to have misunderstood a procedural step announced by Brussels on Thursday (25 February).

“Europe allows Dutch energy label, no fine”, the ministry said in a press release on Thursday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

The Dutch announcement said that the European Commission had “ended the procedure to investigate if the Dutch energy label for homes complies with European rules”, adding that a potential annual fine of €90 million “is off the table”.

The Dutch system had come under fire because the process to determine the energy efficiency of a house can be done entirely online, without any physical checks on-site. Some argued that the Netherlands had not correctly transposed the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive into national law.

Minister Blok “had always had faith in the outcome of the procedure”, the Dutch press release said.

But a European Commission spokesperson told this website that the Netherlands was not off the hook yet.

It appears that the Dutch government confused an infringement procedure for not notifying the commission about its transposition, with a potential follow-up procedure about whether or not that transposition was not done correctly.

“Infringement procedure 2012/0388 concerned the failure of the Netherlands to notify transposition measures for all provisions of Directive 2010/31/EU,” commission spokesperson Anna-Kaisa Itkonen told this website in an emailed response.

“Following the latest amendments of the Dutch legislation (received in November 2015), the commission has concluded that the Netherlands have now complied with its transposition and notification requirements,” she added.

But there is a crucial nuance which apparently did not come across to the Dutch authorities.

“The fact that the infringement on full transposition is closed does not mean that the commission gives a blessing to the transposition of this directive in the member state concerned,” Itkonen continued.

“After checking if all the provisions of the directive have been transposed (which is what was decided today [Thursday]), the Commission is now checking if this transposition is correct.”

She added that commission services are holding an “informal dialogue” with the Dutch authorities through the so-called EU Pilot system, which is a sort of pre-infringement procedure.

The system allows the two parties to resolve the issue before starting an actual infringement procedure. After the commission has started the EU Pilot process, the member state has 10 weeks to reply. After that, the commission has ten weeks to assess the reply.

Only if that process is finished will the commission give its blessing for the transposed rules – or start an infringement procedure.

Last year, Dutch real estate agents told EUobserver that the Dutch system for getting an energy label was sensitive to fraud, because there are no independent experts that visit the house involved. The experts only assess digitally-sent proof of efforts to increase energy efficiency, like receipts or photos.

“You could upload photos of your neighbours' double glazing as if they were your own, and no one will visit you to check”, said Hester Jansen, a real estate agent in the northern city of Enkhuizen.

Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recorded a video in support of Croatia's ruling party, which the EU executive said was in her "personal capacity" - and admits it was a "mistake" that this was not made clear.

Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss

The European Parliament is refusing to disclose documents on an internal debate on whether to set up e-cigarette smoking booths at its premises in Strasbourg and Brussels, posing questions on how it handles transparency on relatively minor issues.

EU parliament chairs explain missing lobbyist meetings

MEPs in January 2019 agreed to a rule change in a bid for greater transparency. The rules included requiring committee chairs to publish their meetings with registered lobbyists. EUobserver spoke to six chairs, who haven't done so yet.

News in Brief

  1. Croatia opens for US tourists, defying EU ban
  2. Poll: only 61% of Germans would get Covid-19 vaccine
  3. UK to spend €788m on new UK-EU border control system
  4. Berlin wants first use of EU cyber sanctions on Russia
  5. Erdogan warns neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves
  6. Bulgaria: political crisis amid anti-corruption protests
  7. Pope and Turkish-German leader join Hagia Sophia protest
  8. France and UK create joint migrant intelligence unit

Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recorded a video in support of Croatia's ruling party, which the EU executive said was in her "personal capacity" - and admits it was a "mistake" that this was not made clear.

Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss

The European Parliament is refusing to disclose documents on an internal debate on whether to set up e-cigarette smoking booths at its premises in Strasbourg and Brussels, posing questions on how it handles transparency on relatively minor issues.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Poland's EU-battles to continue as Duda wins tight vote
  2. EU 'in-person' summit plus key data privacy ruling This WEEK
  3. Let's have positive discrimination for EU stagiaires
  4. We need to do more for our small and medium-sized enterprises
  5. Romania's virus surge prompts queues and new worries
  6. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  7. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  8. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us