Legislative Framework

The revised Energy Efficiency Directive (EU/2023/1791), officially published in the Official Journal on September 20, 2023, signifies a substantial elevation in the EU's ambitions concerning energy efficiency. This update introduces 'energy efficiency first' as a foundational principle in EU energy policy, granting it legal status for the first time. Essentially, this mandates EU countries to consider energy efficiency in all relevant policy and major investment decisions across both energy and non-energy sectors. This revision follows the Commission's proposal for a recast directive on energy efficiency presented in July 2021 as part of the EU Green Deal package. The 2021 proposal underwent further enhancement within the REPowerEU plan, introduced by the Commission in May 2022, aiming specifically to reduce the EU's reliance on fossil fuel imports from Russia.


As part of the initial Fit for 55 package, the European Commission unveiled a proposal to revise the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) on July 14, 2021 (COM/2021/558 final). Initially adopted in 2012, the EED was designed to aid the EU and its Member States in achieving energy efficiency improvements of at least 20% by 2020. The directive set a ceiling on total EU energy consumption and included provisions to collectively assist Member States in meeting this objective. In 2018, the EED underwent its first revision, increasing the energy efficiency improvement target to 32.5% by 2030, with each Member State mandated to achieve higher annual energy savings obligations (+0.8%).

Aligned with the Green Deal's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2050, the need for accelerated and intensified energy efficiency improvements beyond existing legislation became apparent. This requirement prompted another revision of the EED under the Fit for 55 initiative.

Key measures proposed in Fit for 55 by the Commission

Key measures proposed in Fit for 55 by the Commission

  • The EED recast introduces a higher target for reducing primary energy consumption (39%) and final consumption (36%) by 2030;

  • Stronger promotion of actions to increase energy efficiency in heating & cooling;

  • The annual energy savings obligations  for Member States would be almost doubled for the period of 2024-2030 (+1.5 % compared to the +0.8% in the 2018 revision of the EED);

  • The public sector as a whole would need to reduce annual energy consumption by -1.7 % every year;

  • Member State shall ensure that at least 3% of the floorspace of buildings owned by public bodies shall be renovated each year to at least nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB);

  • More systematic energy efficiency requirements in public procurement procedures;

  •  New requirement on Member States to take measures to implement energy efficiency improvements for people affected by or at risk of energy poverty, vulnerable customers and those living in social housing;

  • Clearer legal basis for applying the 'energy efficiency first' principle (introduced in the 2018 EED) and ensure its practical implementation;

  • Member States would need to monitor and publicly disclose data on the use of energy in data centres.

2030 framework

On 30 November 2016, the European Commission presented a proposal for a revised Energy Efficiency Directive (European Commission's Proposal of 30 November 2016 for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency (COM(2016) 761 final 2016/0376 (COD)), as part of the Winter Energy Package. 

In particular, the European Commission proposed a 30 % binding EU energy efficiency target for 2030, to be achieved by means of indicative national targets. On 17 January 2018, under the EED, Parliament endorsed a binding EU-level target of 35% in energy efficiency improvements. The EED also accelerates the annual energy savings requirements under the article 7 from 0.75 % to 1.22%, which also includes the energy use in transport after 2020, with addition to delivering new energy savings each year. Due to that, the trilogue negotiations started in February 2018 and resulted in a provisional agreement among the EU institutions on 19 June 2018. 

The final text was formally adopted by the European Parliament (on 13 November 2018) and Council (on 4 December 2018). Provisional Agreement published on 17 July 2018 sets:

      1. A headline EU target of at least 32.5 % efficiency improvements by 2030, a non-binding goal to be achieved through indicative national contributions reflecting final and/ or primary energy consumption

      2. energy savings obligations of 0.8 % per annum between 2021 and 2030, to be calculated in terms of final energy consumption. Obligations may include policy measures enacted before 2020 that impact on energy savings in the 2021-2030 period.

More sectors would be covered by energy-savings obligations than under the existing EED, although the EU Member States could still choose to exclude transport, certain industrial activities and some energy use in buildings. 

On 21 December 2018 the Directive (EU) 2018/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 amending Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. It has entered into force three days later.

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