Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger held a press conference on July 23rd to present the European Commission Communication on Energy Efficiency, which sets a non-binding 2030 energy savings target of 30 %.

The Communication on Energy Efficiency is the last building block in the 2030 climate package. The 30% energy efficiency target is 10% less than proposed in the initial Policy Framework document in February 2014. REHVA published a position paper in March 2014 demanding binding energy targets with specific targets for the building sector. Obviously the European Commission’s ambitions on energy efficiency have dropped even more since then. Following the announcement, stakeholder organisations, industry representatives, NGOs as well as MEPs strongly criticised the decision of the Commission.

Journalists asked in the press conference why the Commission did not opt for a more ambitious target. The Commissioner pointed out that efficiency requires renovations of buildings or homes, as well as investments in innovation for utilities or products. “The 30% target has a decent chance to get support in the European Council,” Oettinger said, suggesting that a higher target would likely be refused by the member states. EURACTIVE reports that ahead of the European Commission's announcement, France’s energy minister was reported to support the 30% figure as a compromise, together with Germany.

The Commission released jointly with the Communication also the assessment on the EU’s 2020 targets showing that the EU will fail to reach its goals on saving energy and improving energy efficiency, because of inefficient level of implementation in the member states. The EU currently forecast to achieve energy savings of 18-19%. Therefore an ambitious and binding energy efficiency target set by the European Commission against its member states’ interest would be a key for achieving energy savings, and for Europe’s energy security and independency from Russia. 

Energy Efficiency in buildings will hopefully feature high on the political agenda for the next Commission. President-elect Juncker has at least expressed strong support in his Political Guidelines for the next European Commission stating that “I would like to significantly enhance energy efficiency beyond the 2020 objective, notably when it comes to buildings”.

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