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Energy efficiency policy in an enlarged European Union: the Eastern perspective

Diana Ürge-Vorsatz and Gergana Miladinova, Central European University


energy policy, economic transition, EU enlargement, national and local energy policy-making, policy integration


In May 2004 eight former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe joined the European Union (EU), ending the era of economic transition. During the accession process their energy sectors had to undergo fundamental reforms and restructuring, and after having to adopt European legislation, the main framework of their energy policies now should be up to speed with those of the EU-15.

However, the legal harmonization process was entirely one-way. How well do the present EU energy efficiency policies cater to the needs of the new member states? What is the end result of the transition and accession process in this field? What has the ambitious restructuring schedule delivered in these countries from the perspective of energy efficiency? Where are these countries in terms of energy efficiency policies today, compared to the old member states? How should EU energy and environmental policies change or be strengthened to accommodate the different settings in the accession countries?

These questions were answered as a part of a study commissioned by the European Parliament and completed by the Central European University. The paper will portray the development of energy intensity during the accession process, and catalogue the policies in place today influencing the efficiency of energy use. The paper then provides recommendations on how the efficiency of energy consumption could be promoted further, and what EU-level policies could be introduced to facilitate these changes. Among other suggestions, the paper points to the importance of policy integration and the decentralisation of policy implementation to the municipal level.


Download this paper as pdf: 1280Urge_Vorsatz.fm.pdf