Content updated 13 March 2023.

The recast Energy Efficiency Directive

In July 2021, a revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) was proposed, setting a more ambitious binding annual target for reducing energy use at EU level. The European Parliament and the European Council have agreed on a target for 2030 of 11.7% reduction in energy use compared with the energy consumption forecasts for 2030 made in 2020.

The text below will be updated according to the approved proposal.

The revision of the EED presents a unique opportunity to deliver energy savings bringing benefits such as greenhouse gas emissions reductions, job creation, lower energy bills, reduced air pollution and improved health. View about the current Energy Efficiency Directive here.

The energy efficiency target

As a part of the Fit for 55 package, the Commission reviewed the Energy Efficiency Directive, to meet the emissions reduction target of at least net 55% by 2050.

The European Commission tabled a revision of the energy efficiency directive in 2021, introducing new targets to reduce primary (39%) and final (36%) energy consumption by 2030, to become legally binding. The current target – of 32.5% overall by 2030 – is non-binding, and the EU has been criticised as being too soft on enforcement.

In 2022, as part of its REPowerEU plan, the Commission amended its own EED proposal included in the Fit for 55 Package and suggested increasing the 2030 energy efficiency target from the original 9% it had proposed in July 2021 to 13%, both for final and primary energy consumption, compared to projections made with the PRIMES 2020 reference scenario .

The proposal introduces an EU binding energy efficiency target for 2030 of at least 45% compared to the EU Reference Scenario 2007 or of at least 20% compared to the EU Reference Scenario 2020 to help the EU fulfil its commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The Directive will guide how national contributions are established and almost double the annual energy saving obligation for Member States.

Energy efficiency first principle

Article 3 of the proposal sets an obligation for EU countries to ensure that energy efficiency solutions are considered in energy system and non-energy sectors planning, policy and investment decisions.

The Energy Efficiency First Principle (link to eceee page on Energy Efficiency first) needs to be embedded in legislation to be effectively implemented. Article 3 of the proposal embeds a practical approach to implementing the energy efficiency first principle at the national level. This would require consideration in planning, policy, and investment decisions relating to energy systems, including non-energy sectors that have an impact on energy consumption and energy efficiency.

In the Commission’s Recommendation on ‘Energy Efficiency First’, energy communities and local authorities have been acknowledged as a way to apply the energy efficiency first principle at the local level.

The Parliament position increases the reliability of the application of the principle by clarifying that energy efficiency solutions also include demand-side resources and system flexibilities. The principle should also be assessed not only in the planning but also in the design of policy and major investment decisions.

The European Council proposed to increase the amount of investment for projects that would be covered by the Principle, from 50 to 150 million euros, and from 75 to 250 million euros for transport infrastructure projects.

Public buildings

Article 5 applies to a small portion of the building stock and the proposed new Article 6 suggests an increase in the annual renovation rates to 3% of the public buildings over 250 m2, to at least nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB). 

To ensure greater effectiveness, the proposed obligation to renovate public buildings is be extended to regional and local levels to include all public buildings, prioritising worst-performing ones and those serving the public’s interest such as schools and hospitals.

Public sector target

The proposed Article 8 increases the exemplary role from the public sector to an annual reduction of 1.7% of public sector energy consumptions andthe annual energy savings obligation for Member States for the period between 2024 and 2030 is currently 0.8%.

Public procurement

The proposed Article 7 (ex-Article 5) amends procurement rules to promote energy efficiency. It would also enhance the capability of managing authorities to embed political objectives into their procurement procedures.

Referring to the trialogue discussions, the European Parliament’s position would create an obligation for the European Commission to support Member States in the implementation of Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria in their public procurement decisions.

Energy efficiency obligations, EEOs, Article 8

The proposed Article 8 strengthens the annual national energy saving obligations (e.g white certificates) to 1,5% and excludes savings from direct fossil fuels combustion.

Article 8 also states that Member States must consider and promote Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Citizen Energy Communities (CECs ) in designing alternative policy measures. This would allow energy communities to take on a more systemic approach to energy savings and renovation actions, so they can contribute to information, technical advice and support, and awareness-raising for households.

Examples of goals of the Citizen Energy Communities include using revenues from renewables production to fund energy savings measures, education and awareness raising, supporting sustainable building renovation, energy solidarity and addressing energy poverty.

Heating and cooling (H&C)

Article 14 of the proposal includes an update of the definition of energy efficient district heating and cooling to promote RES, and introduce local heating and cooling plans for municipalities (over 50.000). Member States are encouraged to ensure that local authorities prepare for plans to ensure that new and refurbished District heating and cooling systems do not increase the use of fossil fuels (including fossil gas). The shares of renewable energy for the definitions of efficient district heating and cooling should also reflect the need to have a 100% renewables based energy system by 2040.

Energy services

The proposed Article 18 encourages the energy services market to deliver savings over time.

A BPIE report from August 2020 highlights that EU countries that went beyond the article’s minimum requirements have a more developed energy services market in place.

Energy management solutions are considered to be important tools to maintain and increase energy performance over time and may help local authorities to perform better and thus finance renovation works to public buildings.

Energy poverty and consumers

Article 21 and 22 of the European Commission’s proposal focus on consumer empowerment and information and acknowledges the opportunity to recognise the role of energy communities in reaching out to citizens and providing support to undertake energy savings measures.

In Article 22 of the Commission’s proposal, energy communities are implicitly identified as a way to prioritise energy efficiency measures towards those exposed to energy poverty, and vulnerable consumers.

According to the proposal, energy efficiency programmes and financial incentives should prioritise support for low-income citizens to deliver, together with energy savings, high positive social impacts.