The European Commission adopted two programs which are central to the European climate and energy policy at the beginning of March: These are the "Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050" ("Roadmap") on the one hand and the Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 ("Energy Efficiency Plan") on the other hand.

In the climate-protection roadmap, the Commission describes the path it considers necessary for reaching the European climate goals. According to that, emission reductions within the European borders of 25 percent by 2020, 40 percent by 2030 and 60 percent by 2040 are the economically efficient intermediate goals in order to realize an emission reduction of at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Accordingly, the energy sector is intended to be largely decarbonised by 2050. By offsetting the additional import of emission credits from climate-protection projects outside the European borders, the aforementioned EU-internal emission-reduction goal could decrease the European greenhouse-gas balance by a total of 30 percent by 2020. So far, the EU Member States had only agreed on a reduction by 20 percent below 1990 levels. The further savings are intended to be essentially reached by realizing the energy efficiency plan, which was published simultaneously. Furthermore, the so-called low-carbon technologies are intended to play a key role. However, that term also covers – not uncontroversial – technologies such as carbon capture and storage ("CSS") and nuclear energy.

Savings between 54 and 67 percent are intended in the field of transport. The Energy Roadmap 2050 and the white paper regarding transport (cf. also the corresponding contribution in this issue of the newsletter) are intended to contain detailed plans on how these goals can be reached.

As was elaborated on before, the EU Energy Efficiency Plan, which was also introduced at the beginning of March 2011, is intended to show specific measures by means of which larger energy savings are to be enabled than to date, with a focus being on the fields of buildings and industry. The two aforementioned fields account for approx. 70 percent of the primary energy consumption in the EU. According to the Commission's most recent estimates, the EU will - if it continues in the same way - only reach half of the increase of energy efficiency by 20 percent intended for 2020. In order to prevent this scenario from occurring, the Commission suggests the following measures, among others, in the Energy Efficiency Plan:

  • In order to promote the exemplary role of the public sector, a binding target is proposed to accelerate the refurbishment rate of public buildings. Apart from the proposal of requiring authorities to refurbish at least 3 percent of their buildings per year, energy-efficiency criteria in public purchasing are introduced.
  • The renovation process is also intended to be sped up in private buildings and the energy efficiency of appliances is intended to be increased. For this purpose, the Commission also announces further measures in the field of energy-efficient household appliances and emphasizes the importance of smart meters for consumers in order to optimize their energy consumption.
  • The efficiency of electricity and heat generation is to be increased by introducing more CHP, among other things.
  • Requirements regarding the energy efficiency for industrial equipment, improved information and motivation of SMEs as well as compulsory energy audits of large enterprises constitutes an important share of the catalogue of measures.
  • Finally, in order to develop the market for energy efficiency further as a whole, energy-saving obligations for the energy industry are also invoked.

After the Commission had still announced as part of the energy-efficiency plan that it would carry out an interim assessment of the national efforts at the end of 2013 and decide on that basis whether legally mandatory energy-efficiency goals are not necessary, after all, a first draft of an energy-efficiency directive became known in May this year, according to which the effective date for a corresponding interim assessment has been moved to June 2014. The draft directive is currently still undergoing the Commission's internal coordination process. A final proposal for an energy-efficiency directive is expected for the middle of this year.