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Brussels, 12 October 2006

Energy Performance of Buildings: European Commission sends Reasoned Opinions to nine Member States

The European Commission sent today reasoned opinions - the last step before a formal complaint to the Court of Justice is lodged - to Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, the Slovak Republic, Spain and the United Kingdom, for failure to notify sufficient national implementing measures requested in the 2002 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive[1]. The aim of the Directive is to reduce energy consumption in buildings by obliging Member States to lay down minimum energy performance standards and apply those for new buildings and for bigger existing buildings. It is thus an important part of EU legislation aimed at improving overall energy efficiency.

The Commission's action is due to insufficient information provided by the Member States in question, following the first letters for failure to notify implementing measures, which the Commission sent in February of this year. The Commission is now examining the information received from five more Member States, which received similar reasoned opinions in June this year. In the absence of satisfactory replies to the reasoned opinions within two months, the Commission may bring these cases before the Court of Justice.

Once Member States have established minimum energy performance standards, these will have to be reflected on energy certificates, which are basically labels for buildings, similar to those on household appliances. However, building certificates are more elaborate, and will for existing buildings be accompanied with advice on how to improve the energy performance as well as information on the investment costs and the likely pay back time on the investment. Furthermore, Member States need to ensure that heating and air conditioning installations are regularly inspected to enable performance improvements.

Member States should have implemented the energy performance of buildings directive by 4 January of this year.

[1] Directive 2002/91/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2002 on the energy performance of buildings, Official Journal L 00 , 04/01/2003 P. 0065 – 0071

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