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Brussels, 28 February 2008

Energy Performance of Buildings: Commission launches Court proceedings against Belgium and the UK

The European Commission today launched court proceedings against Belgium and the United Kingdom for failure to notify adequate national implementing measures as required by the 2002 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive[1]. The goal of the Directive is to reduce energy consumption in buildings and it thus forms an important part of EU legislation aimed at improving overall energy efficiency.

The Commission already sent both Member States a letter of Formal Notice in February 2006, and a Reasoned Opinion in October 2006, requesting them to notify urgently the transposition measures required by the Directive. However, Belgium and the UK have failed to provide information to demonstrate convincingly that they have fully implemented the necessary measures. In particular, the Commission has not received official notification of measures for the implementation by Belgium of: (i) completely specified energy performance requirements for buildings and for inspection requirements for boilers and air conditioning systems (from the Walloon Region); and (ii) a methodology to calculate the energy performance of non-residential buildings and the complete specification of minimum energy performance requirements for existing buildings which undergo major renovations, (from the Brussels Capital Region); and for the UK of: (i) implementation of the Directive in Gibraltar; and (ii) provisions related to energy performance certificates, and on the inspection of boilers and air conditioning systems in Northern Ireland.

The Directive requires Member States to establish minimum energy performance standards and energy performance certification schemes for buildings, as well as to ensure that heating and air conditioning installations are regularly inspected to enable performance improvements. The deadline for the implementation of the Directive was January 4, 2006 with derogation possible for certain articles until January 4, 2009.
The building sector is responsible for 40% of Europe's total energy consumption. If implemented in full and on time, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive could contribute significantly to reducing energy consumption. The buildings sector has a cost-effective energy saving potential of almost 30%. In March 2007 European Heads of State and Government agreed on an energy package stressing the need to increase energy efficiency in the EU so as to save 20% of the EU's energy consumption by 2020, as proposed in the Commission's Energy Efficiency Action Plan of 2006. Full implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive is undoubtedly one of the most cost-effective means to achieve this goal.

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