Brussels, 23 January 2008
The European Commission has made a first assessment of National Energy Efficiency Action Plans (NEEAP), which Member States were required to submit by 30 June 2007. The Plans present national strategies on how Member States intend to achieve their adopted energy savings target by 2016. Although the Action Plans provide some encouragement, there appears to be a gap between the political commitment to energy efficiency and the proposals aimed at facing up to these challenges.
The Plans essentially represent a practical demonstration of the commitment of Member States to energy efficiency. Equally important, they provide a means for sharing of best practices among Member States, and the various players in energy efficiency, as well as for developing synergies among the strategies and measures adopted.
Among the 17 National Energy Efficiency Action Plans reviewed by the Commission, several present comprehensive strategies that are likely to deliver important savings. While most seem to present a business-as-usual approach, some are more progressive, but without a clear definition as to what the new measures will be and how they will be implemented.
The Energy Services Directive, which requires Member States to submit National Energy Efficiency Action Plans, should realise part of the EU's energy efficiency potential and make important contributions to the security of energy supply, competitiveness and sustainable development. Numerous new business areas, including new energy services, energy auditing, smart metering, more informative billing and a range of financial instruments and subsidy schemes should emerge as a result of the Directive, benefiting households and businesses alike. Both households and businesses should get easier access to subsidy schemes – for example, in the form of rebates to buy energy efficient appliances, or to insulate homes, or for retrofitting lighting systems – and information to encourage efficiency improvements, and investments in energy efficient technologies, while energy services should become more widely available at more affordable prices. Delivering energy savings and reducing the demand for energy will also reduce the overall burden in absolute terms of the actual targets for renewable energy that each Member State will be asked to commit to in the proposed Directive on renewable energy. Implementation will require a multitude of actors to cooperate and work together, both in the public and private sectors.
Energy efficiency is a proven, cost-effective resource for the European Community. It is one of the cheapest ways of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to sustainability and security of supply. It supports economic development and creates jobs, and it also reduces energy costs providing lower energy bills for households and businesses alike. The relevance of effective strategies to improve energy efficiency to the EU's integrated climate and energy policy cannot be overstated. Considerable improvements in energy efficiency have already been made but a large untapped potential still remains to be realised. For its part, the Commission will facilitate mutual support in the implementation of the action plans, and introduce a number of new initiatives, notably on eco-design, buildings and combined heat and power, aimed at strengthening the EU framework for energy efficiency in the various end-use sectors.
 Directive 2006/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on the energy end-use efficiency and energy services, Official Journal L114, 27/04/2006 P. 0064-0084