EU energy ministers reiterated their opposition to binding energy savings targets at a meeting on 24 November, leaving a political agreement for the incoming Danish presidency in the first half of 2012.

Poland, which currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency, presented a progress report on the draft energy efficiency directive at a meeting of the Energy Council this month.

The report included amendments pushed by member states requiring more “flexibility” in achieving the proposed targets.

Most EU member states “are not convinced of the approach and request flexibility to design schemes best suited for their circumstances,” the Polish presidency said, after holding consultations with all national delegations.

Member states were invited to present their positions but no extensive discussion was held at the meeting as views remain far apart. “If there will be a discussion, then it will be at a political level,” Polish presidency sources told EurActiv.

Moves towards a political compromise are expected to start only as of 2012. “We expect the talks with the European Parliament to start during the Danish presidency,” a Polish presidency source said.

The progress report centred around the three targets contained in the draft energy efficiency directive:

  • A national obligation for energy companies to reduce consumption among “final consumers” by 1.5% annually;
  • A 3% refurbishment target for public buildings;
  • Setting up a “national heating and cooling plan” to promote heat and power co-generation as well as renewable energy in heating and cooling.

The first target is considered by experts as the one which “can really make member states take concrete action”.

Dutch reject binding target for energy companies

The flexibility changes sought by member states include replacing the cut-off 1.5% annual savings target with a gradual increase in objectives as well as the possibility to extend the time-period at national level in order to adjust to local circumstances.

But it was also abundantly clear that most do not want “a binding sectoral target,” EurActiv was told. “It is a complex issue, in which all member states have a high interest,” an EU source said.

Germany, backed by The Netherlands, is hostile to the directive’s flagship 1.5% savings target for energy companies. The Hague even proposed a deletion of this particular article, it emerged earlier this month.

Meanwhile, other countries such as Italy, France and Denmark, which already have supplier-side obligations, support the proposed scheme if some changes are introduced.

Pascal Dupuis, head of the climate and energy efficiency department at the French Ministry of Ecology, said France supports the idea “99%”. Speaking at a conference organised earlier this month by EurActiv France, Dupuis claimed the directive includes good ideas but says it is “too prescriptive at times”.

Source: Euractiv