The middle of the legislative term usually comes with a heavy schedule for policy makers, but the current energy calendar promises to bring more than its fair share of tough negotiations. Reaching a compromise on how to steer member states towards a 20% energy efficiency target by 2020, building the base for a mechanism to distribute 9.1 billion public funds for trans-European infrastructure projects, and the first discussions on the 2050 low carbon energy road map are the main points on the agenda.


National efficiency measures adopted so far are not sufficient to meet the agreed 20% savings target, therefore more comprehensive EU-level coordination is required, reads the Commission's impact assessment accompanying the draft Energy Efficiency Directive (COM(2011)370). The proposal's strongest point is the 1.5% savings obligation (Article 6) that energy companies have to perform through their annual sales by offering efficient services that eventually reduce their customers' end consumption. As this obligation does not directly burden member states' budgets, Council agreement seems to be secured. Article 4, with the requirement to refurbish 3% of the total floor area of public buildings every year, is subject to more serious debate. Several member states asked to weaken or delete the passage, citing financial difficulties at a time of economic crisis. A compromise drafted by the Polish Presidency already lifted the threshold of affected buildings to only those with a floor area larger than 500 m2 - double the original figure. A third major element is a call to develop high efficiency co-generation and district heating and cooling (CHP-DHC), methods favoured by Danish industry, but not enjoying widespread support in Europe (Article 10).

At the 24 November Council meeting, Martin Lidegaard, Denmark's minister for climate, energy and buildings, stressed the draft directive's priority status in the Presidency programme, but seemed open to compromise. "It's essential for Denmark that we maintain the level of ambition so that we close the gap towards the 20% savings by 2020. Within that framework, however, we are flexible when it comes to the actual architecture of the proposal. Denmark agrees that the public sector must take the lead. [...] However, it should be more flexible in alternatives which ensure objectives similar to what the Commission set out, but in the most cost-efficient fashion," he said.


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