What 750 experts say about the implementation of energy efficiency policies in the EU
A report on the implementation of national energy efficiency policies has now been published by the Energy-Efficiency-Watch project. About 750 experts have been consulted on the implementation of energy efficiency policies since the first National Energy Efficiency Action Plans (NEEAPs) were published in their home country. The report tracks developments in each Member State and provides a good overview of the current status of energy efficiency policies in every Member State.
The survey consisted of a quantitative survey (655 questionnaires completed between March and November 2011) and a qualitative survey (3 experts in each Member State interviewed between April and September 2012). "The survey is unique in its nature because no one has done this kind of analysis before, despite the fact that we are totally unaware of the policies´ implementation. It is crucial to know the implementation reality in EU Member States. Many countries may have well-drafted legislation - however what matters is if it is implemented properly or not. This is why the survey was conducted," added Jan Geiss, EUFORES Secretary General and coordinator of the Energy-Efficiency-Watch project.
Political will and understanding of the benefits are key
One main finding of the survey is, not surprisingly, that political will and understanding of the benefits of energy efficiency are key to success. "Experts are concerned by the fact that energy efficiency has not managed to attract the sufficient attention of the highest political levels" said Christiane Egger from the O.Ö. Energiesparverband, the project leader of the survey. "Especially in times of financial crisis, which in many countries resulted in the reduction of programmes for energy efficiency, it remains a key challenge to prove that energy efficiency is not a burden on public finances but the opposite: a way to save money in public buildings and a significant factor for job creation and tax income."
Levels of ambition differ across the EU
The survey revealed an enormous disparity among Member States in the levels of ambition of their energy efficiency policies. In some Member States, the recognition of the economic, social, political and environmental benefits of energy efficiency drive ambitious legislation and funding programmes whereas others just do the bare minimum required by the European directives (and sometimes not even that).
EU legislation is a key driver
A large number of experts - especially from countries where energy efficiency is currently not a political priority - stressed the crucial role of EU legislation in driving national energy efficiency policies. They mentioned that without EU directives no or nearly no activities would have been carried out in their countries.
Many experts noted that policies are often fragmented, lack focus and stability over time and are not built upon a clear strategy and vision. Many stressed the importance of straightforward requirements and strict follow-up on the implementation. They welcomed the new Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and expressed their hope that the ensuing policy measures will bring the European Union on track in achieving the 20 % energy efficiency target.
Multi-level and good governance
Experts further pointed to the importance of good multi-level governance. In a number of countries, experts see the regional and local level as a main driver of energy efficiency.
Progress in transport is the weakest
A main message from the survey is the complete lack of comprehensive policies on energy efficiency in transport, including the European level. Even though there are some positive examples, including changes in car taxation in a few Member States, experts criticise the absence of political will to act in this sector in most Member States.
Background information on the survey
The survey has been carried out within the framework of the Energy-Efficiency-Watch project which aims to facilitate the implementation of the Energy Services Directive. The project is co-funded by the Intelligent Energy Europe programme and is coordinated by EUFORES.
The survey report is the first in a series of reports from the project. In early 2013, 27 national reports profiling policy developments in each EU Member State will be published.
To download the full report, see the Energy-Efficiency-Watch web site