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Impact of the Energy Union on Residential Energy Efficiency in CEE

With the Europe 2020 Strategy, as well as ones that followed (2030 Energy Strategy and 2050 Energy Strategy), the European Union aims to address global energy challenges and achieve sustainable growth through an unprecedented collective action – the Energy Union. By adopting this plan the EU seeks to promote energy security, renewable energy production, and higher energy efficiency. This initiative is of central relevance to the residential energy sector in Europe.

Earlier EU initiatives to improve energy efficiency of existing housing stock and to establish energy efficiency standards for construction of new buildings (e.g. Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and Energy Efficiency Directive) are now being revised within the framework of the Energy Union, with new overarching legislation to follow.

A report conducted by Central European University assesses how this new initiative of the European Commission will affect residential energy efficiency countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

What is the Energy Union?

On February 25th, 2015 the European Union took a historic step forward in its endeavor to enhance energy security in the region. The EU Directorate General for Energy launched The Energy Union, a strategic framework designed to benefit the EU in five key dimensions:

The document sets out fifteen action points and a roadmap how to achieve the Energy Union. Among other things, the roadmap will have a considerable impact on residential energy use. Thus, energy retail sector will see a phase-out of regulated prices and new measures to protect vulnerable consumers will be introduced. Investments in energy efficiency will be supported more strongly, while a strategy for Heating and Cooling approved by the European Parliament this year will see practical implementation. Reviews of legally binding directives that deal with energy efficiency and energy performance of buildings are to be conducted. In addition, the European Commission will create a comprehensive pool of data on energy issues in the EU in order to make accessible all relevant knowledge that the Commission and Member States have on the matter.

What does the Energy Union mean for countries in Central and Eastern Europe?

All EU Member States are directly affected by the Energy Union.  However, the Strategy will have a considerable impact on the rest of Europe as well. Its principles will be furthered through two partnerships the EU has with its neighbors, namely The Energy Community and the Eastern Partnership (see also previous energy efficiency related initiatives in the EaP countries such as Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P) and Eastern Partnership Technical Assistance Trust Fund (EPTATF)).

The Energy Union will not only impact the EU, but also the Energy Community and the Eastern Partnership countries. There are numerous financial instruments at the European and national levels that can be used by firms and authorities to fund their energy projects.

This article is based on the report ‘Impact of the Energy Union on Residential Energy Efficiency in Central and Eastern Europe’ that was prepared for Habitat for Humanity by D. Paden Chang, Fabian Steuer, and Anastasia Zabusova from the Central European University in Budapest.

 

You can find the whole report here.

Written by Gyorgy Sumeghy, Advocacy Manager, Habitat for Humanity Europe, Middle East and Africa

Habitat III is a United Nations conference on housing and sustainable urban development that took place in Ecuador on 17-21 October 2016. At the end of the conference a comprehensive document called New Urban Agenda was adopted by UN member states. Habitat III has become an historic gathering of 30,000 global delegates (governments, NGOs, academia, urbanists, corporate, housing activists) who discussed the future of cities in light of rapid urbanization. Housing was a key topic of numerous discussions, with multi-stakeholder partnerships appearing as a crucial factor to ensure implementation of the New Urban Agenda. György Sümeghy, Habitat for Humanity EMEA Advocacy Manager, has also spoken on this matter at the conference.

As a part of a huge HFHI delegation to the Habitat III Conference I participated in a panel discussion Triple Win:  People, Public, and Private Partnerships for More Livable Cities and Communities. In this session, practitioners and participants in successful People Public Private Partnerships (PPPPs) diagnosed and presented practical advice on how this approach works by bringing public and private resources into alignment with community priorities through active collaboration among stakeholders. In this framework I was invited to present our project Residential Energy Efficiency for Low Income Households (REELIH) in Eastern Europe.

The presentation was based on HFHI’s and USAIS's experience in Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Armenia. All these countries have an underdeveloped market for residential energy efficiency and a complex tenure structure which often becomes a barrier to effective community decision making and proper building maintenance. There is also lack of awareness among home-owners about the relevance of energy efficiency investments. Therefore, what is really needed in order to improve the situation is, first of all, the empowerment of the local community of home-owners so that they can pro-actively engage in energy efficiency projects. Second, facilitation among home-owners, local government, financing institutions, national government, and construction companies is required to make the “eco-system of stakeholders” work.

We regard our work with USAID's REELIH as a specific example of a PPPP, as through our project we bring together all the stakeholders representing the four different ‘P’s in order to scale up investment in residential energy efficiency in Eastern Europe.

The presentation was well-received and was complemented by interesting case-studies by real estate developers from the United States and Brazil. A lively discussion afterwards was focused on questions like:

-  How important is trust in PPPP's?

- What are the key reasons that PPPP's work?

- Does the size of the project matter?

- What role does the public sector play in setting the stage?

- Are PPPP's "equal partnerships"?

Residential Energy Efficiency for Low-income Households project is one of the many assistance projects supported by the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Since 1992, the American people through USAID have provided a broad range of development programs in Armenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, shifting from an initial humanitarian emphasis to assistance for economic, political and social transition.

György Sümeghy received his MA in English and Hungarian Literature in 1995 in Budapest. He spent ten years in public education and later at a private business college. Based on his management experience in education and volunteerism and interest in social development he joined Habitat for Humanity Hungary as National Director in 2005. Under his leadership, Habitat for Humanity Hungary has become an advocacy led organization where field projects support strong awareness raising and advocacy initiatives to change housing policies in the country. Gyorgy joined HFHI EMEA in 2013 to lead regional advocacy initiatives and support national advocacy programs in the EMEA region. He represents HFHI in Brussels and all over Europe at regional conferences and meetings.

 

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