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:
- Energy security, solidarity and trust
- A fully integrated European energy market
- Energy efficiency contributing to moderation of demand
- Decarbonizing the economy
- Research, innovation and competitiveness
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.