EU Policy and Legislation

This section gives an overview of EU policy and legislation pertinent to fuel poverty.

EU Winter Package

This package was launched on 30 November 2016 and is titled Clean Energy for all Europeans. Two of the main aims are to put energy efficiency first, especially in buildings and products, and to provide a fair deal to consumers. The legislative proposals cover energy efficiency, the design of the electricity market and governance rules for the Energy Union. It updates the Energy Efficiency Directive, proposes changes to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and a new way forward for Eco Design.

The Winter Package recognises energy poverty as a major challenge in Europe and through these proposals aims to protect vulnerable consumers through targeted social policy and energy efficiency measures.

The Energy Union

The European Commission adopted the Energy Union Framework Strategy on 25 February, 2015. The Energy Union is described as “secure, sustainable, competitive, affordable energy for every European.”

The Energy Union fundamentally rethinks energy efficiency and treats it as an energy source in its own right, so that it can compete in equal terms with generation capacity. The 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy forms an integral part of the Energy Union and contributes to the transition to a low carbon economy.

2030 Climate and Energy Framework

In 2014, EU countries agreed on a 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy, including EU-wide targets and policy objectives for the period between 2020 and 2030. These targets aim to help the EU achieve a more competitive, secure and sustainable energy system and it meet its long-term 2050 greenhouse gas reductions target. It builds on the 20-20-20 Climate and Energy Package.

Targets for 2030:

  • At least 27% improvement in energy efficiency
  • At least 27% share for renewable energy
  • At least 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels)

EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD) (2010)

The EU adopted the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2010/31/EU (2010) which is now the main legislative instrument to reduce the energy consumption of buildings. This Directive replaced the previous EPBD of 2002.

The 2010 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive are the EU's main legislation when it comes to reducing the energy consumption of buildings.

Under this Directive, Member States must establish and apply minimum energy performance requirements for new and existing buildings, ensure the certification of building energy performance and require the regular inspection of boilers and air conditioning systems in buildings. Moreover, the Directive requires Member States to ensure that by 2021 all new buildings are so-called 'nearly zero-energy buildings'.

As a consequence of the EPBD, in Scotland the Building (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2006 and the guidance documentation came into force in May 2007 and led the way for Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).

Energy Labelling of Products

The EU adopted the Directive 2010/30/EU on energy labels in 2010. Energy labels help consumers choosing products which save energy and thus money. They also provide incentives for the industry to develop and invest in energy efficient product design. This also covers information on Ecodesign. This directive was established in 2009 – establishing a framework for minimum Ecodesign requirements which goods that consume energy must meet before they can be used or sold in the EU.

From 1 January 2018, all local space heaters manufactured for sale in the EU which use electricity, gas or liquid fuels must comply with a minimum efficiency standard. The aim of this legislation is to remove inefficient technologies and reduce the energy used by the products that heat homes, helping to achieve overall carbon reduction targets. This new legislation is known as Lot 20.

Energy Efficiency Directive (2012)

This Directive establishes a common framework of measures for the promotion of energy efficiency within the European Union in order to ensure the achievement of the Union’s 2020 20% headline target on energy efficiency and to pave the way for further energy efficiency improvements beyond that date.

All EU countries are thus required to use energy more efficiently at all stages of the energy chain – from the transformation of energy and its distribution to its final consumption. The Directive helps remove barriers and overcome market failures that impede efficiency in the supply and use of energy and provides for the establishment of indicative national energy efficiency targets for 2020.

20-20-20 Climate and Energy Package

The Climate and Energy package is a set of binding legislation which aims to ensure the EU meets its ambitious climate and energy targets for 2020.

These targets, known as the "20-20-20" targets, set three key objectives for 2020:

  • A 20% improvement in the EU's energy efficiency
  • A 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels
  • Raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20%

The Climate and Energy Package comprises four pieces of complementary legislation which are intended to deliver on the 20-20-20 targets:

Reform of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS); National targets for non-EU        ETS emissions; National renewable energy targets; Carbon capture and storage.

The Climate and Energy Package does not address the energy efficiency target directly. This is being done through the 2011 Energy Efficiency Plan and the Energy Efficiency Directive.

EU Energy Efficiency Plan

The Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 forms part of the EU’s 20% target (aimed at reducing primary energy consumption) and the 2020 Energy Strategy. Its aims are:

  • Promoting an economy that respects the planet’s resources
  • Implementing a low carbon system
  • Improving the EU’s energy independence
  • Strengthening security of energy supply

In order to meet these objectives, the European Commission proposes to act at different levels.  This includes a strand on ‘Making savings for the consumer’.

Energy Roadmap 2050

For the short term, the EU had already put in place legislation to reduce its emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020.  However the European Commission has looked beyond these short-term objectives and set out a cost-effective pathway for achieving much deeper emission cuts by the middle of the century, with its Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050.

The Roadmap suggests that, by 2050, the EU should cut its emissions to 80% below 1990 levels through domestic reductions alone. It sets out milestones which form a cost-effective pathway to this goal - reductions of the order of 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2040.