The European Commission signalled yesterday (5 January) that it would press member states hard to deliver “concrete steps” towards the EU’s goal of a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020.

José Manuel Barroso, the Commission president, said “the member states have agreed on the 20% target [for energy efficiency] but so far they’re not delivering, and the way that the process is being pursued is far from perfect”.

The EU’s 2020 targets are for a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20% increase in the proportion of renewables in the energy supply, a minimum use of 10% biofuels and a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, all compared with 1990 levels.

However, the energy efficiency target is the only one of these that is not binding. On 15 December 2010, the European Parliament passed a motion demanding that it be made so.

Barroso declined to say whether he supported such a move but conceded that, unlike the binding renewables and emission reduction targets, “there was no specification of the concrete steps so probably this is one of the reasons why we are not going so fast in energy efficiency”.

Last month, Marie Donnelly, director at the European Commission’s DG Energy, told EurActiv that energy efficiency grants from a reallocated fund worth eight billion euros were still going unclaimed.

So far, she estimated, the EU had only achieved energy consumption reductions of “somewhere between nine and 11%”.

But Barroso insisted that all the EU’s targets were still realistic.

“That’s why I’m going to discuss with member states how we can now do things which reach the 20% target by 2020 on energy efficiency,” he said, “because the potential for savings in energy in transport and households, buildings and industry are really there”.

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