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The European Parliament isacalling for the European Commission to establish timetables for the withdrawal from the market of "least energy-efficient" appliances such as patio heaters and inefficient light bulbs. This was one of the main points in an own-initiative report by Fiona Hall (ALDE, UK) on the Commission's Action plan for energy efficiency: Realising the potential', adopted by the Parliament on 31 January. A stiff "one-watt" stand-by performance requirement for electronic equipment should also tackle the increasing consumption of standby' energy1. Hall also calls on both the Commission and EU member states to improve their performance on energy efficiency. The EP also voted to increase the amount of structural and cohesion funding to be spent on improving energy efficiency of existing houses from 3% to a minimum of 5%.

In her report, Hall calls for quick adoption of energy performance standards for key products as already agreed (by the Commission in consultation with industry) for items such as as air conditioning, boilers, and TV set-top boxes. The report also supports a dynamic revision of energy efficiency labelling, picking up on arguments, notably by CECED, the European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers, for the planned 2008 revision of the EU's energy labelling scheme to come up with a dynamic open-ended scale. According to the report, new and renovated buildings should be included in the revision of the Buildings Directive from 2009, rather than keeping an existing threshold of 1,000 square metres. Member states should also plan an increase of high-efficiency cogeneration and the holistic planning of electricity, heating and cooling supply.

The EP voted for the principle of amending state aid rules so that they are more favourable to energy efficiency measures. "Such rules should be simple, practical and transparent, removing barriers to the effective implementation of energy-efficiency measures," notes the report. The EP regrets the complexity of much EU financing for energy efficiency and proposes that micro businesses' be treated like domestic households and offered very simple financing for energy-efficiency improvements such as upfront grants. As regards taxation, the EP wants member states to apply reduced rates of value added tax on labour, materials and components that improve energy efficiency in buildings.


Whilst welcoming much of the Commission's Action plan for energy efficiency', Hall has "grave" concerns about its likely effectiveness. "This action plan is not a stand-alone document," believes Hall, pointing to prior energy efficiency legislation, notably the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2002), the Eco-design Directive (2005) and the Energy End use Efficiency and Energy Services Directive (2006). "For the current action plan to work, previous legislation needs to have been implemented effectively. Nothing could be further from the case," argues Hall. She sees both the Commission and member states as guilty of a "serious dereliction of duty" over the implementation of energy efficiency legislation.

In her explanatory statement, the rapporteur points out that the Commission has failed to hire sufficient staff to ensure full and timely implementation of the Buildings Directive and of the national energy efficiency action plans. "Member states are culpable for failing to grasp the strategic importance of energy efficiency and the need to make it a political priority," adds Hall. Only five out of 27 countries implemented the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive on time. The Commission also has infringement procedures against 12 member states for not respecting a deadline for submitting national energy efficiency action plans.

(1) A television on standby' can use up to 45% of its normal consumption, whilst an unused but plugged-in phone re-charger uses 95% of its normal consumption.
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Publication:Europe Environment
Date:Feb 7, 2008

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