* New text would deliver only 38 percent of Commission
* EU presidency has made energy saving a priority
* Upfront spending major problem in current climate
By Barbara Lewis
SAMSO, Denmark, April 17 Revised plans to
improve the European Union's record on energy saving have
drastically reduced the ambition of a proposed draft law,
according to an assessment by the Commission, the EU's executive
The analysis in a leaked paper, seen by Reuters, confirms
reports from non-governmental organisations that objections from
member states could derail the Commission's efforts to plug the
gap between current performance and the EU's goal of a 20
percent increase in energy saving by 2020.
The European Commission paper concludes the version
presented by the Danish EU presidency on behalf of the 27 member
states would "represent 38 percent of the expected impact of the
Whereas its proposal would have cut primary energy use by
151.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent, the latest plans would
deliver energy saving of only 58.1 million tonnes of oil
Denmark, which has a strong domestic commitment to green
growth and energy saving, has made getting a deal on the Energy
Efficiency Directive a priority for its six months at the helm
of the EU, but has admitted that it is an enormous challenge.
Its Energy Minister Martin Lidegaard told Reuters in an
interview it might not be possible to close all of the gap
between current performance, expected to deliver energy savings
of around 10 percent, compared with projected levels, and the 20
Talks last week to try to thrash out differences between the
EU's three decision-making bodies - the Commission, the member
states and the European Parliament, which had proposed a text
more ambitious than the initial Commission proposal - were
difficult, EU sources said.
Energy and environment ministers meeting informally in
Horsens, Denmark, this week, will be given a progress report on
the Energy Efficiency Directive.
Claude Turmes, Green Member of the European Parliament, who
has led the parliamentary debate said the EU could not afford to
lower its ambitions.
"The EU has a yearly 450 billion euro trade deficit due to
oil and gas imports. The EU energy efficiency directive is the
vehicle to replace large parts of this cash flow out of the EU
economy programme into local jobs and added value," he said.
"We (the European Parliament) will accept flexibility on how
member states should achieve results, but not on the ambition."
Denmark, with the backing of the Commission and
environmental campaigners, has argued energy saving, through
measures such as improved building insulation, is an obvious way
to create jobs, cut bills and carbon emissions and spur the
The Commission has published figures showing improved
efficiency could create around half a million jobs and 34
billion euros ($44.68 billion) in Gross Domestic Product in
It has also put the cost to the energy companies at only one
euro cent for every kilowatt hour of energy saved.
The biggest problem is finding any upfront funding in the
Business leaders have complained about prescriptive measures
and the possible impact on growth, while green campaigners warn
future costs will be much bigger if the EU does not change.
"The report confirms that the council's approach would be a
disaster for Europe, failing to achieve energy savings
commitments and locking us in to wasting billions of euros
annually," Jason Anderson, head of climate and energy policy at
WWF European Policy Office, said.
Changes to the Commission text, which have lowered its
ambition include reducing the number of public buildings that
would have to conform to efficiency requirements and adjustments
to the way efficiency goals would be measured, meaning the
impact would be diluted.
The Commission routinely declines to comment on leaked
($1 = 0.7610 euros)
(Editing by Marguerita Choy)