General Targets

An EU Directive seeks to achieve the Union’s energy efficiency target of 20% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels and to pave the way for further energy efficiency improvements beyond that date. It includes a requirement for all Member States to set indicative national energy efficiency targets for 2020.

The Directive promotes energy efficiency across the Union through a common framework of measures. They cover every stage of the energy chain, from the transformation of energy and its distribution to its final consumption.

Member States have until mid-2014 to bring most of the Directive’s provisions into national law. They must notably establish indicative national energy efficiency targets by 30 April 2013. Due for review by the European Commission in June 2014, these targets should be calculated with reference to so-called primary or final energy limits already set for the Union in 2020.

Each Member State must also establish an energy efficiency obligation scheme or equivalent options. The aim is to ensure that energy providers achieve a cumulative end-use 1.5% energy savings target by the end of 2020. These savings will only be counted if they are truly new and additional for final consumers, in each year from 1 January 2014 to the end of 2020.

The Directive calls on public bodies at all levels to play an ‘exemplary role’ in energy efficiency, since they have great potential to stimulate market transformation towards more efficient products, buildings and services. Each Member State must, therefore, ensure that 3% of the total floor space of heated and/or cooled buildings owned by their central government is renovated each year, taking into account existing obligations in Directive 2010/31/EU.

The Member States must establish a long-term strategy for funding the renovation of public and private buildings. They also must assess in depth the energy savings that could be realised from the use of high-efficiency cogeneration and efficient district heating and cooling.

Further provisions in the Directive cover help everything from energy audits and metering to consumer billing and help for SMEs.

The Directive contributes to EU efforts to reduce its dependence on energy imports and scarce energy resources, whilst addressing climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in a cost-effective way. It also accelerates the spread of innovative technological solutions and improves the Union industry’s competitiveness. This will boost economic growth and create high-quality jobs, in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy.


The EU has adopted a framework for energy end-use efficiency and energy services.  It includes

  • indicative energy-saving targets for states,
  • obligations for national public authorities regarding savings and energy-efficient procurement and
  • measures to promote energy efficiency and energy services.

The directive applies to the distribution and sale of retail energy and provides measures to improve end-use energy efficiency.  It does not apply to activities included in the greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme.

The directive targets the retail sale, supply, and distribution of extensive grid-based energy carriers such as electricity and natural gas as well as district heating, heating oil, coal, forestry and agricultural energy products and transport fuel.

States must ensure that the public sector adopts measures to improve energy-efficiency and inform the public and business of measures adopted and promote the exchange of good practice.  This includes

  • the use of financial instruments for energy saving such as third-party financing contracts and energy performance contracts;
  • the purchase of energy-efficient equipment and vehicles;
  • the purchase of low-energy products.

States must appoint one or more new or existing organizations to carry out administrative management and implementation duties to meet their obligations.

Operators Obligations

States must ensure that energy distributors, distribution system operators and retail businesses that sell electricity, gas, heating oil and district heating;

  • refrain from any activity which could hamper the supply of energy services, programmes to improve energy efficiency and other measures aimed at improving general energy efficiency;
  • supply information to final customers to develop and implement programs to improve energy efficiency;
  • at the discretion of states possibly using voluntary arrangements or other market-based measures to offer and promote energy services to their  customers and
  • offer and promote energy audits and/or measures to improve energy-efficiency or contribute to the financial instruments for improving energy-efficiency.

States must ensure market operators are provided with transparent information on programs and measures to improve energy-efficiency.

National legislation must be amended which disproportionately impedes or restricts the use of instruments or measures for making energy savings on the energy market.

States must develop high-quality energy auditing systems for customers aimed at determining measures to be taken to improve energy-efficiency of energy services.

States must ensure that end users are provided with competitively priced individual metering and informative billing that shows actual energy consumption.  It should include information such as current actual prices and consumption, comparison of consumption or consumption for the previous year, contact details of bodies from which information on improving energy-efficiency can be obtained.

Individual meters must be installed at a competitive price where technically and economically feasible.


The directive on eco-design establishes eco-design requirements for energy-related products.  It does not apply to vehicles. Eco-design parameters relate to different phases of the product lifecycle including

  • selection of raw materials,
  • manufacturing,
  • packaging, transport and distribution,
  • installation and maintenance,
  • use,
  • end-of-life.

For each phase, the following aspects of the product must be assessed:-

  • predictive consumption of materials and energy;
  • anticipated emission to the environment;
  • anticipated pollution;
  • anticipated waste generation;
  • possibility for reuse, recycling, and recovery of materials or of energy.

Products covered by the implementing measures must bear the CE marking before being placed on the market.  Market surveillance is to be carried out by competent parties that deal with verifying product compliance.  They can require the parties concerned to furnish necessary information and take samples in order to verify compliance.

A compliant product which complies with eco-design products must not be hindered from being placed on the market.  A product which does not comply with eco-design requirements must be prohibited from being placed on the market.  The EU Commission must be informed if this is done.

All products must undergo a conformity assessment concerning eco-design requirements before being placed on the market.  Once products have been placed on the market, the manufacturer or representative must keep all documents relating to conformity assessment issues in order to facilitate inspections that are likely to take place in 10 years following manufacture. Products bearing the community eco-label are presumed to comply with the requirements.

If harmonized standards are not satisfied the states concerned or the Commission must inform the standing committee under the directive.  It must then give its opinion.

The Commission may assist small or medium-sized business in integrating environmental aspects including energy-efficiency when designing their products.

Manufacturers must be able to provide consumers with information on the role that they play in the sustainable use of the product concerned.


The directive establishes standard rules on rolling out the EU’s alternative fuels* infrastructure (i.e. electric car recharging stations or natural gas refuelling points) in the different EU countries.

It lays down minimum requirements for building up this infrastructure, to be implemented as part of every EU country’s national policy framework.

EU countries must adopt national policies that aim to develop the market for alternative transport fuels and the infrastructure to support them. In drawing up these policies, EU countries must:

  • make an assessment of the current state of the market and prospects for future development;
  • set national targets for deploying the infrastructure and the measures necessary to meet them;
  • designate networks for this infrastructure.

Countries must provide the following, by the following dates.

  • 2020 — sufficient recharging stations to allow electric cars to travel around densely populated areas within the network the country has determined.
  • 2025 (end) — sufficient recharging stations for hydrogen (for any country that decides to include hydrogen in its national policy framework).
  • 2025 (end) — sufficient liquefied natural gas (LNG) stations at seaports, to accommodate LNG-powered ships.

EU countries are required to submit a progress report to the European Commission on the implementation of their national frameworks by 2019, and every 3 years after that.

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