On 4th October 2011, MEP Claude Turmes (Greens-EFA, Luxemburg) published his draft report on the upcoming energy efficiency directive, with no less than 119 amendments to the European Commission’s original proposal. We covered the shortcomings of the Commission’s proposal last August and it is important to stress that the Turmes report brings about a great deal of what was previously missing: vision, goals and milestones, as well as the means to achieve them.
Binding measures vs. binding targets in the energy efficiency directive: a misleading debate
The dichotomy between binding measures and binding targets, imposed by European Member States to the Commission is abolished by Claude Turmes and that is good news. The debate between binding measures vs. targets was always misleading and little more than an excuse for member states to avoid binding targets, while promoting unambitious measures. Even Philip Lowe, director-general at the Commission’s DG Energy gave up the diplomacy de rigueur during EU negotiations, to publicly confess his annoyance at the Council’s doublespeak on the energy efficiency directive. “So they don’t like binding targets or binding measures, and yet they regard energy efficiency as the most important priority of the European Union. Sorry, but we must stop this”.
Member States try to hijack the proposal
Echoes of the Council’s untenable position have reached the ears of Euractiv journalists again last week. This time the European online newspaper found clear indications that the UK and the Netherlands in particular have decided to lead the Council’s war on energy efficiency at the EU level. The UK attacked the 3% annual renovation rate for public buildings (Article 4), saying that it is likely to promote measures that are not cost effective, while the Netherlands led the charge on the energy savings obligation (Article 6).
Because there is no smoke without fire, the publication of the Council’s progress report on the energy efficiency directive confirms Euractiv’s info and it’s not pretty. All the key provisions of the Commission’s proposal are either wiped out or made optional. A directive is supposed to leave some leeway for Member States to implement specific measures, not to make them altogether optional! It’s like a child telling his parents “I know I must go to school but can you please let me watch TV instead? I promise I will learn as much”.
No clear pattern emerging in the Parliament so far
MEP’s had until November 7th to submit amendments to the Commission’s proposal, and then Turmes will work with the shadow rapporteurs to establish the European Parliament’s position. But it is hard to see a clear pattern, indicating what the EP’s position could be, especially when rumours suggest over 1500 amendments submitted by MEPs. Reaching the Parliament’s position sounds like it will be a headache, even for a smart negotiator like Claude Turmes.