Many Europeans have not yet recognised to full extent the importance of energy efficiency. However, together with renewable energy sources, energy efficiency is addressing three key policy topics at a time: climate protection, energy security and technology leadership opportunities for European industry.
Knowledge, innovation and sustainability are core elements of the European strategy for the 21st century. In this respect, the EU is determined to build a resource-efficient Europe with the increased use of renewable energy sources, a modernized transport sector, energy-efficient buildings and products and also green technologies.
The EU has already formulated its goal to become "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world" in the Lisbon strategy. Given that each year additional energy savings of around two per cent compared to the baseline projections would yield net economic benefits in the EU, harnessing this potential would be a big boost to the EU competitiveness. In the document "Europe 2020: A European Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth", the European Commission has assigned an explicit role to a sustainable energy sector. The Commission estimates that reaching the 20% target for renewable energy would create approximately 600,000 new jobs and together with a 20% target on energy efficiency over 1 million new jobs.
However, implementing these political goals requires adequate and ambitious legal frameworks. Their implementation and impact is examined under the Energy-Efficiency-Watch-2-Project (EEW2) which is a follow-up project of the Energy-Efficiency-Watch-Project.
Following the Energy Services Directive, the Member States are obliged to deliver the National Energy Efficiency Action Plans (NEEAPs) to the European Commission in 2007, 2011 and 2014. Though many of the first NEEAPs in 2007 were quite progresssive, there is a huge lack of energy efficiency measures implementation on the national level.
The first Energy-Efficiency-Watch project (EEW, 2007-2010) revealed an impressive scope of new measures in energy efficiency policy as drafted in the first round of National Energy Efficiency Action Plans (NEEAPs). It was a first step towards coherent energy efficiency policy packages in EU Member States. However, the NEEAPs of that period were very heterogenous in their content and ambitions. The Energy Services Directive itself has some obvious structural flaws such as missing common methodology for calculation or a reporting template, and a lack of an ambitious energy savings target. The second Energy-Efficiency-Watch project (EEW2, 2010 - 2013) consulted a broad variety of national experts on national energy efficiency policies and also screed national legislation. Based on this, 28 country reports provided a good overview of the national energy efficiency policies.