The ups and downs of EU energy efficiency policy

Sent: Friday, March 16, 2012 5:47 PM
Subject: Last night – efficiency directive and the Commissioner


Many thanks for a lovely dinner last night and please tell XXXXXXXX it was delicious as ever. Our place next time!

I hope you didn’t take my remarks about our Commissioner the wrong way. The dinner and the company made me say more than I should have – or say it badly. If so sorry to have been a bore… But in vino veritas; I do stand by what I said about the energy efficiency unit feeling let down by Oettinger.

It started with his opposition to the 30% emissions target in February last year. Why on earth did he splash such a blatant “heavy industry before climate” message across the Guardian? He knows one of the main reasons we need the new efficiency directive is to make 25-30% CO2 cuts possible. Sometimes I wonder what his agenda really is.

Then there was the choice to go for measures instead of binding energy savings targets in the June directive proposal. OK, I know Member States didn’t (don’t) like targets. But – call me naïve – isn’t it our business to stand up for our own analysis? Why bother with impact assessments if the recommendations are dismissed? It’s not just that we didn’t propose targets – it’s no secret the measures are watered down versions of what we’d assessed were needed. We’ve given in to the Council at every turn. Just look at the energy company obligations in Article 6 and how they were gutted by the opt-out.

What kind of leadership is that? We’ve been left with a weak proposal which we knew would get pulled apart even further by the Council (and believe me that’s just what’s happening in the Working Parties). You’ve got to agree it’s bad tactics to open negotiations by asking for less than you hope to get. Like going to a strip poker session wearing underpants, as Turmes said in Parliament…

In 12 months the only person to have really stuck his neck out on this is Philip. I could have hugged him when he told the Council they can’t say no to targets and measures – and that they’d better make up their minds fast. But if the Commissioner had done his job it wouldn’t have been left to him to say this.

Sorry if I’m sounding angry… but better to be frank I think. As a Commission our credibility is undermined if those at the top don’t back up what our analyses show are needed. Negotiations between the Parliament and the Council are starting soon – and we’re supposed to play the ‘honest broker’. I hope we start doing a better job. So far I can’t help feeling we’ve been very convincing on why Europe needs to save energy, but inexcusably weak on policies to deliver the benefits.

Do what you can about this, will you? And see you at the club tomorrow.


Publisher’s Note

The legislative fight on the draft Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) is entering its most critical stage. On February 28 the EU Parliament’s energy committee voted for ambitious amendments to the Commission’s proposal. Negotiations with the Council should begin before the end of the month. Striking a deal will not be easy: the Parliament is supportive while the Council has taken a more negative position. It will fall to the Danish Presidency to broker a deal between the two parties – with the support of the European Commission, whose business is to get what is best for Europe. But judging by its performance so far, can it really be trusted to do this?

Sometimes it would be interesting to know what DG Energy staff really think about the Directive they have put forward. This ‘email’ – not a real one unfortunately but 100% based on meetings and reports over the past year – gives a taste..

Posted by Brook Riley and Erica Hope

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