States drag feet on EU buildings energy law

Only ten of the EU's 25 member states met a 4 January deadline to transpose into national law and to start respecting the 2003 energy performance of buildings directive, Environment Daily has learned.

The directive is a cornerstone of European efforts to combat climate change. A European commission official told Environment Daily that the EU executive would begin infringement proceedings as early as the end of this month against governments that do not notify the commission of their transposition measures.

Even among the minority of countries that have transposed the directive, several have indicated an intention to delay implementing key elements by up to three years, Environment Daily understands. These include the central requirement to issue energy performance certificates for buildings above a minimum size.

The only countries to have reported full or partial transposition are Germany, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Denmark, Lithuania, Belgium, Latvia, Poland and the Slovak republic.

European insulation manufacturers' association Eurima welcomed the directive's entry into force and regretted that many member states were "struggling" to put it into practice. "There is still a huge opportunity being missed", said Eurima president Jan van Brummen.

Eurima also repeated longstanding demands for the directive's scope to be widened to cover smaller buildings below 1,000 square metres. An extended directive "could save the EU ¬8bn a year by 2010, rising to ¬14.5bn by 2015 while creating up to 530,000 new jobs", said director general Horst Biedermann.

In fact the European commission is currently consulting on just such an expansion. It will make proposals in an energy efficiency action plan due in mid-2006, an official told Environment Daily.

Meanwhile, there is still uncertainty over whether the Netherlands will implement all aspects of the directive. Last autumn it sent shockwaves by stating that the law's energy certification requirements were too expensive.

Republished with permission of Environment Daily



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