The 50 years history behind the EBPD EPLABEL Workshop, CSTB, Paris

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					          The 50 years history behind the EBPD
     EPLABEL Workshop, CSTB, Paris 6th December 2006
                     Hubert DAVID

                                                ‘All great truths begin as blasphemies’
                                                                 George Bernard Shaw

In August 1985, the European Commission (then DG Energy) published an internal
discussion document stating that 40% of all energy use in the EU is related to
buildings. In the document, the Commission outlined a number of policy options. This
paper was the first concrete step towards the EBPD.

The unfinished past

The origin of the European Community (now European Union) is based on the
concept of a common and shared supply of energy and other basic economic goods.
The very first European Treaty was the European Coal and Steel Treaty, which came
into force in 1954. Specifically it aims to increase production of coal and steel and to
create a common market for these products. It is unambiguously a concept based on
increasing supply. In 1958, two more Treaties entered into force, the Rome Treaty
(establishing the Common Market) and the EURATOM Treaty for the promotion of
nuclear energy. The latter is again unambiguously a supply side concept and the
management of demand is not subject of the Treaty. It is interesting to realise that the
Common Market Treaty is also partly a supply side agreement; just think about the
Common Agricultural Policy which aims (and managed) to turn a shortage of food
into an over-supply of food.
All should be seen in its historical context: in the 50’s: the post-war Europe was an
economy of scarcity and energy scarcity was a reality.

Later, the 3 Treaties were merged into the Treaty of the European Community (which
later again evolved into the European Union) and in that process, a Directorate-
General Energy was created. Crucially important is that decisions on energy in the
merged Treaties still require unanimity in the Council of Ministers (the supreme
power centre of the Community) .That new DG Energy was manned by officials from
the Coal Treaty and from the EURATOM Treaty. Both groups of officials are firmly
from the school of energy supply management, not of energy demand management.
The paradigm of ever increasing energy supply was not questioned.

In 1973, the United Kingdom, Eire and Denmark became a member state of the
European Community. Denmark immediately questioned that paradigm; in fact,
Denmark had and still has an energy policy with an emphasis on the management of
demand. Add that Eire is strongly anti-nuclear in general while at that very moment
several other member states are in the middle of a massive investment program in
nuclear electricity. In brief: there is no unanimity any more on the European energy
policy. And no unanimity means no possibility for a new direction.

In 1988, Denmark would be the President of the Council of Ministers for the first
time. In the long preparation period for that first Presidency, Denmark asked the
European Commission to explore the possibilities for demand-side based European
energy policies in the Community. The first document the Commission produced was
that August 1985 paper (mentioned at the beginning). The document became a formal
consultation paper in September 1986 and in 1987 a Proposal for a Directive on an
EU system for energy audits of buildings {COM (87) 401 final}. But - as expected-
the large majority of the Council of Ministers was not interested. Nevertheless, the
Commission was encouraged that there was some limited support and therefore the
Commission proposed on May 12th 1989 the so-called SAVE Directive. SAVE stands
for Specific Actions for Vigorous Energy Efficiency. This proposal for a SAVE
Directive was no longer based on the energy policy of the Community but was based
instead on the (new) environment policy of the Community. In this proposal for a
SAVE Directive, the Commission proposed 13 specific actions, 10 of which directly
related to the building sector. The Council of Ministers did not reject it straight away
but un-dressed the proposal to a Directive (93/76/EC) not containing any commitment
of result. In practice, the SAVE Directive is more a kind of declaration of intent rather
than binding legislation. Six measures were kept:
           - energy certification of buildings
           - separate billing for heating, hot water and airco based on the real
           - third party financing for energy savings in the public sector
           - the need for thermal insulation of buildings
           - inspection of boilers
           - energy audits in big industrial installations.

Because it is more a declaration of intent rather than a Directive, little was done in
practice. Yet, this SAVE Directive is very important. The first reason is that in 1993
the precedent has been created that the Community has to undertake a policy related
to the energy use of buildings. The second and most important reason is that the (by
then new) environment policy of the Community (in particular articles 130a and 235)
can be used for that purpose. In simple language: the SAVE Directive is an
environment Directive not an energy Directive.

The environment policy

In 1987 the Single European Act (SEA) came into force; it is a further evolution of
the Treaties. In that SEA, environmental policy became a policy aim in its own right
and no longer a ‘by-product’ of the common market. Furthermore, the SEA stipulates
that decisions in the Council of Ministers about environmental matters are taken by
qualified majority (bigger member states have more votes, smaller ones have less
votes; a qualified majority is roughly a 2/3 majority in favour of the Commission’s
proposal). European energy policy under the SEA remained subject to unanimity in
the Council of Ministers, and still is as of to-day.

The next step in the institutional journey is the Amsterdam Treaty which came into
force on 1st May 1989. It confirms the environmental policy aims of the Community
but above all, it stipulates that environmental considerations must be integrated in
other policy areas. By that proviso, the SAVE Directive could be adopted (be it in a
slimmed down version) and the precedent was created.

Meanwhile, a discussion had started about global warming and about the need to
control it. In December 1997, the European Union made a unilateral commitment to
reduce CO2 emissions with 5% by 2010 (compared with 1990). At the Kyoto meeting
later, the European Union sharpened its commitment to 8%. The EU became the
world leader in global warming politics and still is. Therefore, the EU must do
everything it can to support and underpin its leadership position.
In that context, the Commission adopted an Action Plan to improve energy efficiency
in 2000 (the Commission will do so later again in 2006). This 2000 Action plan
(COM (2000/0247 final) called for a 20% reduction of energy use by 2020; the slogan
’20 by 2020’ was born. A year later, on 11th May 2001 the Commission proposed to
‘adopt to technical progress’ the SAVE Directive from 1993 by giving it a bit more
teeth. This proposal was COM (2801) 226 final which eventually became the EBPD
Directive 2002/91/EC on 16th December 2002.

To-day and to-morrow

The EBPD entered into force on 4th January 2006. Member States can delay the entry
into force of the articles 7, 8 and 9 until 2009 when they can justify a lack of experts.
In any case, member states must give all relevant information to the European
Commission (meanwhile, the former DG Energy became the DG Transport and

To-day, the implementation by member states is the weak point. On October 12th last,
the European Commission has send a Reasoned Opinion to Austria, Belgium, the
Czech Republic, Finland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, the Slovak Republic, Spain
and the United Kingdom for failure to give the necessary information to the
Commission on the implementation of the EBPD. This Reasoned Opinion is the last
step before a formal court case in the European Court of Justice.
It is well known that the Commission prepares a similar step against 15 other member
states. In fact, it is rumoured in Brussels that only one member state properly and
fully implements the EBPD at this moment!

The ever increasing interest for environmental problems and the growing concern
about energy security prompted the European Commission to come – for the second
time- with an energy efficiency action plan (EEAP); it was published on 19th October
last {COM (2006) 545 final}. The intention of the action plan is to mobilise the
general public and policy-makers at all levels of government, together with the market
actors. Its aim is to realise energy savings of 20% by 2020 (compared with business as
usual). The EEAP lists 10 priority areas (buildings being one of the ten) and contains
a list of over 75 possible actions. There is no hierarchy of urgency between the
various actions.

For the EBPD, the EEAP underlines the need to implement the EBPD fully and
properly. Furthermore, it lists following envisaged actions, all for 2009:
         - propose lowering significantly the threshold for minimum performance
             requirements for major renovations
         -   propose an expanded role for the public sector to demonstrate new
             technologies and methods
         -   propose minimum performance requirements (kWh/m²) for new and
             renovated buildings
         -   propose measures for member states to provide financing for highly cost-
             effective investments
         -   consider (at the end of 2008) binding requirements to install passive
             heating and cooling.

It is crucially important to realise that this EEAP is a commitment of effort by the
Commission and it is not a commitment of result by that same European Commission.
Furthermore, the Commission can propose but it is the Council of Ministers holding
the power to decide. And so it happened again –just as in 1993- that the Council was a
lot less ambitious, November 23rd last. The only text the Council was willing to adopt
is ‘Continue the implementation of the Buildings Directive, and on the basis of
experience gained from its application, utilise and develop the framework provided by
the Directive to realise the potential for further energy savings from buildings..
Finally, the Energy Services Directive (2006/32/EC) entered into force on April 25th
last. This ESD stipulates that member states shall adopt and aim to achieve an overall
national indicative energy savings target of 9% by 2015, together with intermediate
national indicative targets. Member states have to report yearly on the progress of
implementing the ESD and the policy measures taken for the implementation. It might
well be that this yearly reporting becomes a major driving force for improving energy
efficiency in buildings and indeed for the improvement of the EBPD when and if the
Commission will have published its proposals for improvements in 2009, as
mentioned in the EEAP.
The ESD also repeals the SAVE Directive of 1993, the ‘mother’ of all. Sic transit
gloria mundi!

27th November 2006

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