Energy end-use efficiency and energy services

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A directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services was adopted in December 2005. The directive requires member states to draw up national action plans to achieve 1% yearly energy savings in the retail, supply and distribution of electricity, natural gas, urban heating, and other energy products including transport fuels. The 1% target is only indicative but the national action plans will need approval from the Commission and will be reviewed every three years. The process will be spread over nine years, starting in January 2008.

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Overview

The liberalisation of the EU energy sector started in the nineties with the 1996 directive setting up the internal market for electricity. In parallel, a variety of measures have been launched to reduce energy consumption as part of global climate change efforts and to improve the EU's security of energy supply.

The directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services was tabled by the Prodi Commission in December 2003. It aims to tackle one of the remaining challenges: increasing energy savings when energy is sold to end-users - whether they are private consumers, companies or part of the public sector.

Increasing energy savings has since moved up the agenda of the new Commission headed by José Manuel Barroso. It has been identified as the chief political objective of Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, who launched a wide-ranging policy debate on energy efficiency in June 2005 (EurActiv, 23 June 2005).

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