2050 roadmap to re-boot stalled energy efficiency talks


Denmark, which takes over the EU's rotating presidency on 1 January, is likely to use the European Commission's Energy Roadmap 2050 as a tool to push through an agreement on the stalled Energy Efficiency Directive. 

Danish minister Ida Auken, who will chair environmental talks among the 27 EU ministers for the upcoming six months, is to present her “green priorities” today (19 December) in the Council.

Against the backdrop of stalled negotiations on binding energy efficiency measures, she said her message will be: “No more business as usual”.

The Danish still have the Energy Efficiency Directive as a top priority but they are less bullish on the timetable, an industry source told EURACTIV.

Directive stalled by funding stalemate

Energy efficiency should be the main focus of all governments, because it has a positive impact on fuel-fired industries.

“Energy efficiency has to follow its economic potential,” the European Commission says in its 2050 roadmap, but this potential is locked because of the lack of political will, an EU official told EURACTIV.

“It is too expensive” and member states cannot just impose much higher energy bills on their consumers, the source said. “That would be such an unpopular move, every politician in power is thinking short-term – three, maybe four years”.

There is one way to top up consumers’ bills, however, and that is by offering services. “If energy companies focused more on services, things could improve,” according to an EU source. “But then, what if there is no demand for the service? Consumers have other, more immediate priorities.”

Talks on the efficiency directive are stalled because there is a lack of agreement on how it will be funded. The MEP working on the proposal in the European Parliament, Claude Turmes, said that unless there is a way to fund it, "this directive is wishful thinking”.

Energy roadmap raises pressure

The Danish presidency might be too impatient to clinch a deal to wait for member states to find a compromise on the efficiency directive.

The directive would be binding, so it is a “hard piece of legislation that makes it more attractive to investors,” said Ulrich Bang, head of international affairs for the Danish Energy Association.

Even if for now there is little chance the Council will take a common position on the efficiency directive, the Energy Roadmap 2050, published on 15 December by the Commission, “will create the needed investment framework for investors,” Bang said.

That is not to say that they are taking their eyes off the proposed law, but that they will try to push talks through other means.

The Danish presidency will coordinate its efforts so that it works on the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Roadmap 2050 in parallel, EURACTIV understands from several officials.

The roadmap is a political deal and easier to agree on, since it is not binding for member states.

“But the roadmap is not seen as important as the Energy Efficiency Directive, as it doesn’t make member states commit,” according to an EU official.

The Danes will try to reach ambitious conclusions, said Jørgen Knud Henningsen, senior advisor on energy and environment at the European Policy Centre.

“I hope they will keep the focus on achieving results. There is a tendency these days to do roadmaps, but these are not really policies,” Henningsen said. “The Commission was not established to make think-tank analyses, its role is to make proposals.”

It could be used, however, to push the piece of legislation that does matter, in other words create a momentum for the implementation of the efficiency directive, according to EU experts. “There is a chance that the Danish presidency will reach conclusions on this roadmap,” Ulrich Bang said.

“If you asked me a week ago, maybe I would have said that is impossible, but this changed when EU leaders called at the last summit for urgent agreement on these energy policies, ” Bang added.

“They will probably say they will have both as a priority and I think they will start a proper discussion on the roadmap,” Henningsen said. But that discussion does not exclude the Energy Efficiency Directive.

“The challenge is now for the Danish government to also think long-term, not to focus on the current mandate. The opposition has to agree to the long-term measures, too and I hope they will support them” ,he said.

The Danes could follow the model set by the Polish presidency, which did not intend to reach a binding deal on energy, but instead achieved a political agreement on the Energy Infrastructure Package, which had a side-effect on the energy efficiency proposal.

Hidden in the details

Efficiency plays an important role in all seven scenarios of the Energy Roadmap 2050 and the Energy Efficiency Directive is included in the text of the roadmap, an EU source told EURACTIV.

Primary energy demand is expected to drop in a range of 16% to 20% by 2030 and 32% to 41% by 2050 as compared to peaks in 2005-2006. “This can only be achieved through energy savings and that puts the stakes high on the Energy Efficiency Directive debate,” said Samuel Flückiger, of the European Climate Foundation.

Flückiger described the Energy Roadmap 2050 as a continuation of the the EU's 2020 energy and climate change targets extended out further into the future. It will serve as a platform for discussion for the Energy Efficiency Directive. The latter will push for the implementation of the first, he says. “If the directive can deliver action on the ground, this increases the case for reaching the target set in the Energy Roadmap 2050”.

But the roadmap can only be achieved if 10 conditions are met, the first of which is “the swift adoption of the current proposal on energy efficiency”.

"It is disappointing that the Commission failed to fully appreciate the importance of significant primary energy savings and the need to push energy efficiency up on the EU's energy policy agenda," said Britsh MEP Fiona Hall (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe), energy spokesperson on the European Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE).

"If European decision makers do not create clarity over the medium-term and long term target during the Danish presidency, the necessary investment framework for large scale and long term green investments will not be in place. To do nothing is not an option. It is just choosing an extension of a fossil fired energy system," said Ulrich Bang, Director of European Affairs at the Danish Energy Association.

“We appreciate the Commission’s recognition that energy efficiency is the top priority, but it is incomprehensible that none of the Roadmap’s scenarios assume that the 20% energy savings target will be achieved," said Stefan Scheuer, Secretary General of the Coalition for Energy Savings. “The energy efficiency sign is on the wall but the direction is missing”, he added.

“Achieving the 20% energy savings target is completely feasible with a strong Energy Efficiency Directive and the Commission’s forward planning for 2050 should cultivate this," said Erica Hope, Senior Policy officer on Energy Savings at Climate Action Network Europe, an NGO.

? Jean-Yves Blanc, president of eu.bac, the European Building Automation Controls Association, said: "A European Commission Energy Roadmap 2050, highlighting the vital importance of energy efficiency in buildings has been on the eu.bac wish list for a long time.This is a significant achievement. However, we regret that the European Commission did not take the opportunity to go up even more, ensuring that the ambition levels match those communicated in the-20-20-20 strategy."

John Harris, of smart metering company Landis+Gyr said“The shift to a more intelligent system, the smart grid, is indispensable to meeting the 2020 goals as well as achieving the situation the Commission would like to see in 2050. In all of the structural changes needed for transformation to ade-carbonized energy supply by 2050, the distribution grid and the intelligence in the network to and from the point of consumption is crucial.

Commenting on the Roadmap, Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE), a grouping of business leaders, politicians and campaigners said:

“Not aiming to achieve the 20% energy savings target in the Roadmap 2050 scenarios sends an incoherent message to the European Parliament and EU Member states about the Commission’s confidence in its proposal for an Energy Efficiency Directive (EED)."

Monique GoyensDirector General of BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation said: “The EU rightly says that saving energy is a key driver in its energy strategy. Energy efficiency is one of the most cost-effective ways for consumers to reduce their consumption and lower their bills. But we need concrete measures so that consumers can actually save energy. Such tools are clear bills to know your consumption, advice on how to consume less energy, access to affordable energy-efficient products and real incentives to change your behaviour. Any grand strategy should not overlook these basic but vital actions.

None of the scenarios in the Roadmap consider a high efficiency future and yet, this is the scenario that is most desirable for the EU as a whole, according to EuroACE.  Adrian Joyce, Secretary General of EuroACE said: “Tapping the huge potential of energy efficiency and going well beyond current EU targets is technically feasible and will, by reducing the overall amount  of energy consumed by our economy, leave us more resilient to future primary energy supply fluctuations and would mean that if the unit price of energy goes up, our energy bills will still come down,” Joyce added.

According to European Petroleum Industry Association EUROPIA,the Roadmap correctly raises some major challenges and mentions key enablers: "technology, much of which is not yet mature, will be the key to cost effective emissions reductions from energy; that “energy efficiency is a priority in all scenarios”, although reducing EU absolute energy demand without constraining economic activity will require significant breakthroughs in technology and changes in behavior, regardless of the carbon content of that energy; that financing the changes will be complex and challenging."


Europe aims to reduce its primary energy use by 20% in 2020 “simply by applying cost-effective energy savings measures”.

The current Energy Efficiency Directive was proposed by the Commission in summer 2011 to update the previous Energy Efficiency Action Plan, which had not been designed to fashion full energy savings. The 20% will not be reached, unless the EU doubles its energy savings efforts from the current projection of 9%.

In its directive, the European Commission proposes individual measures for each of the sectors that could play a role in reducing energy consumption. 

  • 20 Dec. 2011: European Parliament to present its compromise proposal on the EED proposal in theENVI committee
  • 1 Jan. 2012: Denmark takes over presidency of the EU
  • 24 Jan. 2012: Vote on EED scheduled in the ITRE (Industry Research and Energy) committee of the European Parliament
  • Jan.- Feb. 2012: Trialogue between Council, European Commission and European Parliament begins.


  • Danish presidency of the EU:Website

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