EU starts hammering out deal on Buildings Directive (EU)

The Swedish presidency will meet with MEPs on 30 September to hammer out an early second-reading agreement on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive but reaching an agreement by the end of the year appears to be a long shot. The Swedish presidency therefore hopes to have a mandate from national representatives next week to negotiate an early second-reading agreement that EU energy ministers could approve at a meeting in December.

One of the key points to be agreed upon is the directive's implementation date. The latest council working document shows that national capitals are seeking more time to apply the recast directive, which aims to improve buildings' energy efficiency. The commission originally proposed the transposition of the directive to national law by the end of 2010, which member states consider "much too soon". Moreover, member states want to postpone full application of the standards for public buildings to two years and for other buildings to three years after the directive enters into force. Even if the Swedish presidency achieves its goal of reaching a compromise agreement on the law by the end of 2009, the deadline for transposition would likely be set back by a year. At the same time, public authorities would get more time to comply.

The emerging council position will likely pit member states against the Parliament, which has clearly stated that the recast directive should promote the fast uptake of "zero-energy buildings". The preliminary council position shows that member states are prepared to set "ambitious quantitative targets" for the number of low-energy buildings by 2020. But the targets would only be set for new residential and non-residential buildings and new buildings occupied by public authorities.

The Parliament, on the other hand, wants member states to fix a minimum proportion of both new and refurbished buildings that have to be energy neutral by 2015 and 2020 respectively.

Sources: Euractiv, European Council, European Parliament

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