In 2012, the Energy Efficiency Directive was adopted by EU leaders, enacting a 20 % energy efficiency target to be achieved by 2020. In 2018, the policy framework was updated to 2030 and beyond, and the amended Energy Efficiency Directive (EU) 2018/2002 came into force, establishing a target of at least 32.5 % improvement in energy efficiency by 2030 in the 27 EU Member States (EU-27). In 2021, the European Commission proposed a revision of the Directive including a 9% increase of the 2030 binding target; It was then proposed in 2022, in the context of the REPowerEU plan to increase the target from 9% to 13%.
Following negotiations and adoption in the Council and in the European Parliament, the new Energy Efficiency Directive (EU) 2023/1791 has entered into force in October 2022. EU Member States must nowtranspose the EU Directive into national legislation within 2 years and integrate fully the new objective in their respective National Energy and Climate Plans. Following negotiations and adoption in the Council and in the European Parliament, the new Energy Efficiency Directive (EU) 2023/1791 has entered into force in October 2022. EU Member States must nowtranspose the EU Directive into national legislation within 2 years and integrate fully the new objective in their respective National Energy and Climate Plans.
According to the new Directive, it is legally-binding for the EU to reduce the EU’s final energy consumption by 11.7% by 2030 (relative to the 2020 reference scenario). And, the annual energy saving should increase over time, from 1.3% per year over the period 2024-2025 (against 0.8% now) to1.5% over the period 2026-2027 and to 1.9% from 2028.
Also in 2021, the European Commission proposed a revision of the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD) that is still under negotiation; together with the new Energy Efficiency Directive, they reflect the EU’s increased climate ambitions, as set out in the European Green Deal, and the goal of reducing net GHG emissions by at least net 55 % compared with 1990 by 2030.
The EEA monitors progress towards the energy efficiency targets using indicative linear trajectories between the primary and final energy consumption levels in 2005 and the 2020 targets.
What the data are telling us
Following the substantial fall in energy consumption in 2020, largely driven by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU-27 met and overachieved the 2020 target in its final year, after not having been on track to do so.
In terms of final energy consumption, a slightly decreasing trend is observed over the last 15 years.
Achieving the new and binding 2030 energy efficiency target of final energy consumption by 11.7% (relative to the 2020 reference scenario) will require continuous intensive reductions in energy consumption and substantial investments in all sectors.
To achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the EU will need to reduce its primary and final energy consumption faster than it has since 2005.
At the global level, energy efficiency is a key dimension of a sustainable and low-carbon energy system; it is central to the current United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The target of SDG 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all) is to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030.
At EU level, the energy union strategy (launched in 2015) provides the main direction of EU energy policy. Improving energy efficiency is one of the five dimensions at the core of the policy: the overall aim is to reduce dependence on energy imports, lower emissions, and drive jobs and growth.
Accelerating energy efficiency, treat energy efficiency as an energy source and adopting the “energy efficiency first principle” to go beyond the energy system as suchare key aspects of the energy new EED.
Reducing energy consumption and the waste of energy across the whole economy and society — from production to final consumption — in all economic sectors, at all levels and involving all economic actors, including the financial sector, is one of the EU’s strategic objectives. It benefits both the environment, by mitigating climate change and reducing other air emissions, and Europeans, by lowering their energy bills and improving their quality of life. It also improves the competitiveness of EU companies and contributes to reducing the EU’s energy dependency.
The overall trend in final energy consumption is driven by efficiency progress in each sector, by behaviour and by structural changes. The reduction in final energy consumption in industry tends to be outweighed by the increase in the transport sector, for example. Energy efficiency measures, and a shift towards a more service-oriented economy, are driving a decline in consumption in industry. In buildings, energy efficiency improvements are outweighed by the increasing number of appliances and increasing floor areasbut behaviour cansignificantly decrease energy use for heating and cooling(e.g.: by setting thermostat at reasonable level). Overall, the increasing energy consumption in the transport sector is slowing down its progress.How cities and territories are structurally organised is a key driver of energy consumption in transport.Success in energy demand reduction in one area may eventually lead to increase energy use in another, depending on how economic actors use the money saved (if any).
“Member States shall collectively ensure a reduction of energy consumption of at least 11.7 % in 2030 compared to the projections of the 2020 EU Reference Scenario so that the Union’s final energy consumption amounts to no more than 763 Mtoe. Member States shall make efforts to collectively contribute to the indicative Union primary energy consumption target amounting to no more than 992.5 Mtoe in 2030.”
 Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products. Regulation (EU) 2017/1369 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2017 setting a framework for energy labelling and repealing Directive 2010/30/EU.