The European Commission has adopted a proposal which will,
for the first time, enable all Member States and regions in
the European Union to invest in energy-efficiency and renewable
energy measures in housing, with the support of European Cohesion
The measure, foreseen in the European Economic Recovery Plan
presented recently, will be targeted at low-income households.
In practice, this means the EU will be able to co-finance
national, regional or local authority schemes to install double-glazing,
wall insulation and solar panels in housing.
Commenting on the proposal, Danuta Hübner, Commissioner for
regional policy, said - “This is a win-win measure.
It will save energy, cut emissions, bring down fuel bills
for the most vulnerable in society and help the construction
industry and SMEs, in particular. We hope that the Council
and the European Parliament will adopt this proposal without
delay and that Member States will move quickly to set up schemes
to harness this investment."
Andris Pielbalgs, Commissioner for energy, added - "The residential
sector is responsible for a quarter of energy consumption
in Europe. With this measure we are going to help European
citizens to improve the quality of their homes, while making
a substantial contribution to our climate change and security
of supply policies."
Boosting energy efficiency
Current legislation on the EU Structural Funds gives new
Member States only a limited right to use support from the
European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for housing. It
can only be used for common parts of a building (or the entire
building in the case of social housing) in deprived urban
areas. This proposal would allow the whole EU-27 to benefit
from ERDF support for energy efficiency and renewable energy
investment in all types of buildings. However, interventions
can target only low-income households (as defined by national
In concrete terms, interventions could co-finance, for example,
national, regional or local schemes for insulation of walls,
roofing and windows (double-glazing), solar panels and replacement
of old boilers for more energy-efficient ones.
Measures to speed up energy investment in buildings will
contribute to the following objectives -
- inject dynamism into the European economy, promote EU
competitiveness and job creation, notably in the construction
- improve know-how in the field of energy efficiency and
renewable energies - and
- underpin the objectives of other Community policies, such
as energy security, environment and the fight against climate
To-date, through the Cohesion Policy, the 27 Member States
have planned to invest €4.8 billion on renewable energies
and €4.2 billion on energy efficiency and energy management
Buildings alone are the source of 40% of
greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union. Too much energy
continues to be wasted in buildings because of inefficient
heating and air-conditioning systems and lighting.
According to current Commission estimates, cost-effective
energy savings in the building sector could reach 28% by 2020.
Some EU studies also conclude that an average EU householder
could save between €200 and €1000 per year - depending on
their energy consumption - by making their homes more energy
The Member States and the Parliament will have to adopt this
Commission’s proposal, in accordance with the co-decision
To see the overall contribution of Cohesion Policy to the
European Economic Recovery Plan, see MEMO/08/740
For more information on regional policy - Click