EU Legislation
26 Nov 2013

Summary: The Treaty of Lisbon places energy at the heart of European activity. It effectively gives it a new legal basis which it lacked in the previous treaties (Article 194 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)).

The aims of the policy are supported by different tools (mainly taxes, subsidies and the CO2 emissions trading scheme), by developing and supporting energy technologies (especially technologies for energy efficiency and renewable or low-carbon energy) and by financial instruments. Furthermore, in December 2008 the EU adopted a series of measures with the objective of reducing the EU’s contribution to global warming and guaranteeing energy supply. Source:

Since then, the EU has had three common policy objectives: reducing the energy bill for households and businesses ("competitiveness"), ensuring a reliable and uninterrupted supply of energy ("security of supply") and limiting the environmental impact of energy production, transport and use ("sustainability"). These objectives have lead to a complex common framework and numerous joint actions at EU level.

no regrets

In 2007, in the context of the debate around climate change three headline targets – to be achieved by 2020 – were agreed by heads of state or government (often referred to as "20-20-20 by 2020"): to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% compared to 1990 levels, to raise the share of renewable sources as part of the overall EU energy mix to 20% and to increase energy efficiency by 20%. These goals are also taken up in the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

The EU energy and climate policy targets ("20-20-20 until 2020") are the following:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% until 2020 compared to 1990
    • CO2 in ETS-sector by 21% by 2020 compared to 2005
    • CO2 in non-ETS-sector by 10% by 2020 compared to 2005
  • Increase the share of renewables from 8,5% to 20% of total final energy use by 2020
  • Reduce total energy use by 20% until 2020 compared to a baseline projection for 2020

State of play (2012) according to DG Energy:

meeting goals


After the 2020 strategy, two 2050 Roadmaps for Climate and Energy were published. At the moment the European Commission (DG ENER & DG CLIMA) works on a 2030 Energy and Climate Package which is expected to be finalised between the end of 2013 and spring 2014.
See graphs below:

framework 2030

energy policy

On 15 December 2011, DG Energy adopted the Communication "Energy Roadmap 2050". It refers back to the EU's headline target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050 under the condition of similar actions by developed countries. Thus, Europe's energy production will have to be almost carbon-free. The Energy Roadmap 2050 claims that this aim can be achieved without disrupting energy supplies and competitiveness.

Before, on 8 March 2011, DG Climate Action had adopted its roadmap for moving to a low-carbon economy by 2050. The roadmap suggests that, by 2050, the EU should cut its emissions to 80% below 1990 levels through domestic reductions alone. It sets out milestones: reductions of 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2040. It also shows how the main sectors responsible for Europe's emissions - power generation, industry, transport, buildings and construction, as well as agriculture - shall contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy.

ghg reductions


See additional background information:

 Background information: Sside presentation on climate policy (184.04 kB)

Reducing energy consumption and eliminating energy wastage are among the main goals of the European Union (EU). The European Commission (EC) expects that energy efficiency improvements will prove decisive for competitiveness, security of supply and for meeting the commitments on climate change made under the Kyoto Protocol. According to EC studies, there is significant potential for reducing consumption, especially in energy-intensive sectors such as buildings, manufacturing, energy conversion and transport. At the end of 2006, the EU pledged to cut its annual consumption of primary energy by 20% by 2020. To achieve this goal, the EC is working to mobilise public opinion, decision-makers and market operators, and to set minimum energy efficiency standards and rules on labelling for products, services and infrastructure.

Policy initiatives

  • Energy Efficiency Plan 2011
  • Energy efficiency for the 2020 goal
  • Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (2007-12)
  • Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) (2007-2013)
  • The Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund
  • Green Paper on energy efficiency
  • "Intelligent Energy for Europe" programme (2003-2006)
  • Action Plan for energy efficiency (2000-2006)

Energy efficiency legislation

  • Energy Efficiency Directive 2012
  • Energy performance of buildings
  • Energy end-use efficiency and energy services
  • Cogeneration

Energy efficiency of products

  • Product energy consumption: Information and labelling (from July 2011)
  • Tyre labelling
  • Ecodesign for energy-using appliances
  • Ecodesign requirements for fluorescent lamps, for high intensity discharge lamps, and for their ballasts
  • Energy efficiency of office equipment: The Energy Star Programme (EU-US)
  • Hot-water boilers


Energy Efficiency Directive (EED)

On 25 October 2012, the EU adopted the Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency. It establishes a common framework of measures for improving energy efficiency and sets energy savings obligations to ensure the achievement of the Union's 2020 20% headline target on energy efficiency. It lays down rules aiming at removing barriers in the energy market and overcome market failures, and provides for the establishment of indicative national energy efficiency targets for 2020.

See additional background information: 

 Background information: slide presentation ENER_EED Implementation (1.02 MB)

Under Article 24, paragraph 11, of the Energy Efficiency Directive, the "Commission shall make the reports referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 publicly available". Reports are published on this page as soon as they are received from member states.

DG Research and Innovation offers solutions to overcome the great challenges such as energy security, climate change, environmental degradation, the exclusion of vulnerable groups, the ageing population, global health threats, and demographic developments.
The EU possesses five key funding opportunities to support research and innovation: the Research Framework Programme, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund within the Cohesion policy, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Fisheries Fund within the Rural development policy, and the Common Fisheries Policy.

cohesion policy

Financial instruments for energy efficiency

  • Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) (2007-2013) – includes the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme (IEE)
  • Seventh Framework Programme (2007 to 2013)


( Be first to rate this item! ) 

rc-logo  eu-logo  cefic-logo 

Powered by