Few European measures have aimed directly at rational energy use. These were notably: the Directive on summertime arrangements [Directive 2000/84], which it was felt could save electricity; and the Directive on crude-oil savings relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels [Directive 98/70, last amended by Directive 2015/1513]. However, the harmonisation of legislations in the context of the common market, while ensuring that standards for rational energy use did not become new technical barriers to the free movement of goods and did not distort competition within the common market, encouraged energy savings [see section 6.2]. This is the case, eg.: of the Directive establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products [Directive 2009/125]; the regulations concerning emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Euro 5 and Euro 6) [Regulation 715/2007, last amended by Regulation 2016/646] and concerning emissions from heavy duty vehicles (Euro VI) [Regulation 595/2009, see section 16.3.4].
As part of the SAVE programme (now included in the Intelligent Energy - Europe programme), measures were adopted on: the standardisation of efficiency requirements for new hot-water boilers fired with liquid or gaseous fuels [Directive 92/42]; ecodesign requirements for household refrigerating appliances [Regulation 643/2009]; and on a European energy-efficiency labelling programme for office equipment [Regulation 106/2008]. In this context, the Commission has adopted Directives concerning the energy labelling of: refrigerators and freezers [Directive 94/2]; household dishwashers [Directive 97/17]; and household lamps [Directive 98/11].
A Directive promotes the improvement of the energy performance of buildings within the Union, taking into account outdoor climatic and local conditions, as well as indoor climate requirements and cost-effectiveness [Directive 2010/31]. Another Directive establishes a framework for the harmonisation of national measures on end-user information, particularly by means of labelling and standard product information, on the consumption of energy and where relevant of other essential resources during use, and supplementary information concerning energy-related products, thereby allowing end-users to choose more efficient products [Directive 2010/30, last amended by Directive 2012/27].
Thanks in part to various measures taken by the Member States at the prompting of European institutions and in part to the reduction of energy demand and the increase of internal production, notably in the North Sea, the EU, in 2000, imported about half of its total energy needs compared with two-thirds twenty five years earlier. However, despite these improvements, the problems have not gone away. The European Union still has to cope with a massive oil bill, vast amounts of investment, and the implications for environmental pollution and energy dependence that should be reduced in the medium term.
Energy accounts for 80% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. Therefore, energy objectives converge with the environmental objectives pursued by the Directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services [Directive 2006/32, partially repealed by Directive 2012/27, see section 16.3.4], which seeks to enhance the cost-effective improvement of energy end-use efficiency in the Member States by: (a) providing the necessary indicative targets to remove market barriers and imperfections that impede the efficient end use of energy; and (b) creating the conditions for the development of a market for energy services and other energy efficiency improvement measures.
The "Intelligent Energy - Europe" programme, which is part of the European Union’s Research and Innovation Programme ‘Horizon2020’ [Regulation 1291/2013, see section 18.4], finances, inter alia, actions fostering energy efficiency and the rational use of energy resources (IEE - SAVE), including: (a) improvement of energy efficiency and the rational use of energy, in particular in the building and industry sectors and; (b) supporting the preparation of legislative measures and their application.
The objective of the Action Plan for Energy Efficiency of the Commission is to control and reduce energy demand and to take targeted action on consumption and supply in order to save 20% of annual consumption of primary energy by 2020, thus achieving approximately a 1.5% energy saving per year up to 2020 [COM/2006/545]. Concrete effort needs to be made to achieve this objective, in particular with respect to energy saving in the transport sector, the development of minimum efficiency requirements for energy-using appliances, awareness-raising amongst consumers about sensible and economic energy use, improving the efficiency of the production, transport and distribution of heating and electricity, developing energy technologies and improving the energy performance of buildings. The EU also intends to achieve a common approach on a global scale for saving energy through the conclusion of an international agreement on energy efficiency.