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Plans for mandatory energy certificates to accompany the sale and rent of all EU buildings are set to become law by 2008 at the latest according to the most recent wording of a future EU directive. The draft text is understood to have been agreed both by governments and key European parliament representatives, and could enter into force later this year.
The law will introduce harmonised EU energy auditing procedures and require countries to fix binding minimum energy efficiency targets for buildings. No EU minimum targets have been proposed. Because of this, the energy certificates - outlining a building's energy performance to potential buyers and tenants - are seen as more powerful potential drivers of efficiency. According to the new draft, finalised late last month and circulated by the Council of ministers, member states would have to introduce certification within three years - around the end of 2005. Those countries lacking energy audit experts would have an extra three years to comply. Ministers had originally wanted four extra years, but the European parliament voted in February for none. Sources close to the process say the new compromise has been developed with leading figures from the European parliament. Rapporteur MEP Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca could not be reached to confirm this today. If this is the case, MEPs will begin their formal approval of the directive at a meeting of the parliament's energy committee on 26 August, avoiding a lengthy second reading. A second reading would take the date for a formal agreement well into next year. If such a foreshortened timetable is followed, all member states will be obliged to have the law in place before the start of the first Kyoto protocol commitment period, partially allaying concerns expressed by environmentalists and energy efficiency lobbyists that the legislation would have little impact on the EU's implementation of the global climate pact. Follow-up: EU Council of ministers, tel: +32 2 285 6211 (c) ENDs Environmental Daily
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