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News announcement25 July 2023Directorate-General for Energy

European Green Deal: Energy Efficiency Directive adopted, helping make the EU ‘Fit for 55’


Today, the EU has officially concluded the inter-institutional negotiations on the enhanced legal framework for energy efficiency. The Council’s endorsement follows the one given by the European Parliament earlier this month and marks the final step in the legislative process that started in July 2021 as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package. By recasting the Energy Efficiency Directive, the EU is moving one step closer to achieving its climate goals, making an unwavering commitment to becoming climate-neutral by 2050.

EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson welcomed the adoption:

"Another milestone has been achieved today towards completing the Fit For 55 objectives. Our increased ambition and stronger measures on energy efficiency will accelerate the energy transition. The EU’s security of supply will be boosted, and our dependency on Russian fossil fuels will further decrease, in line with the REPowerEU Plan. The strengthened energy efficiency directive will help us achieve these goals collectively across the EU."

Setting a legally binding target of 11.7% reduction in final energy consumption by 2030 compared to the 2020 reference year, the updated legislation introduces a series of measures to help accelerate energy efficiency practices. Notably, EU countries will now be legally required to prioritise energy efficiency in policymaking, planning, and major investments, giving the ‘energy efficiency first principle’ substantial legal standing for the first time.

Moreover, the EU countries agreed to almost double their annual energy savings obligation in the coming years. In fact, under the recast Directive, EU countries will be required to achieve an average annual energy savings rate of 1.49% from 2024 to 2030, up from the current requirement of 0.8%, driving energy savings in critical sectors like buildings, industry, and transport.  

With the definition of energy poverty included in the legislation, EU countries are compelled to prioritise energy efficiency improvements for vulnerable customers, low-income households, and individuals in social housing, including within the scope of the energy savings obligation.

The recast directive further strengthens the exemplary role to be played by the public sector in enhancing energy efficiency practices. A significant advancement is the introduction of an annual energy consumption reduction target of 1.9% for the public sector as a whole. Moreover, the annual 3% buildings renovation obligation is being extended to all levels of public administration. The public sector will also play a driving role in the development of the energy services market. Energy Performance Contracts will be prioritised in the implementation of energy efficiency projects in the public sector, whenever possible. Public bodies will continue to consider energy efficiency requirements when making decisions regarding the purchase of products, buildings, and services, fostering systematic improvements.

Businesses operating in the EU will be able to benefit from assessments of their energy use practices, with energy management systems becoming a default requirement for large energy consumers exceeding 85 TJ of annual energy consumption and will be subject to mandatory audits in the event of non-compliance. Enterprises with an energy consumption above 10 TJ will have to perform an energy audit and prepare an action plan for the different recommendations. The agreement also introduces a reporting scheme of energy performance in large data centres, promoting transparency and optimisation of energy efficiency potential.

Given the importance of digitalisation and data centres, the directive introduces an obligation for the monitoring of the energy performance of data centres. An EU-level database will collect and publish data, which is relevant for the energy performance and water footprint of data centres with significant energy consumption.

The new legislation also promotes local heating and cooling plans in larger municipalities. Moreover, based on the revised definition of efficient district heating and cooling included in the legislation, minimum requirements will be gradually tightened in the coming years towards achieving a fully decarbonised district heating and cooling supply by 2050.

Equipping the workforce with relevant skills will also be key to the successful achievement of the enhanced targets.  EU countries will therefore need to ensure that certification and qualification opportunities are available for energy efficiency-related professions.

The agreement further supports energy efficiency financing provisions to facilitate investments, including from the private sector, which has a key role to play given the limited public resources available for the clean energy transition. EU countries are tasked with promoting innovative financing schemes and green lending products, ensuring wider access through transparent investment. Enhanced reporting on energy efficiency investments will improve accountability and transparency.


As part of the 'Clean energy for all Europeans package', the Energy Efficiency Directive underwent significant amendments in 2018, introducing updated energy efficiency targets of at least 32.5% by 2030, based on 2007 projections. Additionally, an extended energy savings obligation was implemented, specifying annual energy savings targets for EU countries during the 2021-2030 period.

The Commission’s proposal for a second revision (a recast) of the Energy Efficiency Directive was put on the table in July 2021 as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package. This proposal included an energy efficiency target of 9% compared to the 2020 reference scenario, asserting the important role to be played by energy efficiency in Europe’s efforts to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

In the context of the REPowerEU plan, energy efficiency was indicated as one of the most effective and sustainable ways for the EU to discontinue its reliance on Russian fossil fuel imports. Therefore, as part of this plan, the Commission proposed to increase the energy efficiency target from 9% to 13%, still compared to the 2020 reference scenario.   

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Publication date
25 July 2023
Directorate-General for Energy