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Energy efficiency directive

First adopted in 2012, the directive was updated in 2018 and 2023, setting rules and obligations for achieving the EU’s ambitious energy efficiency targets.

Energy efficiency helps reduce overall energy consumption and is therefore central to achieving the EU’s climate ambition, while enhancing present and future energy security and affordability. To ensure that the EU’s 2030 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% (compared to 1990) can be met, the Commission has revised the Energy Efficiency Directive, together with other energy and climate rules.

The revised directive

The revised Energy Efficiency Directive, published in the Official Journal on 20 September 2023, significantly raises the EU’s ambition on energy efficiency.

It establishes ‘energy efficiency first’ as a fundamental principle of EU energy policy, giving it legal-standing for the first time. In practical terms, this means that energy efficiency must be considered by EU countries in all relevant policy and major investment decisions taken in the energy and non-energy sectors.

The 2023 revision of the directive follows a proposal for a recast directive on energy efficiency put forward by the Commission in July 2021, as part of the EU Green Deal package. The 2021 proposal was further enhanced as part of the REPowerEU plan, presented by the Commission in May 2022, aiming to decrease the EU’s dependency on fossil fuel imports from Russia.

Timeline 2012-2023

  1. September 2023

    The revised directive was published in the EU Official Journal.

  2. July 2023

    Formal agreement of the revised Energy Efficiency Directive

  3. May 2022

    The REPowerEU Plan proposing to raise the energy efficiency targets further

  4. July 2021

    Commission proposal for a recast of the directive, part of Fit for 55 package

  5. December 2018

    Agreement of the amending energy Efficiency Directive 2018/2002

  6. November 2012

    Directive on Energy Efficiency 2012/27/EU

Energy consumption targets and savings obligation

The 2023 revised directive raises the EU energy efficiency target, making it binding for EU countries to collectively ensure an additional 11.7% reduction in energy consumption by 2030, compared to the 2020 reference scenario projections. As a result, overall EU energy consumption by 2030 should not exceed 992.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) for primary energy and 763 Mtoe for final energy.

Under the updated rules, EU countries have agreed to help achieve the EU target by setting indicative national contributions using a combination of objective criteria which reflect national circumstances (energy intensity, GDP per capita, energy savings potential and fixed energy consumption reduction). The directive also includes an enhanced “gap-filling mechanism” that will be triggered if countries fall behind in delivering their national contributions.

    EU countries annual energy savings

    The revised directive more than doubles the annual energy savings obligation (Article 8) by 2028. This is one of the key policy instruments of the directive to meet the headline target and to drive energy savings in end-use sectors, such as buildings, industry and transport.


    EU countries are required to achieve cumulative end-use energy savings for the entire obligation period (running from 2021 to 2030), equivalent to new annual savings of at least 0,8% of final energy consumption in 2021-2023, at least 1.3% in 2024-2025, 1.5 % in 2026-2027 and 1.9 % in 2028-2030.

    Energy poverty and consumers

    Furthermore, it includes improved regulations to identify and remove barriers related to split incentives for energy efficiency renovations between tenants and owners or among multiple owners.

    The changes introduced require EU countries to prioritise energy efficiency improvements for vulnerable customers, individuals affected by energy poverty and those living in social housing. To address any potential negative impacts, the revenue generated from the extension of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) to buildings and transport will be used through the Social Climate Fund

    Under the energy savings obligation, each EU country is responsible for achieving a share of its energy savings among vulnerable customers and those affected by energy poverty. The criteria for determining these targets will be defined by each country, allowing flexibility for tailored solutions based on country-specific circumstances.

    Audit obligations, technical competence requirements and investments reporting

    To optimise energy savings in the industrial sector, the directive expands the scope of energy audit obligations to include all those companies, regardless of their size, which are consuming energy above a certain threshold. Therefore, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) would also have to carry out an energy audit, where there is significant energy saving potential. Meanwhile, the directive makes energy management systems a mandatory requirement for large industrial energy consumers to monitor and optimise their energy efficiency.

    Additionally, under the revised directive, EU countries will need to ensure an appropriate level of competence for energy efficiency related professionals, aligning them with market needs and enforcing clearer and stricter requirements for the necessary competencies. This includes energy service providers, energy auditors, energy managers and installers.

    The directive mandates EU countries to report on energy efficiency investments, including energy performance contracts, as part of the Governance Regulation, ensuring transparency and accountability. It also establishes project development assistance mechanisms at national, regional, and local levels to support energy efficiency investments and facilitate the attainment of the EU’s ambitious energy efficiency targets.

    Heating and cooling and data centres

    To ensure a fully decarbonised district heating and cooling supply by 2050, the definition of efficient district heating and cooling is revised and minimum requirements will be gradually changed to allow for a progressive integration of renewable energy and waste heat and cold in the system.

    Support to new high-efficiency cogeneration units using natural gas and connected to district heating in efficient district heating and cooling systems will only be possible until 2030, whereas any other fossil fuel use will be banned for new heat generation capacities in such systems. EU countries will also have to promote local heating and cooling plans in large municipalities having populations above 45 000.

    The revised 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 a significant energy consumption.

    Previous versions of the directive 


    24 SEPTEMBRIE 2021
    Evolution of indicative national energy efficiency target for 2020
    (189.87 KB - PDF)

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