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Opinion Number: CDR 85/2012
Rapporteur: MEANEY Brian
Commission: ENVE
Status: Adopted
Date: 04/05/2012
 To call for a better urban rural balance in sustainable energy policies across the EU,
 To stress the need to tap the potential of rural areas for the achievement of the EU 2020 energy efficiency objectives.
 To stress that there is considerable potential in rural areas for both energy generation and consumption: sizeable plots of land for wind farms or solar power plants are only available in the countryside; at the same time, modern agriculture needs considerable amounts of energy to run efficiently.
 To draw attention of the key EU decision makers to this largely overlooked potential with a view to developing integrated cross sectoral sustainable energy policies for rural areas encompassing both energy efficiency in buildings transport, etc, and decentralised production of renewable energy.
Further to the CoR's contacts with the EP rapporteur on Energy Efficiency, Mr Claude Turmes, and Mr Meaney's participation on behalf of the CoR in the Informal Energy Council during the Danish presidency, a convergence of positions has been achieved between the CoR and the other institutions on a series of issues important for local and regional authorities across the EU:

the final version of the directive adopted brings forward legally binding measures to step up Member States' efforts to use energy more efficiently at all stages of the energy chain – from the transformation of energy and its distribution to its final consumption (these final stages are crucial for local and regional authorities.) Measures include the legal obligation to establish energy efficiency obligations schemes or policy measures in all Member States, and the practical implementation will take place at the local and regional level. These will drive energy efficiency improvements in households, industries and transport sectors. Other measures include an exemplary role to be played by the public sector and a right for consumers to know how much energy they consume. The CoR has stressed the consumer perspective in the regulatory framework for energy efficiency, because the local and regional level of governance is closest to the citizen's not least in terms in ensuring affordable utility services.

The overall approach of the directive adopted is thus is in line with the conclusions of several recent CoR opinions dealing with sustainable energy in general and with energy efficiency in particular.

Moreover, in line with the CoR's opinions, the EP report has stressed that Member States should establish a long-term strategy beyond 2020 for mobilizing investment in the renovation of residential and commercial buildings with a view to improving the energy performance of the building stock. This strategy should address cost effective deep renovations which lead to a refurbishment that reduces both the delivered and the final energy consumption of a building by a significant percentage compared with the pre-renovation levels leading to a very high energy performance. Such deep renovations could also be carried out in stages. The majority of buildings to be renovated fall under the area of responsibility of local and regional authorities who are key enablers in this process.

In response to the CoR's call for adequate funding for energy efficiency measures at the local and regional level, the EP has held that Member States should encourage the use of financial facilities to further the objectives of this Directive, notably by facilities based, where applicable, on resources allocated to energy efficiency from EU projects bonds; resources allocated to energy efficiency from the European Investment Bank and other European financial institutions, in particular the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Council of Europe Development Bank; resources leveraged in financial institutions; national resources, including through the creation of regulatory and fiscal frameworks encouraging the implementation of energy efficiency initiatives and programmes.

These local and regional concerns have been taken on board in the final text of the directive as adopted.

- demands that energy efficiency must be a central and integral element of energy policies and must be given sufficient priority in the energy policy hierarchy;

- supports a better bundling of financial support measures for energy efficiency and energy conservation in future EU funding programmes;

- calls for stronger measures to influence human behaviour and energy consumption patterns and suggests that this requires a mix of ‘carrot and stick’ measures, demonstrating the economic case but also greater emphasis on mandatory requirements, when necessary;

- acknowledges that the current policy focus is on cities to realise current policy objectives, but underlines the need to also address in a more comprehensive and coordinated way the challenges and opportunities that rural areas face when it comes to energy use and production.

- calls on Local and Regional Authorities to share energy efficiency and conservation best practice and to enhance energy resilience by planning for and piloting the delivery of their services with minimal energy input levels.
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