Nick criticises transparency on EU energy efficiency
EU spending is coming under increasing criticism especially in Britain as we we are constantly told to tighten our belts in order to keep other European nations debt within acceptable limits.
By Ian Bell
On 25 October 2012, the EU adopted the new Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency. This Directive establishes a common framework of measures for the promotion of energy efficiency within the Union in order to ensure the achievement of the Union’s 2020 20 % headline target on energy efficiency and to pave the way for further energy efficiency improvements beyond that date.
It lays down rules designed to remove barriers in the energy market and overcome market failures that impede efficiency in the supply and use of energy, and provides for the establishment of indicative national energy efficiency targets for 2020.
The EU Court of Auditors criticised energy efficiency projects as 'not cost-effective' in the Czech Republic, Italy and Lithuania, those countries who have received the most EU funding for such projects in 2007-2013.
The auditors looked at a sample of 24 energy efficiency projects co-financed by the Cohesion Fund and European Regional Development Fund. Under co-financing, the national governments contribute a percentage of the investment themselves.
Harald Woegerbauer, who compiled a report for the EU Court of Auditors, concluded that funds often went to general refurbishment of public buildings while energy efficiency was, at best, a secondary concern.
National authorities used the funds to refurbish buildings, but the spending would not be recouped for 50 years on average, the report said. In some cases the savings would not appear for up to 150 years, and such a delay would even go beyond the expected lifetime of the buildings concerned.
The European Parliament's chief negotiator on the issue, MEP Claude Turmes (Member of the European Parliament for Luxembourg's Green Party, part of the European Greens), said the auditors were right to call for better selection of projects and better evaluation.
The auditors say the European Commission, which allocates EU budget funds, should ensure that such projects undergo a thorough needs assessment first, and that proper monitoring for cost-effectiveness is done.
The report complained of a lack of necessary data, because energy audits are not mandatory in Italy and Lithuania. In the Czech Republic, where they are required, the recommended investment options were far too costly.
It calls on energy companies to cut by 1.5% annually the amount of energy they sell to customers and requires national authorities to refurbish at least 3% of public buildings.
Nick Griffin said that the report from the auditors showed that some countries were exploiting EU grants. He said: "Our money is being used to refurbish buildings in foreign countries under the guise of energy efficiency. As the auditors note there is little transparency in some areas. Frankly we are being milked. The UK plays by the rules and others don't. No wonder we end up the losers!"
Energy efficiency will be more important in the next round of EU Cohesion funding, for 2013-2020. Each country will have to present its energy efficiency plan to the Commission this April.
Before then, President Herman Van Rompuy is expected to announce a new round of negotiations at an EU summit on February 7-8 after the first round of talks among leaders ended without agreement last November, and after Britain demanded other European Nations go beyond the 80 billion euros of cuts that have already been proposed. But he will only confirm that talks will resume early next month once Berlin, London and Paris, in particular, have signalled their willingness to do a deal.
Expect Cameron to 'do a deal' whilst continuing to cut all of Britain's vital services to pay for it!