More than € 2 billion in European Union (EU) funding to help businesses save energy has made a modest contribution to achieving the EU’s climate goals, and in some cases many projects have been carried out without the support of the EU. EU, the European Court of Auditors has announced.

In a special report published on Monday, the European Court of Auditors called for clarification of the contributions that EU funds make to energy efficiency in businesses. The auditors conclude that EU funding is still insufficiently linked to business needs. In addition, the expected results of this funding – although the existing monitoring framework makes it impossible to identify them – will most likely provide only a modest contribution to the EU ‘s energy efficiency targets. Among other things, the auditors identified evidence to suggest that a number of projects could have been implemented without public support.

The auditors note that the planned level of support for EU cohesion policy has fallen in recent years, from a global financial package set in 2016 to € 3.2 billion to € 2.4 billion in 2020. In addition, most of the expenditure was concentrated in only a few Member States. About two-thirds of the costs allocated to energy efficiency in enterprises correspond to only five Member States (Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Italy and Bulgaria), according to

“Improving the energy performance of businesses, regardless of the sector in which they operate, is essential if the EU is to achieve its goal of reducing emissions by at least 55% by 2030. However, to date, the real effect that EU funding for energy efficiency in businesses remains unclear, “said Samo Jereb, a member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report.

The report calls into question the real added value of EU funding. It is clear that EU grants play a role when companies make investment decisions. However, in most cases, the investments that received funding were already planned. In other words, many projects would have been carried out without EU support.

Even when public support is not provided, investments in energy efficiency are generally effective, the auditors note. It is estimated that it is cheaper to save one unit of energy than to pay for the same amount of electricity, the predominantly used energy source. This statement has become even more valid since the recent rise in energy prices.

In the absence of consolidated information at EU level, the auditors performed their own calculations. They estimate that the potential savings from business co-financed projects represent around 0.3% of the effort needed to meet the EU’s energy efficiency targets set for 2030. In other words, EU-funded energy efficiency projects will bring only a modest contribution to EU goals.

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