In a special report published today, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) calls for clarification of the contributions made by EU funds to energy efficiency in businesses. The auditors conclude that EU funding remains insufficiently linked to business needs. And its expected results, though they are impossible to capture under the existing monitoring framework, are likely to deliver only a modest input to the EU’s energy-efficiency objectives. Among other things, the auditors found evidence to suggest that a number of projects may have succeeded without public support.
Energy efficiency is an important part of the EU’s ambition to become carbon-neutral by 2050. But significant efforts are still needed, and businesses have an important role to play. Consequently, alongside Member States’ own measures, the EU devoted significant amounts of funding to supporting energy-efficiency improvements in businesses between 2014 and 2020.
The auditors note that the planned level of EU cohesion policy support has decreased in recent years, from an overall envelope set at €3.2 billion in 2016 down to €2.4 billion in 2020. In addition, most spending has been concentrated in just a few Member States. Only five of them (the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Italy and Bulgaria) account for around two thirds of allocated spending on energy efficiency in businesses.
“Improving the energy performance of businesses, whatever the sector they operate in, is crucial if the EU wants to achieve its goal of cutting emissions by at least 55% by 2030”, said Samo Jereb, the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “So far, however, the real effect of EU funding on businesses’ energy efficiency remains unclear.”