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ECA finds EU contributions for energy efficiency in businesses insufficient

The European Court of Auditors (ECA), the European Union’s financial management arm reports that the contributions made by EU funds to energy efficiency in businesses remain insufficiently linked to business needs and are likely to deliver a modest input to the EU’s energy-efficiency objectives.

Furthermore, based on the evidence, the auditors find that a number of projects may have succeeded without public support.

“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 per cent by 2030”, noted Samo Jereb, a member of the European Court of Auditors. “So far, however, the real effect of EU funding on businesses’ energy efficiency remains unclear”, he emphasised.

Despite the fact that the EU devoted significant amounts of funding to support energy-efficiency improvements in businesses between 2014 and 2020, the planned EU cohesion policy support has decreased in recent years, from an overall 3.2 billion euros in 2016 down to 2.4 billion euros in 2020.

While most spending has been concentrated in a few Member States, only five of them, the CEE’s Czech Republic, Poland and Bulgaria as well as broader region’s Germany and Italy account for around two-thirds of allocated spending on energy efficiency in businesses.

In the absence of consolidated information at the EU level, the auditors have made their own calculations and concluded that the potential savings generated by the co-funded projects in businesses represent approximately 0.3 per cent of the effort needed to reach the EU’s energy efficiency targets for 2030.

In most cases, the investments that received funding was already planned which means, many projects would have gone ahead without EU support.

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