EU: Germany, Others Breaking Energy Law
Russia crisis has made energy savings a priority; non-compliance with EU law can lead to tough fines. Member states have two months to reply to warning letters.
EU regulators have begun legal proceedings against 24 member states, including Germany, for failing to enforce a law on energy efficiency, the Commission said on Wednesday.
Energy saving has shot up the list of EU priorities since the conflict with the European Union's biggest oil and gas supplier Russia over its actions in Ukraine increased concerns about energy security.
Commission spokeswoman Marlene Holzner told reporters proceedings began automatically against Germany because it had not enforced EU legislation on saving energy.
She only named Germany, but the Commission said that in total, 24 of the bloc's 28 member states missed a June 5 deadline for fully transposing the European Union's Energy Efficiency Directive into their national laws.
The Energy Efficiency Directive was signed into law in 2012 to enforce an existing target to reduce energy use by 20 percent by 2020 compared with projected use. The Commission now says the bloc is broadly on track to meet that target through measures such as building insulation.
But the EU was only expected to meet about half of its non-binding 20 percent goal until the 2012 directive was agreed under the leadership of Denmark, which held the rotating presidency.
Those listed as non-compliers include Denmark, which has transposed the law, but had simply failed to tell the Commission it had done so.
The five member states who say they have enforced the law are Cyprus, Denmark, Italy, Malta and Sweden, according to a list published by the Commission.
The 24 who have been sent formal warning letters by the Commission have two months to reply, which for Denmark should be a simple matter of stating it is now in compliance.
Member states who do not act to comply eventually face the possibility of tough fines for every day that they fail to implement EU law.
Reporting by Barbara Lewis