The European Court of Auditors (ECA) is seeking clarification on how contributions from EU funds have impacted the energy efficiency of businesses across the continent.
Released this week, the report titled Energy Efficiency in Enterprises seeks to quantify the impact the more than €2.4bn the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund paid out between 2014 and 2020.
Overall, the authors wrote: “[…] we found that the planned spending was not well integrated within the EU energy efficiency strategy, while certain projects had efficiency issues. Member States set up efficiency criteria for projects, but these alone did not lead to improved project efficiency. The expected results, although not captured by the existing monitoring framework, indicate that the projects contribution to the energy efficiency objectives will be limited.”
The ECA also reported that policy support had actually declined between 2016 and 2020, from a projected €3.2bn in 2016 to €2.4bn in 2020. Most of the spending had been concentrated in a small number of EU member states, with five of them (Czechia, Poland, Germany, Italy, and Bulgaria) accounting for two-thirds of allocated spending on energy efficiency in businesses.
However, the ECA say that the projects funded did not need EU support, and would have gone ahead anyway. “[…] in most cases, the investments that received funding were already planned,” the report says.
In an accompanying statement, the ECA said: “The overall contribution of EU funding is hard to determine. The auditors note that there is no performance assessment possible at EU level: national authorities do have indicators, but they differ from one Member State to the other, and sometimes even between programmes in the same Member State.”
It concluded: “In the absence of consolidated information at EU level, the auditors have made their own calculations. They estimate that the potential savings generated by the co-funded projects in businesses represent approximately 0.3% of the effort needed to reach the EU’s energy efficiency targets for 2030. In other words, EU-funded energy efficiency projects will deliver only a modest contribution to the EU’s objectives.”