New measures would boost energy saving and help EU reach 2020 goal of 20% reduction.
The EU's strategy for tackling climate change focuses on three targets for 2020: slashing greenhouse emissions by 20%, drawing 20% of energy from renewable sources and cutting energy use by 20%.
The EU is on track for the emissions and renewables goals, but has fallen behind on reducing energy use. If nothing is done, the EU will only achieve half of the reductions. To regain lost ground, the Commission is proposing binding energy-efficiency measures .
The proposals include a requirement for all countries to establish energy-saving plans.
Energy suppliers would be required to encourage their customers to become more energy-efficient, thereby reducing sales volumes by 1.5% annually.
For example, they could help homeowners improve the efficiency of their heating systems, install double-glazing and insulate roofs.
Governments could propose alternative ways of achieving the same results, such as funding programmes or voluntary agreements with suppliers.
Other measures would require:
Governments would also have to monitor the efficiency of new power plants and promote the recovery of waste heat.
EU governments must approve the measures, which will form part of a long-term vision for transforming Europe into a low-carbon but competitive economy.
In 2014 the Commission will make an assessment on whether the EU is back on track for meeting the 20% energy reduction goal. If necessary, a new proposal will be made setting mandatory national targets.