The European Union has set a target to reduce energy consumption by 20% compared to the EU energy consumption projections in 2020. This was laid down in the second Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (EEAP) in October 2006 and was agreed by EU Heads of State and Government in March 2007. The energy savings target is not binding, unlike the two other targets the EU has set for 2020, on the share of renewable energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2011, the European Commission assessed that existing and planned policies would deliver only around 11% of the savings required to achieve the overall 20% EU target in 2020. To close this gap, a new Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) was adopted in 2012. The EED defines the EU 2020 energy savings target, as a total energy use in 2020 of 1483 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in primary energy (or 1086 Mtoe in final energy). Member States are required to set their own ‘indicative’ national targets and provide plans as to how they intend to meet them. Unfortunately, the sum of these national 2020 energy efficiency targets leave a gap of around 3% towards achieving the 2020 EU target.

In October 2015, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published its 'Trends and Projections' report for 2015. This report tracks the EU’s progress towards achieving its 2020 climate and energy targets each year. It includes an analysis for the current 2020 greenhouse gas, the renewables and the energy efficiency targets.

The report estimates that under the current trend, the EU is on track to achieve the 2020 energy efficiency target, highlighting though that this could easily change, especially if the implementation of the existing legislation is not as effective as it should be. European Commission’s analysis, on the other hand, identified a gap of 1 to 2% towards achieving the target. Regardless of which projection is more accurate, the fact remains that this target is a European commitment and failing to achieve it is not an option. 

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