Industry leaders of some of Europe’s leading companies and organizations today criticised the EU Council over repeated attempts to water-down effective energy efficiency measures. The criticism comes as the EU Council’s energy working party gathers to discuss the draft Council conclusions on the “Energy Efficiency Plan 2011”.

The conclusions document published last week showed some heavy back-pedalling from Member States on key energy efficiency measures, especially regarding a requirement for public authorities to refurbish at least 3% of their buildings each year. The draft Council conclusions also hold back on the necessity to speed up improvements on existing buildings.

This is all the more concerning as it blatantly denies public opinion, industry, and environmental groups, who are all overwhelmingly in favour of ambitious energy efficiency measures. A survey published just last week by the European Parliament shows that 80% of EU citizens support mandatory energy savings targets, while organizations who responded to the consultation on the “Energy Roadmap 2050” placed energy efficiency as top priority for further energy policy developments in the EU.

“Energy efficiency is the silver bullet to our energy challenges that governments seem unwilling to fire.” said Tony Robson, CEO of Knauf Insulation and one of the signatories of the letter. “The deep renovation of our buildings will reduce our exposure to foreign energy shocks, combat climate change and create 2 million new jobs. It is a political no-brainer but so far there has been very little action. This is why we have joined the Renovate Europe Campaign.”

Europe’s buildings consume around a third of its energy, around the same amount of energy produced by the nuclear and coal sectors together. The European Commission estimates that up to 2 million new jobs would be created through the deep renovation of Europe’s existing buildings.

“Energy ministers have a once in a generation opportunity to shape Europe’s future. We can continue to build increasing numbers of power stations and increase our energy imports or we can start to take real action to reduce demand. The costs of inaction are clear to all.” said Jakob Sørensen, Senior Vice President at Rockwool International, a member of Renovate Europe.