Ministry: Estonia won't agree to Europarliament's energy efficiency of buildings plan

  • 2023-03-16
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonia does not agree with all the proposals of the European Parliament to achieve climate neutrality in the construction sector, Ivo Jaanisoo, deputy secretary general for construction at the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, said on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the European Parliament adopted its position on draft measures on the energy performance of buildings, which aim to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption in the European Union's construction sector by 2030 and make it climate neutral by 2050. The energy efficiency class of residential buildings should be at least E by 2030 and at least D by 2033, on a scale from A to G.

"Estonia cannot agree with all proposals of the European Parliament and we want to maintain the line agreed last year, which gives countries more flexibility and takes into account national specificities," Jaanisoo told BNS.

He said the parliament's approach endorsed on Tuesday, by which the matter will move forward into trilogue talks, is significantly more ambitious than the approach agreed between the member states and the Council.

He noted that there are several challenges in implementing the European Parliament's plan.

"One important issue is definitely funding. When the draft directive enters into force, the state must decide with which resources to achieve an annual reconstruction volume of all buildings three to five times larger than the current one," the official said.

Another major challenge is how the construction market will adapt to growing renovation volumes. The pace of growth in renovation must be evenly distributed and consistent to allow the construction market and owners of dwellings to adapt to the increase in renovation volumes. This is necessary to avoid very high price increases and to ensure that renovation work is done by well-qualified contractors," he said.

According to the ministry, achieving class D energy efficiency in residential buildings by 2033 would mean an estimated amount of more than 2 billion euros of state support for homeowners in Estonia, on top of which come own contributions by the owners.

Andry Krass, head of the Estonian Owners' Association, described the targets for the energy performance of buildings as too ambitious, which cannot be achieved in practice to the extent planned.

"The requirement concerns approximately 45-50 percent of the building stock in all countries of the European Union. Given the suggested exceptions and adjustments, this would mean in practice that around 40 percent of the total building stock in the European Union would be renovated as early as by 2033. Putting this in the context of Estonia, it would mean that 350,000 homes/dwellings/apartment buildings/housing units would have to be renovated within ten years," Krass noted in a memo sent to Estonian MEPs on Monday.

In addition, the sharp increases in the prices of construction materials and the energy crisis, caused by the war in Ukraine, as well as the lack of qualified labor, must be taken into account.

Jaanisoo acknowledged that there are still many unanswered questions about the final wording of the objectives.

"At the moment, it is not at all certain what final compromise the European Commission, Parliament and Council will reach on the interim targets. The next step is for the parties to negotiate thoroughly and reach an agreement that is acceptable to all parties, including Estonia," the deputy secretary general added.