Hungary too shall take the energy efficiency of buildings seriously, the EU says

Second phase of infringement procedure starts against Hungary for failing to transpose the energy performance directive. Non-compliance might cause heavy penalty – as it has been proposed for Portugal.

The measures of the 2010/31/EU directive had to be transposed into national law by July 2012. Only three countries fulfilled their obligation entirely, against the rest of the member states, infringement proceedings have been launched. According to our information, Hungary submitted its observations regarding the procedure last year, however, the submitted explanation was apparently not satisfactory for the Commission.

Thus, the Commission sent a so called reasoned opinion to Hungary this September. The somewhat mystic title refers to the simple act, that the Commission gave another detailed statement on the discrepancies which, according to the EU law, must be eliminated in the next two months.

Since the reasoned opinion is not a public document, we are not exactly aware of the Commission’s objections. We do know, however, which parts of the directive have not been transposed on time. One of them is the obligation of member states to ensure that all new buildings are nearly zero-energy buildings by 31 December 2020 (Article 9). For buildings occupied by public authorities, the deadline is 31 December 2018.

Furthermore, we do not know any law which would oblige the Hungarian state to provide information to the building owners on the different methods to enhance the building’s energy performance, and on the purpose and use of energy performance certificates (Article 20). In the last few years, such information campaigns have mostly been launched by Energiaklub, as, in accordance with the directive, we consider informing the stakeholders crucial for the achievement of the energy saving targets.

Reasoned opinions have been sent to other 19 member states as well in 2013, and Portugal was already referred to the Court of Justice. The Commission proposed a daily penalty of €25 273.6 for Portugal, the final amount will be decided by the Court.

The directive requires member states to set minimum energy performance requirements for new and existing buildings subject to major renovation. The regulation’s purpose is that Members States minimize both the number of new buildings that waste energy as well as improperly renovated buildings. Hence, the EU's objectives correspond with our national interest, which means that the potential penalty is not the only reason for adopting the directive's measures.