Monthly Archives: January 2015

Europe’s Energy Efficiency Targets

euThe European Union’s (EU) Member States are required to draft National Energy Efficiency Plans (NEEAPs) that report on adopted measures (or planned to be adopted) to implement the main elements of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED, 2012/27/EU). All EU countries are required to achieve a certain amount of final energy savings over the period (01 January 2014 – 31 December 2020) by using energy efficiency obligations schemes or other targeted policy measures to drive energy efficiency improvements in households, industries and transport sectors. The Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) entered into force on the 4th December 2012 in order to establish a common framework of measures for energy efficiency within the EU. EED laid down specific rules to remove barriers in the energy market and to overcome certain market failures that impede energy efficiency. It also provides for the establishment of indicative national energy efficiency targets for 2020. All the EU-28 countries are urged to use energy more efficiently at all stages of the energy chain – from the transformation of energy, through its distribution until its final consumption.

EED measures may also translate to significant energy savings for consumers. For instance, this directive proposed that consumers ought to access easy and free-of-charge data on their real-time (and historical) energy consumption to enable them to monitor their energy consumption patterns. Moreover, this directive also recommended that large enterprises should carry out an energy audit at least every four years, with the first energy assessment should be held before the 5th December 2015. It also suggested that SMEs could be incentivised to undergo energy audits to help them identify the potential for reduced energy consumption. As from the 1st January 2014, the directive advised the public sector to lead by example by renovating 3% of the buildings owned and occupied by the central governments and by including energy efficiency considerations in public procurement. EED has even set realistic deadlines for further improvements in energy efficiencies in energy generation, the monitoring of efficiency levels of new energy generation capacities, national assessments for co-generation and district heating potential and measures.

It goes without saying that the requirements laid down in the EED directive are minimum requirements that do not prevent any Member State from maintaining or introducing more stringent measures. As from 2013, every member state have to report on the progress achieved towards national energy efficiency targets in accordance with Part 1 of Annex XIV.

Links:

EU (2012) DIRECTIVE on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32012L0027

 

 

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The EU’s directive on the disclosure of non-financial information

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On the 29th September 2014, the European Council has introduced amendments to Accounting Directive (2013/34/EU) that mandates corporate business to disclose their non-financial performance. The EU Commission proposed non-binding guidelines on the details of what non-financial information ought to be disclosed by big businesses operating from by EU countries. This legislation respects environmental, human rights, anti-corruption and bribery matters as expressed in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the “Ruggie Principles”) and OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (ECCJ, 2014).

This recent EU directive has marked a step forward towards the hardening of human rights obligations for large “public interest entities” with more than 500 employees. At the moment there are approximately 6,000 large undertakings and groups across the EU. Public interest entities include all the undertakings that are listed on an EU stock exchange, as well as some credit institutions, insurance undertakings and other businesses so designated by Member States.

In a nutshell, these non-financial disclosures should shed light on the corporate businesses’ social and environmentally responsible policies and practices. They will feature a brief description of the undertaking’s business model, including their due diligence processes resulting from their impact of their operations. This EU directive encourages corporates to use relevant non-financial key performance indicators on environmental matters including; greenhouse gas emissions, water and air pollution, the use of (non) renewable energy and on health and safety.

With regards to social and employee related matters, the corporate firms ought to implement ILO conventions that promote fair working conditions for employees. The corporate disclosure of non-financial information can include topics such as; social dialogue with stakeholders, information and consultation rights, trade union rights, health and safety and gender equality among other issues. Businesses should also explain how they are preventing human rights abuses and/or fighting corruption and bribery.

Through this directive the EU commission emphasises materiality and transparency in non financial reporting. It also brought up the subject of diversity at the corporate board levels. It has outlined specific reference criteria that may foster wider diversity in the composition of boards (e.g. age, gender, educational and professional background). The EU Commission has even suggested that this transparency requirement complements the draft directive about women on boards.

This new directive still allows a certain degree of flexibility in the disclosures’ requirements. As a matter of fact, it does not require undertakings to have policies covering all CSR matters. Yet, businesses need to provide a clear and reasoned explanation for not complying with this directive. Therefore, non-financial disclosures do not necessarily require comprehensive reporting on CSR matters (although this is encouraged by the Commission), but only the disclosure of information on policies, outcomes and risks (ECCJ, 2014). Moreover, this directive gives undertakings the option to rely on international, European or national frameworks (eg. the UN Global Compact, ISO 26000) in the light of the undertaking’s characteristics and business environment.

It is envisaged that the first CSR reports will be published in financial year 2017 (ECCJ, 2014).

Links:

http://ec.europa.eu/finance/accounting/non-financial_reporting/index_en.htm

http://business-humanrights.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/eccj-assessment-eu-non-financial-reporting-may-2104.pdf

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-301_en.htm?locale=en
 

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