According to a document seen by EURACTIV, Green MEP Ciaran Cuffe, the chief negotiator on the file, managed to wrestle a compromise that is more ambitious than the Commission’s initial proposal.
By 2027, lawmakers want all buildings owned by public bodies to achieve at least the energy performance class “E”, one grade higher than the Commission’s initial proposal. From 2030, they should reach “D”.
For residential buildings, the most sensitive aspect of the law, lawmakers wants to aim for class “E” by 2030 and class “D” by 2033, similarly being more ambitious than the EU executive.
But the support of the conservative EPP group came at a cost: lawmakers agreed to several derogations that allow EU countries to exempt their buildings from the mandatory renovation requirements for 10 years.
For instance, EU countries would be allowed to exempt publicly owned social housing, should renovations “not be cost neutral” or “lead to rent increases for people living in social housing that cannot be limited.”
Similarly, EU countries can apply to amend and water down their minimum standards for “reasons of economic and technical feasibility and the availability of skilled workforce,” although the European Commission must opt to accept or reject the request.
The Parliament’s tentative compromise deal also reads that these exemptions should be limited to 22% of buildings and can only be relied upon until 2037.
Additionally, lawmakers also opened the door to heating with hydrogen: when buildings are renovated or constructed, hybrid appliances running on gas and hydrogen would be exempted from a ban on fossil heating.
“This is a rhetorical trick to extend the operation of fossil gas boilers, with the consequence of artificially expanding the lifespan of gas infrastructure for a few decades,” explains Adeline Rochet, senior advisor at the green think-tank E3G.