The proposed target goes beyond the 25 per cent energy saving target which would be required to achieve a 40 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030 and “aims to strike the right balance between benefits and costs”.
The 2020 energy efficiency target was set at 20 per cent, and the EC estimated that for every additional 1 per cent in energy savings, EU gas imports would fall by 2.6 per cent, decreasing dependence on external suppliers.
Günther Oettinger, vice president of the EU Commission responsible for energy, said: “Our proposal is the basis to drive the EU towards increased security of supply, innovation and sustainability, all in an affordable way.
“It is ambitious and at the same time it is realistic. The energy efficiency strategy will complete the 2030 framework on energy and climate which has been presented in January 2014.
“Our aim is to give the right signal to the market and encourage further investments in energy saving technologies to the benefit of businesses, consumers and the environment.”
The target has been criticised by Greenpeace who said it should be increased to 40% compared to 1990 levels.
“It’s a no-brainer and ministers should get fully behind it,” said Greenpeace UK political director Ruth Davis.
“The UK government presented itself as a driving force beyond the emergency plan to get the EU off energy imports, so it’s hard to grasp why they are not pushing for the one policy that can at one stroke boost our energy security, lower bills, and cut carbon emissions,” she added.
The EU is behind target for 2020, with it’s target to achieve 18-19% by the end of the decade. However, it added that the agreed target of 20 per cent can be reached if all EU countries fully implement the already agreed legislation and the EC called on the member states to “step up their efforts” to reach the 2020 target.