EU Member States have been encouraged to introduce energy efficiency obligation schemes (EEOS) to help meet energy saving objectives. As a result, there are now sixteen EU EEOS in existence or planned, compared with just six prior to the introduction of the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive. At the same time, the long-standing EEOS in Denmark and UK have faced challenges because of concerns over increasing costs. This paper considers the role of EEOS in current and future EU and national policy: can established EEOS continue to deliver significant savings; will new schemes meet their targets; and will EEOS have an important future role?

This analysis builds on research for the EU Commission, International Energy Agency (IEA), European Parliament, and an EU project (ENSPOL). Firstly, this paper sets out in more detail the place of EEOS in EU energy policy. Then the future of longer-established EEOS is explored, with case studies presented for the UK and Denmark. Recent and planned re-designs in these two countries are detailed, with analysis of the factors which led to changes in policy ambition. For new EEOS, key risks to delivery of savings are an over-ambitious delivery target and time line in the absence of policy learning opportunities. These risks can be mitigated by either having a preliminary or voluntary phase, or by adopting policy design from another country. The policy risk for nine EEOS is assessed, and the conclusion is that savings are at most risk in Croatia, Latvia, and Spain.

The paper concludes with an analysis of EEOS within the future policy mix. The discussion considers the place of EEOS in EU policy, future savings from EEOS, their relationship with energy companies and the possible influence of different framings of energy efficiency. Then thoughts about what it would take to not need EEOS as an option in the policy mix are presented, with concluding ideas about how to secure a strong and effective future for EEOS.