If the EU wants to achieve its climate targets, there is no way around the renovation of office buildings and residential buildings. After all, buildings account for almost 40 percent of energy consumption and 36 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. In order for the EU to be climate-neutral in 2050, 2 percent of the 200 million existing properties would have to be energy-efficient refurbished every year, in fact it is much less, in Germany about 1 percent. The European Parliament therefore now wants to counteract this with a renovation obligation for buildings. Residential buildings are to achieve energy efficiency class E by 2030 and then at least D by 2033. For public buildings and offices, both are to apply three years earlier.

Hendrik Kafsack

Economic correspondent in Brussels.

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Jan Hauser

Editor in business.

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The European Parliament spoke out in favour of this on Tuesday in Strasbourg, thus tightening the corresponding proposal of the European Commission from the end of 2021. The result was clear with 343 votes in favour, 216 against and 78 abstentions. This was preceded by a fierce debate about whether the requirements for building renovation are the right way to reduce CO2 emissions. Criticism had been voiced by MEPs from the Union and FDP, but also representatives of the housing industry.

"A blanket renovation obligation does not do justice to the reality of life of many people," said CSU deputy Angelika Niebler after the vote. "In times of high energy prices, a shortage of skilled workers and inflation, it must not be the case that homeowners are forced to carry out energy-efficient renovations, especially since it is quite possible, especially in rural regions and peripheral areas, that these are not economically viable." The decision is also superfluous that the building sector will fall under emissions trading in the future.

Shortage of skilled workers and building materials

This means that owners have to pay for the CO2 emissions of their buildings. This should encourage them to reduce energy consumption on their own. Now to swing the regulatory club "is therefore the completely wrong approach," emphasized the FDP deputy Andreas Glück. Crucial questions such as financing, but also the problems caused by a lack of skilled workers and building materials remained unanswered. However, luck clearly failed with an application for far-reaching exceptions to the restructuring requirements. Whether the requirements will endure at the end of the legislative process is still open. In the Council of Ministers, the Member States have only spoken out in favour of the much less ambitious target that all residential buildings must reach Class D on average by 2033. In order for the EU law to enter into force, the two EU institutions must agree on a common position.

The SPD, the Greens and, in addition to the FDP and CDU, the liberal and Christian Democratic parliamentary groups welcomed the compromise previously negotiated across party lines. It already provides for numerous exceptions to the obligation to remediate. Historical, protected or architecturally special buildings are excluded. In addition, states can exempt up to 22 percent of the remaining building stock, for example if there are not enough workers for the renovation work or the work would be extremely expensive. According to Commission estimates, half of the 45 percent of the stock that would have to be renovated in order to achieve energy efficiency class D remains. In fact, only just under 23 percent of the stock would have to be renovated. However, this corresponds to the goal of renovating 2 percent of the portfolio annually in terms of energy efficiency.