* Law promises savings on carbon, energy, cheaper fuel
* Cost to energy companies estimated to be very low
* Objectors say new rules could curb growth, cost too much
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, June 4 EU president Denmark is
pressing European lawmakers and senior politicians to compromise
over an ambitious energy saving law designed to help meet a 2020
EU target to cut consumption by a fifth, but which critics say
would stifle growth.
Denmark made energy efficiency a priority for its six-month
tenure at the head of the European Union and wants to nail down
an agreement before handing on to Cyprus at the end of June.
The law would enforce energy saving through measures such as
improved technologies and better insulation for public and
Supporters say it could lower energy bills and cut fuel
imports, which last year hit 315 billion euros ($389.43 billion)
for oil alone, according to the European Commission. But
opponents say the measures require investment upfront and are
Negotiations to agree a text, bringing together the European
Union's three decision-making bodies - the Commission, the
Parliament and the Presidency, representing the member states -
resume on Tuesday, with a final round expected on June 13.
"We still believe an agreement is possible that would make a
significant contribution," a source close to the Danish
"But we need everybody including the European parliament to
show flexibility at this stage."
Many in Brussels believe the 27-nation bloc will only
achieve cuts in energy use of around 10 percent by the end of
this decade. Supporters of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED)
pushed by Denmark say it will help get the European Union back
on track to achieve the 20 cut target, provided a sufficiently
ambitious text can be agreed.
However, member states are reluctant to invest in the
current climate of austerity, even if it would result in
Britain opposes what it sees as unnecessary regulation and,
together with nations such as Austria and Germany, argues that
savings already made should taken into account as well as any
new ones, EU sources say.
According to the Commission, improved efficiency could
create around half a million jobs and boost the economy by 34
billion euros ($45 billion) in Gross Domestic Product by 2020.
It has also put the cost to the energy companies at only one
euro cent for every kilowatt hour of energy saved.
Research released on Monday suggested the Commission's
figures were too timid on the benefits of improving the bloc's
2020 energy saving - from the 10 percent expected under
business-as-usual to 20 percent under the proposed law.
"Put simply, for every one euro of energy cost saving, an
additional one euro could be saved due to lower energy prices,"
Dutch consultancy Ecofys said.
"Therefore net annual cost savings of the order of 100
billion euros can be expected on top of the 107 billion that
will result from implementing cost-effective energy savings
In addition, Ecofys predicted consumers would benefit from
cheaper energy, as lower demand and less need to invest in major
infrastructure upgrades should help to drive down prices.
($1 = 0.8089 euros)
(Editing by Jon Boyle)