No country could be more fitting to negotiate a deal on the draft Energy Efficiency Directive than current EU President Denmark. The country is the inspiration behind the directive – the proof that economic growth can go hand-in-hand with reductions in energy use.
But the Danes seem to have caught 'Presidency Syndrome': the desire to make a deal at all costs, to look good politically, even if this means getting an unacceptably weak directive.
Throw a frog into boiling water, the story goes, and it will jump out. But if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated it will not perceive the danger and will be boiled to death.
This is just what is happening to the draft Energy Efficiency Directive. Each successive amendment from the European Council weakens the text a little more. Now the Council's version – a compilation of the most unambitious points from each member state – has almost reached junk status.
Friends of the Earth Europe, CAN Europe and 13 other NGOs and associations  are urging ministers to turn promises into action during the informal meeting of energy ministers in Horsens tomorrow (19th April). They must push for a binding 20% energy savings target, ensure a robust 1.5% annual savings obligation for energy companies, ensure deep renovation of buildings and develop national renovation roadmaps. This is the only way to ensure Europe embraces the benefits of energy savings.
On 8 April climate change minister Greg Barker told the Financial Times "We are working patiently and quietly behind the scenes with EU partners to convince them of the strong economic as well as environmental reasons why we should go for 30 per cent [greenhouse gas emission cuts] rather than 20 per cent".
Member States are rightly shunned by their peers for getting creative with budget deficit figures. So why is there so much support from national governments to apply the same methods to the EU's draft Energy Efficiency Directive?
Leaked documents from European Council meetings show that at least 12 out of 27 Member States are seeking to include 'early actions' in the Directive. If successful, they would be allowed to credit savings made before the implementation of the Directive (hence 'early action').
Brussels, February 28 – The European Parliament's Energy Committee (ITRE) voted today in favour of binding legislation to deliver Europe's target of 20% energy savings by 2020.
MEPs from all major parties reached an agreement to strengthen plans to reduce Europe's energy use  by supporting a binding 20% target and recommending tougher measures to save energy.
Final negotiations with national governments, which are less supportive of binding efficiency legislation, are expected to begin shortly.
The socio-economic benefits of energy savings have been highlighted in the run-up to decisions on the EU Energy Efficiency Directive with a national multi-media competition organised by Friends of the Earth Hungary.
People across Hungary were invited to submit creative ideas in a variety of media formats to illustrate the exciting, sexy and fun side to energy efficiency. Videos, posters, cartoons and music were created by nearly 80 applications and the winners were announced today.
As Denmark prepares to take over the presidency of the European Union in January for the first half of 2012, Friends of the Earth Europe has written a letter to the Danish Presidency calling on it to contribute to a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable future, for the people of Europe and other continents.
"The current global economic, financial, environmental and social crises present us with a challenge of historic proportions. Only an urgent, wide ranging and far reaching response can deal with this situation," the letter states.
Editor's note: The latest fashion in the debate on the energy efficiency directive is to call for energy intensity targets (i.e. the number of units of energy used to create a unit of GDP) instead of the established 20% reduction in energy consumption.
It is important to be aware of the vested interests behind this move – and we hope that these 'leaked extracts' from an unnamed MEP's private diary will shed some light on the matter!
Monday 21 November
Targeted public financial support for energy savings, mainly thermal insulation of buildings, creates jobs and increases economic activity across the Czech Republic, according to this latest study from Friends of the Earth Czech Republic and CEE Bankwatch. Over 60 percent of the Czech Republic's current energy consumption could be saved through energy efficiency measures in the building sector - tackling both oil and gas dependency and environmental pollution.