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When ESOS isn’t ESOS – your energy obligations in the EU

Are you obligated to conduct energy audits in other European countries?

Many UK businesses will by now be aware of their obligations under the UK Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme, or ESOS – perhaps your organisation is already well underway to becoming compliant with the new regulations.

But have you considered that you may also be obligated to conduct energy audits in other European countries where your company has a legal and operational presence?

Implementation across the EU

ESOS is the UK implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive 2012/27/EU, Article 8. This article outlines requirements for large companies to conduct energy audits and implement energy management systems.

EU member states were required to transpose this article and other provisions into national law by 5 June 2014. Interestingly, to date only 19 out of the 28 member states have implemented the directive.

How do the EU directives impact UK companies?

In short, if you have an operational presence in another European country – be it a subsidiary or other legal entity – you may have an obligation under the national legislation regarding energy audits.

To complicate matters, obligation thresholds and requirements differ from country to country – and from the UK.

I know ESOS - surely it’s the same requirement in all other countries?

Unfortunately not. As experience with other EU directives (like WEEE for example) has taught us – there may be one directive, but there are 28 different ways of implementing it. This often leads to confusion amongst companies about exactly who is obligated to do what.

Looking at the transposition so far, there are some differences from the requirements as we know them under ESOS – depending on the country’s implementation.

Different compliance deadlines

ESOS has a compliance deadline of 5 December 2015. Some countries, like Austria and Belgium (Flanders), have an earlier deadline (30 November and 01 December) by which an audit needs to be conducted.

Definition of a SME varies

ESOS obligates large undertakings (non-SMEs by EU definition). The EU has provided a definition of SMEs by number of employees, annual turnover and balance sheet. However, two countries (Croatia and Slovenia) have a narrower scope when defining SMEs.

In addition, six member states (Malta, Denmark, Italy, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Romania) have adopted specific energy consumption criteria when defining a company’s obligation.

Alternative criteria for energy assessors

ESOS requires an approved professional lead assessor and several European countries have strict qualification criteria for auditors. These could include academic degrees in a related technical subject, several years’ professional experience and, in the case of Austria, a rating scheme by which auditors must acquire a minimum amount before they can conduct audits.

And finally…

There are further deviations in audit scope, record keeping obligations and ISO standards accepted for exemption.

What to do next?

We understand the difficulties in trying to keep up with Europe – why not talk to us for more guidance? We can offer advice on European legislation and create tailor-made support solutions to suit your needs. Contact our team now for more information.


Fran Witthuhn

International compliance product manager

Fran works within the compliance team as our international compliance product manager, joining us in the spring of 2015. She brings a wealth of experience to the role having previously work for Apple in Ireland for six years, looking after the company’s WEEE, battery and packaging submissions across Europe. Needless to say she has gained extensive knowledge of European legislation!


Written by Fran Witthuhn Published 10/08/2015 Topics Compliance

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