April 13. 2024. 5:20

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Italian right-wing slam EU Green Homes Directive

Italian right-wing parties are united against the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and call on the government to show its opposition in negotiations with the European Parliament following a vote set for Tuesday in Strasbourg.

Controversy over the text has been mounting in Italy since the Industry, Research and Energy (Itre) committee gave its first greenlight on 9 February. The text approved by the ITRE committee is the result of a compromise between the European People’s Party (EPP/Forza Italia), Socialists & Democrats (S&D/Democratic Party), Renew Europe (Italia Viva/Azione) and the European Greens.

It calls for energy efficiency targets for buildings to be strengthened compared to what was initially proposed by the European Commission but provides more flexibility for member states in individual national renovation plans. Derogations are provided for buildings of special architectural or historical value, churches and places of worship.

“The derogations provided in the text on the ballot are insufficient in mitigating the ruinous impact that the legislation will create on the Italian economic and social fabric,” Lega MEP Isabella Tovaglieri told EURACTIV Italy.

According to Tovaglieri, the exemptions provided are the ones that have always existed for this type of legislation, and the only new element is the possibility for each state not to apply the legislation on 22% of the building stock, for social housing or for buildings on which technically there is more difficulty in carrying out a renovation.

“Since in Italy, according to the requirements of the directive, about 70% of the public and private building stock should be renovated within ten years, taking away 22% represents a mere content from the Greens to the other political groups that in no way changes our overall, highly critical judgement toward this umpteenth ‘eurofolly’,” Tovaglieri explained.

According to estimates based on the EU Commission’s proposal, Italy may have to renovate 3.1 to 3.7 million residential buildings by 2033 out of a total of 12 million. The number, however, could be lower not only because of possible changes to the text made in the European Parliament but also because the number of buildings included in the exemptions will have to be calculated.

However, according to data from Confedilizia, a long-standing organisation of homeowners, at least nine million buildings out of 12.2 million would not comply with the EU directive. According to the organisation, the directive would result in costly renovations and devaluation properties in the lowest energy class.

In Italy, criticism from politicians and trade associations focuses mainly on funding, which would be insufficient to make buildings efficient.

The European Union, according to Tovaglieri, should focus on what it can do in terms of concrete incentives to achieve “such ambitious goals”, instead of proceeding with “impositions all borne by member states and, in cascade, by citizens and businesses.”

“In the specific case of Italy’s real estate assets, a Copernican revolution of the measure would be needed”, she added, proposing as an alternative solution the shifting of duties by a few years to have “a minimal chance” of achieving “almost utopian” efficiency goals.

The Lega group in the European Parliament proposes the total rejection of the European Commission’s proposal and calls for a fresh start on a different basis and with a “more balanced” attitude on the issue of building renovation.

In the Itre committee, Fratelli d’Italia (ECR) and Lega (ID) voted against the directive, while Forza Italia (EPP) voted in favour of the left-wing groups.

“We expect Italian MEPs from all sides to follow us on the issue, aware of the scenario we have in our country, and also from the rest of Europe because the problem of such a dastardly rule also affects other countries, France and Spain to name two”, Tovaglieri clarified.

After the green light from the Strasbourg plenary, the text will reach the EU Council for further negotiations.

“We are confident that the current government will pay the utmost attention to this issue because it impacts, almost like no other European legislation before, an extensive range of citizens, and therefore uses all the levers available in the Council,” Tovaglieri said.

Both Fratelli d’Italia and the League have submitted motions to the Italian parliament against the directive with the aim of committing the government to oppose the European measure under discussion in Brussels.

“The home of the Italians is sacred and it cannot be Europe that changes the rules”, Tovaglieri concluded.

(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)