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Barry Andrews MEP offers support for Green MEP’s proposal amid fears of right wing resistance on crucial vote

Barry Andrews, the Fianna Fáil MEP representing Dublin, has voiced his endorsement for Green MEP Ciaran Cuffe's report on the proposal for a directive on the energy performance of buildings. The critical vote on this proposal is scheduled for today, March 11th, in Strasbourg.

Expressing the significance of garnering cross-group support for the report, which forms part of the Fit for 55 package, Andrews emphasised its pivotal role in shaping the vision for achieving a zero-emission building stock by 2050.

“The current EU building stock is responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of energy-related direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. This legislation stands as a crucial initiative for both the European Union and Ireland in meeting their climate targets. Ciaran has presented a thorough and forward-thinking report that will guarantee the construction of sustainable housing in the years to come.”

The proposed report aims to achieve a zero-emission building stock by 2050 through measures such as setting new standards for energy performance, ensuring all new buildings are zero-emission by 2030, and upgrading existing buildings to higher efficiency classes by specified deadlines. Member States are required to develop national renovation plans, while incentives for fossil fuel use will be phased out.

“The report has progressive elements to it that will offer financial support to alleviate energy poverty and to support social housing, and to shield tenants from disproportionate rent levels following renovation.”

Stressing the importance of transcending political divides for such crucial legislation, Andrews stated “I have been actively seeking backing for this legislation within my own group, Renew, recognising its significance in transcending political divisions.”

Anticipating resistance from right-wing factions within the European Parliament, Andrews noted the opposition from groups such as ID and ECR during committee-level negotiations, citing their amendments aimed at diminishing renovation ambition and delaying the phasing out of fossil fuels in heating systems.

Concluding, Andrews referenced his 2023 paper, "Delivering on Housing in Ireland: A European Policy Perspective," Andrews sees this legislation as complementing the 19 policy options outlined in his paper, inspired by other European states, as well as EU-level European interventions to address housing issues faced in Ireland.

“As I argued in my paper, reducing energy bills is also part and parcel of meeting housing need. And while I sincerely hope that this legislation leads to an uptick in renovations, we must remember that our immediate concern must be ensuring that people have a place to live and there is sufficient supply to meet existing housing demand”.

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