For a long time, the topic of energy efficiency has been overshadowed by the highly regarded topic of renewable energy in both politics and environmental policy research which was granted far more attention. This is surprising, especially as energy efficiency can contribute to solving a wide range of energy policy challenges that the European Union (EU) is facing. Although the Union's total energy demand slowly decreases, its energy dependence is on the rise. Conflicting economic and ecological interests are slowing down the modernization agenda in the energy sector that is aiming at sustainability. At the same time, rising energy costs limit the domestic as well as foreign policy discretion. Through energy efficiency, emissions will be conserved, energy prices will decrease in the medium term and geostrategic import dependencies will be reduced. A decoupling of economic growth, increasing energy needs and ecological damage seems possible.
With the adoption of the EU's Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27 / EU), the goal to increase energy efficiency by 20 percent till 2020 is clearly set. Half of the hitherto planned emissions savings are supposed to be realized on the basis of the Directive. The process seems remarkable: A supranational community regulates the economic development of its members and agrees on legally binding rules to increase energy efficiency and to limit energy consumption. What led to this development? How did the energy efficiency policy of the European multi-level system develop in the recent past? What criteria determined the choice of legal instruments? What resources and methods of the different advocacy coalitions had influence on the legislative process? And how will the Directive be implemented in the EU member states.
By using a policy analysis of the agenda setting, the negotiation process, the content, and the implementation of the Directive, cross-institutional action patterns and functional linkages will be worked out in regards to relevant policy areas. Policy-oriented learning and the positions of the actors involved are analyzed based on the "Advocacy Coalition Framework". The findings on conditions for success and obstacles in the process shall contribute to a better understanding of the future development of this particular policy area and at the same time identify transferable action patterns of the lobbies.