(22 February 2018) This week the European Parliament voted its position on the electricity market directive, missing the last opportunity to include a comprehensive definition of energy poverty in the new 2030 EU Energy Package.
On Wednesday 21st of February, two amendments on energy poverty passed in the directive. The European Parliament, in its position, included new means to fight energy poverty, however, it failed to include a European definition of this issue.
In its position, the Parliament calls for Member States to define the concept of vulnerable customers, recognised as linked to energy poverty, and may ensure their protection through national social security systems. This furthers the narrative that energy poverty is a purely social problem in an unhelpful way, as it minimises energy policy’s potential role in alleviating it.
In terms of energy poverty, Member States would also have to take appropriate measures, to provide action plans to ensure that vulnerable consumers have access to energy.
Despite this, it has disappointedly ruled out concrete measures which would have protected vulnerable consumers, such as banning disconnections, and ensuring a minimum amount of energy for all, both of which would have effectively protected Europeans.
The Parliament’s position includes the definition of criteria to measure energy poverty, based on indicators such as low income, high energy expenditure and poor energy efficiency — which recognises the causes of the issue.
The Parliament’s position includes monitoring households in energy poverty, to analyze if people are sufficiently protected, to improve their protection where needed. However the action plans to tackle this issue should to be implemented short and long term and concrete timeframe detailing when each objective should be achieved are needed to ensure this.
Millions of households in the EU are living in energy poverty — and this issue should be urgently tackled. EPSU, with its allies in the Right2Energy coalition, will keep advocating for a fair and inclusive Energy Union in which all Europeans have access to affordable and clean energy.