Friday

24th Nov 2017

EU to tackle 'energy poverty'

  • Electricity companies should not switch off electricity unannounced if consumers cannot pay the bill, the commissioner said (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission wants to help reduce energy poverty in Europe, but will not attempt to create a common definition of the concept.

The commission is proposing a bundle of legislation related to its Energy Union project on Wednesday (30 November), which has a “quite strong focus on vulnerable consumers and on energy poverty”, according to the responsible commissioner, Maros Sefcovic.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He said the issue of energy poverty had been raised in every EU country he has visited in the last year.

He said that some 10 percent of Europeans are struggling to pay the bills that heat and cool their homes. He also noted that electricity supplies are being cut off too quickly.

“Today, without electricity, you cannot exist,” he told journalists on Tuesday during a briefing about Wednesday's package of measures.

“When we have seen the enormous high number of disconnections over the last years, even in very, very developed Western European countries, it is quite clear that before you are disconnected there should be certain procedures.”

“There should be some kind of plan how to help those people who are facing budgetary problems and not to proceed with automatic, unannounced switching off of the electricity supplies.”

He also said more EU money would be targeted towards projects that improve the energy efficiency of buildings, citing a renovation project in a social housing apartment bloc in Paris that received investment from the so-called Juncker fund, the commission's flagship economic tool.

“With that investment, each family, each household in that building was saving more than €1,000 per year,” Sefcovic said.

He pointed out that 75 percent of buildings in the EU were inefficient: “Very often, with a small investment, you can achieve quite significant energy savings.”

However, Sefcovic noted there was no “precise definition” for an "inefficient" building, making it difficult to quantify the success of the Energy Union project.

Specific situations

The same goes for the concept of energy poverty.

“The truth is that there is not a common definition of energy poverty. The situation is different from country to country,” said Sefcovic.

He said the commission would ask member states to “define the level of energy poverty for their specific situations”, and that it would set up an energy-poverty observatory.

But he signalled that a common definition was not the most important issue.

“What we, I think, will achieve through the focus on energy poverty is the fact that this would be acknowledged on the European level that we have a problem,” he said.

“That we have to monitor it, and that we have to work jointly how we are going to tackle it. That's something what was not so obvious just a year ago.”

EU tables energy 'mega-package'

Energy Union commissioner Maros Sefcovic calls on member states to rally behind a bundle of proposals to increase energy efficiency that runs to more than 1,000 pages.

EU still giving gas projects 'fast-track' status

The European Commission published on Friday a list of projects of common interest, which receive preferential treatment. Environmental lobbyists accuse the Commission of trying to fool the public with number games.

New EU law takes aim at Russia pipeline

Proposed law could complicate Russia's plan to build new gas pipeline to Germany, but jurisdictional issues mean project will be decided by Moscow and Berlin.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Germany remains 'active' in EU
  2. Work with Israel, Egypt on gas exploration, says Commission
  3. Only seven EU states have 'advanced' stage climate plans
  4. EU dashes integration hopes of eastern countries
  5. EU approves joint Irish electricity scheme
  6. German president to launch 'Grand Coalition' talks
  7. Irish opposition 'threatens national interest', says minister
  8. SPD drops opposition to grand coalition in Germany

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSU-Eurelectric-IndustriAllElectricity European Social Partners Stand up for Just Energy Transition
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSignature of CEPA Marks a Fresh Start for EU-Armenia Relations
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  4. European Friends of ArmeniaPresident Sargsyan Joined EuFoA Honorary Council Inaugural Meeting
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  6. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  7. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  8. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  9. EPSUStudy Finds TUNED and Employers in Central Governments Most Representative
  10. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  11. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  12. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition