Tuesday

24th Apr 2018

EU tries to measure 'energy poverty' - without defining it

  • EU commissioner Maros Sefcovic (2nd from right): 'we do not attempt to create a universal definition of energy poverty' (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission launched a website on Monday (29 January) aimed at providing insights into the issue of energy poverty - but without defining what 'energy poverty' means.

"The launch of the Energy Poverty Observatory marks an important milestone in our struggle for a more just, solidarity, and inclusive Europe," said EU commissioner for Energy Union, Maros Sefcovic in Brussels.

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 went on to say that two out of three EU member states do not define or measure energy poverty, and that the context in which energy poverty occurred varied between countries.

"That is why we do not attempt to create a universal definition of energy poverty. We rather opted for a description of the term," said Sefcovic.

"This will allow us to continue working together, addressing energy poverty across borders and learn from each other's experience – based on a common understanding that we all share," he added.

That description, on the observatory website, reads, "Energy poor households experience inadequate levels of these essential energy services, due to a combination of high energy expenditure, low household incomes, inefficient buildings and appliances, and specific household energy needs."

But this course of action raises questions: if there is no common European definition of energy poverty, then what use is analysing it at an EU level?

Undefined since 2008

The European Parliament has been asking for an EU-wide definition for at least a decade.

On 19 June 2008, MEPs adopted a text calling on the commission "to define the notion of energy poverty".

Almost ten years later, several MEPs repeated that request.

"We have to define once and for all, what energy poverty means across our member states," said British centre-left MEP Theresa Griffin.

"How can you solve a problem if you don't even agree on what is the problem?" added Luxembourgish Greens MEP Claude Turmes.

Bulgaria's deputy energy minister Zhecho Stankov – present at the launch because his country holds the rotating six-month EU presidency – also said a common definition was needed.

But the team behind the Energy Poverty Observatory, presenting their website on Monday after a year of preparation, said that the issue was complex.

"It was not possible also for us to find one single indicator to measure throughout Europe with a 'one size fits all' approach," said Johannes Thema, project coordinator.

"What we decided in the end was opting to cover four indicators that intend to measure some dimensions of energy poverty," he added.

These included how often respondents to surveys have said that in the past year their household had been unable to pay utility bills on time.

This website asked whether it was useful to compare these indicators if there was no common understanding of what energy poverty is.

"It is a very valid question, and one that we asked ourselves," said Anna Colucci, head of unit retail markets at the commission, who chaired one of the presentations on Monday.

She noted that in a recently proposed piece of EU legislation, member states would be required to define what energy poverty meant.

"So far we are in a negotiation process and we will see. But in parallel to that we wanted the observatory to already start working," Colucci said.

The legislative file is being negotiated by representatives of the commission, the parliament, and the national governments.

The commission initially proposed that member states laid down "national objectives with regards to energy poverty, including the number of households in energy poverty".

MEPs added another requirement. They want the commission to "adopt a common methodology for member states to define energy poverty".

EU to tackle 'energy poverty'

The Commission wants to focus on "vulnerable consumers" but concedes that there will be differences in needs across the bloc.

Merkel: Nord Stream 2 is 'political'

Germany has for the first time acknowledged concerns on the "political" and "strategic" aspects of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions

Washington would still like to block a planned gas pipeline between Russia and Germany but is not yet considering hitting companies involved in the project.

Magazine

Bioeconomy is a win-win strategy for Finland

"The big problem in the world today is a lack of resources and a lack of bio-diversity," says Finnish environment minister Kimmo Tiilikainen. His country plans to produce what the world needs the most.

Merkel: Nord Stream 2 is 'political'

Germany has for the first time acknowledged concerns on the "political" and "strategic" aspects of Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

News in Brief

  1. Far-right attack migrants on Greek island
  2. Merkel defends accepting UN refugees
  3. EU commissioner plans Malta 'money laundering' inspection
  4. Survey: Half of high polluting farms receive CAP subsidies
  5. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  6. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  7. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  8. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  4. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  6. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  7. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  8. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight

Latest News

  1. Spanish navy makes bid for EU anti-pirate HQ
  2. How Russian propaganda depicts Europe - should we worry?
  3. MEPs tell Chinese ambassador of concerns on trade
  4. Greenland votes with eye on independence
  5. EU court delivers blow to anti-abortion activists
  6. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack
  7. European Commission proposes whistleblower protection law
  8. Secrecy of VW fraud report 'unacceptable', says MEP

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  3. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  6. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  7. European Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  8. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  9. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  10. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  11. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations