Energy poverty is a widespread and even growing reality across Europe. The EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU SILC) measured in 2013 that 10.7% of the population (approximately 54 million people) are apparently unable to afford basic levels of energy for essential needs.
Energy poverty is falling between several major policy fields (social, health, education, environment, financial, productivity) and involves many stakeholders from all of these fields. Energy Poverty should therefore be addressed in an integrated manner to optimise multiple benefits, including less money spent by governments on health, reduced air pollution, better comfort and wellbeing, improved household budgets, and increased economic activity.
Member States have so far been responsible for addressing energy poverty and have done so by boosting household income through social tariffs, social welfare subsidies and regulated energy prices. This has been an effective short-term solution but is increasingly criticized for not addressing the root of the cause, and for distorting the increasingly liberalized market.
Until now, energy poverty has barely featured in EU policy or linked debates. At the forefront has been the continued deepening of the internal market, through liberalisation and privatisation. Today the main focus lies with the energy transition, which has the potential of increasing the living standards for all, especially the energy poor, but only if managed well.
Will the Clean Energy Package together with the mandate granted to the newly launched EU Energy Poverty Observatory be able to sufficiently engage and coordinate all stakeholders (both state and non-state actors) in designing ways to address energy poverty in Europe
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