Page 11 - European Energy Innovation - Summer 2016 publication
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Summer 2016 European Energy Innovation     11

                                                   ENERGY CONSUMERS

should have the interests of EU citizens  through practices of energy self-
at its core and the energy transition     production and increased initiatives
should result in a more decentralised     towards energy-efficiency. This includes
and democratic energy system -            reducing the administrative barriers to
benefiting society as a whole. That is    self-generation capacity and replacing
why I am particularly pleased that this   lengthy authorisation procedures with
year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week will    simpler notification requirements.
focus on consumers.                       It also means promoting the
                                          development of demand-response and
More immediately, in July                 smart technologies while making sure
the Commission presented a                that the most vulnerable and those who
Communication entitled ‘Delivering        do not have easy access to information
a New Deal for Energy Consumers’,         or technology are not left behind.
underlining the key issues facing our
retail energy markets and the obstacles   All these changes are underpinned by
consumers face as the energy sector       my desire to tackle and address the
transforms throughout Europe.             growing problem of energy poverty
                                          throughout Europe. Currently over
Five years after the Third Energy         50 million citizens in Europe struggle
Package, its aim of providing a truly     to pay their energy bills and it is our
competitive and consumer-friendly         collective responsibility to assist them.
retail market has not yet been realised.  In 2016, no one should have to choose
Consumers are still paying too much       between heating, cooling and eating.
for their energy bills and are stuck on   I believe that we can only bring down
outdated and expensive tariffs. We        energy bills if we coordinate our efforts
need to fight for more transparency       at regional, national and European
and clarity on bills whilst making it     levels. Recently, in the Anti-Poverty
easier for all consumers, including       Target Report, the European Parliament
those who do not have access to           called on the Commission to develop a
the internet, to compare offers and       common definition of energy poverty.
switch energy suppliers free of charge.   We are now waiting for action from
Similarly, we need to fight for a ban on  the Commission and suggestions in
unfair commercial practices, including    the upcoming legislative package,
aggressive marketing techniques over      including in the Energy Efficiency
the phone and on the doorstep, often      Directive, Energy Performance of
targeted at the most vulnerable and our   Buildings Directive and Energy Market
elderly citizens.                         Design.

To be successful, Europe needs            The next step is to ensure that the
to continue the transition from a         Parliament’s recommendations are
centralised system based on fossil        incorporated into all the relevant
fuels to one which is decentralised,      upcoming legislative texts - thus
flexible and increasingly based on        ensuring a genuine New Deal for
renewables. We need to make sure that     citizens. In 2016, we must ensure that
citizens directly benefit and believe     consumers are central to the energy
that consumers should be supported        transition and empowered throughout
to take ownership of this transition      the process of change. l
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