Over 50 million EU citizens are living in energy poverty and Socialists and Democrats want the new strategy for an Energy Union to bring solutions for them. This is why during the plenary debate with the Commission this evening, the S&D Group will call for EU energy policy to bring in the social dimension.
S&D vice-president Kathleen Van Brempt said:
"The energy transition that we envisage is sustainable and puts people centre stage. Consumers, including the most vulnerable ones, can and should obtain the benefits. This means enabling them to know and control their energy use via transparent billing and awareness raising, as well as through boosting micro-generation, demand response programmes and collective schemes.
"We want public money to be invested in smart, innovating projects, providing quality housing, including for the most vulnerable families, so that their energy bill will be reduced, their living conditions improved, and innovative companies developing energy-efficient technologies and materials will be supported.
"Energy policy must take into account, like all EU policies, social aspects and contribute to fighting poverty and social exclusion."
Theresa Griffin, S&D MEP and author of the report on 'A New Deal for Energy Consumers’ to be voted on tomorrow, said:
"Millions of citizens in the EU are being kept on outdated energy contracts, also known as sleeping contracts, which often require large termination fees when switching to a cheaper supplier.
"This is the equivalent of paying for dialup internet when you can buy broadband for half the price and twice the speed. What's even worse is that energy suppliers are paying less for wholesale energy and are not passing on savings to consumers - it's unacceptable.
"That is why we are calling for the end of termination fees so consumers can switch to a cheaper supplier without cost. We want straight-forward bills that contain consumer empowering information. We want energy regulators to work with energy suppliers and price comparison organisations to deliver information direct to consumers."
S&D spokesperson on Energy, Dan Nica MEP, said:
"The Commission should develop a strong and comprehensive approach to energy poverty, supporting member states’ strategies to tackle the problem, identifying good practices and supporting information exchange. One way would be to develop a database of measures used by different member states, relating to vulnerable consumer protection and energy poverty.
"Energy poverty is a complex and multi-level challenge, so there is a need for targeted consumer protection measures. Local authorites, National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) and energy companies could play a critical role. Nevertheless, a common European approach is needed to find long-term solutions for consumers and for our industry to have acces to affordable energy."
Find out more on our work to end energy poverty here.