The negotiations on reorganising the European energy market have entered the home straight. With the Directive and the Regulation on the internal electricity market, the ITRE Committee of the European Parliament, which is in charge of energy, adopted its final reports on 21 February 2018. These reports contain positive approaches to take up the fight against energy poverty in Europe.
For months, EU institutions have intensively debated the Energy Package “Clean Energy for all Europeans”, which was presented by the Commission in November 2016. It consists of eight legislative proposals, which range from the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive up to reviewing the electricity market. On 21 February 2018, the ITRE Committee of the European Parliament, which is in charge of energy, voted on the last still open reports, which means that the trialogue negotiations with the Council and the Commission on all dossiers can now begin.
The adopted Report on the Internal Electricity Market Directive provides for Member States to be committed to national action plans, whose objective it is to reduce the number of energy poor households. The Chamber of Labour welcomes this motion, as over the past years the number of people, who find it difficult to pay their monthly energy bills, has strongly increased. Apart from that, Member States are able charge this group of consumers with regulated electricity prices for another ten years. The Commission had wanted to abolish regulated electricity prices.
The Chamber of Labour expects that this motion will also be retained during the trialogue negotiations between Parliament, Council and Commission. The trialogue may be started without any further vote in the plenum of the Parliament, as the ITRE Committee has given the Rapporteur the direct mandate to start the trialogue negotiations on the internal electricity market design. This direct negotiating mandate has to be regarded as positive, as the plenum vote in the Report on the Energy Efficiency Directive in January 2018 had resulted in watered down efficiency targets - compared to the actual position of the ITRE Committee .
The Commission had already increasingly placed its focus on energy poverty ahead of the negotiations. Hence, the European Pillar of Social Rights, which was proclaimed by EU institutions in Gothenburg in November 2017, also has the objective to ensure that all people in the EU have access to essential services. This explicitly also includes the supply of energy. People in need shall be given support to access to these services.
By referring to the ongoing negotiations on the Energy Package as well as the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Commission presented in January 2018 the Energy Poverty Observatory project. This is an internet platform, whose purpose it is to provide an overview over all relevant Information on energy poverty. These range from compiling statistical materials up to listing concrete measures, which were set in the Member States. Apart from that, they are to make networking and exchanging information and experiences between different actors easier. However, to ensure that this platform is definitely used by decision-makers, it is important that Member States will be committed to determine measures. Otherwise, the platform will run the risk that it is only used by those, who are interested and committed to this issue in any case.