EU Publishes Recommendations to Tackle Energy Poverty
The European Commission has published a series of recommendations on measures and policies that can be adopted by EU countries to tackle energy poverty. Energy poverty affects citizens across every EU country. In 2022, high energy prices together with the cost-of-living crisis meant that an estimated 9.3% of Europeans were unable to keep their homes adequately warm, compared to 6.9% in 2021.
Investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy are among the structural measures included in the Recommendation. These measures are designed to have a long-lasting impact, addressing the root causes of energy poverty such as the low energy performance of homes and household appliances, high energy expenditure in proportion to household budgets and lower income levels, which have been exacerbated by inflation.
The Recommendation is accompanied by a Staff Working Document which contains a more detailed analysis of the recommended measures. Following the recently adopted revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive which includes, for the first time, an EU-wide definition of energy poverty, the recommendation also outline how energy poverty can be diagnosed at national level.
Both documents point to the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs), as well as The Social Climate Plans, as opportunities for EU countries to reflect the recommendations in their policy framework to combat energy poverty. The EU legal framework requires that energy poverty is identified and tackled in the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) of each EU country, due to be updated in 2024. EU countries must draft and submit their Social Climate Plans to the Commission by 30 June 2025 in order to avail of the Social Climate Fund.
The publication of the Recommendation and Staff Working Document follows extensive consultations carried out by the Commission with Member States and with stakeholders including consumer and civil society organisations, trade unions, anti-poverty groups, social housing providers, environmental campaigners, health organisations, energy cooperatives and energy providers.
EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, said, ‘Energy poverty is not a new phenomenon in the EU – moving beyond crisis response measures, we must address its root causes so that we overcome it in an effective and sustainable way. Today’s Recommendation focuses on long-term structural measures such as ensuring access to energy efficient housing and appliances as well as renewables, which will help drive Europe’s clean energy transition while ensuring that nobody gets left behind.’