EU Energy Poverty Observatory: Yet another empty shell?

By Floriane Cappelletti on 8 February 2018

On 29 January, the European Commission launched its Energy Poverty Observatory, resulting from a 40-month project implemented by a consortium of 13 organisations, including universities, advocacy groups, think tanks, and the business sector. A helpful tool to fight against energy poverty... or another empty shell?

With an opening panel composed of Vice-President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič, MEP Jerzy Buzek, Theresa Griffin and Claude Turmes, and moderated by EU Director-General for Energy Dominique Ristori, the European Commission put on a great spread for the launch event of its Energy Poverty Observatory.

EU Commission Vice-President Šefčovič has great ambitions for this platform, that not only aims at "collecting data but should also actively engage with national and local stakeholders", "push Member States to clearly define energy poverty and to report every two year".

If no common definition of energy poverty seems necessary to the Commission, MEP Theresa Griffin and Claude Turmes have a different opinion. "How can we solve a problem if we do not agree on what is the problem?", the latter asked.

At least, everyone on the stage agreed that energy poverty is an issue to be urgently tackled. MEP Jerzy Buzek shared his concern about his birth country (Poland), where "half of all vulnerable households are not poor in terms of income, but have to put over 10% of their income in heating only." "We know that some in society struggle to pay the bills", MEP Griffin added.

Arrears on utility bills - Source: SILC, HS020/HS021 (Click on the image to enlarge)

Besides bringing together the disparate sources of data and knowledge that exist across the EU, the Energy Poverty Observatory provides some encouraging features, such as a ’Knowledge and Resources’ section where best-practices, policy measures and training materials are shared, and a forum (open to all through a free membership scheme) enabling networking between a great variety of stakeholders and different governance levels.

Energy Cities counts a great number of member cities who are taking bold measures to tackle energy poverty. We can only agree that networking and sharing best practices - which is our raison d’être - is key to solving such burning issues. We’ll be following the work and results of this Observatory, as, just like Theresa Griffin, we are convinced that "our collective good intention needs consolidated action to make a difference for our citizens."

Discover what Energy Cities’ members are doing to fight energy poverty in our cities’ actions database.

© image pogonici -

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