Social Europe & Well-being

The Energy Poverty Task Force

Schneider Electric FoundationKBF




Energy poverty is defined as a situation where individuals or households are unable to adequately heat or provide other essential energy services to their homes at affordable cost. Energy poverty impacts people’s quality of life leading to possible health problems and at worst scenario even social exclusion. Reasons for energy poverty are manifold and include mounting inequalities, income poverty, unemployment, inefficient housing, wasteful use of energy, prices, access, and lack of clarity about pricing.

Energy poverty is a dimension of the poverty challenge in Europe, where nearly 11% of the EU's population are not able to adequately heat their homes at an affordable cost. The tools for addressing the challenge on a national or regional level can vary from direct financial interventions to promoting energy efficiency and enhancing consumer awareness with price comparisons and transparent billing, however, more could be done to help the vulnerable consumers.

Identifying vulnerable consumers and putting measures in place to tackle energy poverty lie mainly with national or local authorities. However, the EU also has a role to play and instruments it can use, in line with the EU’s Energy Union objective to benefit the European consumer. For example, completing an internal energy market could help to tackle the issue by increasing competition, leading to lower energy prices and better services at lower cost. Another area for action are efforts to improve energy efficiency across the EU – the cheapest energy being the one not consumed.

Other instruments include collecting data, monitoring the situation, proposing measures to tackle poverty and energy efficiency, and using energy regulation and financial instruments. What more could/should the EU do to address energy poverty across the EU?

Relying on the support of the Schneider Electric Foundation and the King Baudouin Foundation, the EPC launched a Task Force that would aim to share experiences and best practices across the EU, evaluate the state of play of diverse policies that can help to tackle energy poverty, and explore what additional role the EU could play in helping to address the challenge. The work of the Task Force would comprise a series of meetings in 2016, and the results of the discussions and policy recommendations would be disseminated widely to policy-makers in Europe.

The Energy Poverty Task Force is an integral part of the EPC’s Social Europe & Well-being and Sustainable Prosperity for Europe Programmes. For further information, as well as to participate and support this initiative, please contact Marco Giuli at

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