Energy poverty

Contributing to the blog this week is Marine Cornelis, director and founder of Next Energy Consumer, EUSEW 2020 Digital Ambassador.

No one should be left in the dark, or live in a cold, damp house. However, energy poverty affects about 50 million people or 10% of the European population. In Europe, energy poverty comes a result of energy-inefficient buildings and appliances, high energy expenditures, low incomes and specific household needs. Energy poverty is at the crossroads of social, energy and climate issues, and goes far beyond having arrears on utility bills. It is not possible to reduce poverty without tackling energy poverty. However, it is still challenging to quantify the phenomenon precisely. The prevalence of certain indicators is specific to each country. Despite progress in recent years, in particular, with the adoption of the Clean Energy for All Package last year, and the creation of a European Energy Poverty Observatory in 2018, there is still no single integrated strategy at European level.

The Clean Energy for All Package now requires Member States to define energy poverty at the national level using “a set of criteria, which may include low income, high expenditure of disposable income on energy and poor energy efficiency”. By doing this, the EU aims to boost political commitment. At the national level, within the framework of the National Energy and Climate Plans, Member States must now closely monitor the phenomenon and set up integrated strategies to reduce it. At the local level, the Covenant of Mayor has been of the forefront of the fight, and many signatories cities are implementing ambitious measures to tackle energy poverty. One of the three pillars of the Covenant of Mayors’ vision for 2050 is to ensure “universal access to secure, sustainable and affordable energy”.

In parallel, the European Commission seeks to fund pan-European and socially innovative solutions that will help to reduce energy poverty in a long-term and sustainable way. In particular, through Horizon 2020, Europe is helping develop many innovative approaches, such as STEP on low-cost energy efficiency solutions or ASSIST2GETHER on creating awareness-raising tools, assistance and advice.

It is only logical that the fight against energy poverty is at the heart of the European Commission’s Green Deal and its idea of creating a “just transition”, as well as it is fully in line with the h seventh United Nations Sustainable Development Goalon affordable and clean energy. It is all the more urgent to define solutions that enable the most vulnerable populations to become more resilient to health disasters, such as the COVID-19, and climate change.



Marine is the director and founder of Next Energy Consumer, a Turin-based policy consultancy focused on the social aspects of the energy and climate transitions. She launched her company to help build a just transition, after having worked as an EU energy rights advocate for many years in Brussels.


Disclaimer: This article is a contribution from a Digital Ambassador. All rights reserved.
Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission is responsible for the use that might be made of the information in the article. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) only and should not be considered as representative of the European Commission’s official position.