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Energy poverty and vulnerable consumers in the energy sector across the EU: analysis of policies and measures

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This policy report from the INSIGHT_E project assesses how Member States define the issue of energy poverty and vulnerable consumers, and the measures that have been implemented to address these issues.


Energy poverty is characterised by three key drivers: low incomes, poor thermal efficiency of buildings, and high energy costs. According to the EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU SILC) conducted in 2012, around 10% of the EU population were unable to adequately heat their home and/or to pay their utility bills on time, or were living in poor housing conditions.


Under the EU's so-called Third Energy Market Package, the responsibility for addressing energy poverty, identifying vulnerable consumers and putting measures in place lies with national governments. However, it is estimated that as yet, less than a third of EU countries recognise energy poverty at an official level, identify or quantify vulnerable consumers, and therefore adequately target energy poverty measures.


The study highlights that energy poverty is not only a regulated energy markets issue, but may be even more prevalent in off-grid communities, or those associated with other national markets, e.g. district heating. In addition, it should not only be regarded as an issue of affordable heating, but of cooling too.


Energy poverty measures are explicitly focused on lower income households, and seek to address longer term structural problems of building energy efficiency.


Financial interventions are said to be a crucial means of short-term protection for vulnerable consumers and energy efficiency measures, particularly those focusing on building retrofit, a key part of the strategy to address energy poverty.


The full report can be downloaded from:


The INSIGHT_E project is is funded by the European Commission under the 7th Research porgramme for Research and Technological Developement.