Commission encourages energy suppliers to enhance consumer protection this winter

Today, Commissioner for Justice and Consumer Protection, Didier Reynders, and Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, hosted an online event where energy stakeholders agreed on a set of common principles to increase the support for consumers struggling to pay their energy bills.

The signatories include representatives of European consumer organisations, regulators, distributors and energy suppliers including Bureau Européen des Consommateurs (BEUC), the Council of European Energy Regulators, Eurelectric, Eurogas, European Energy Retailers (EER), EU DSO Entity and E. DSO. They formally endorsed a joint declaration encouraging suppliers, distributors, regulators and consumers organisations to put in place bill deferrals through payment plans, to avoid unilateral contract changes, to provide better information about consumption and optimised energy use, and to protect people from disconnection in case of financial struggles.

Over the past year, the Commission has provided guidance on a wide range of measures to help Member States tackle the impact of high energy prices on vulnerable consumers such as regulated prices, targeted tax reductions and direct support.

Today’s event results from the Commission’s engagement over the past weeks, through two roundtables, with representatives of European consumer organisations, regulators, distributors and energy suppliers to identify a common ground for additional voluntary consumer protection measures which go beyond the existing regulatory framework throughout this winter.

Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said: “The extraordinary situation requires joint efforts to ensure no consumers are left behind this winter. We must ensure that they benefit from the highest level protection, are sufficiently informed and have solutions at their disposal. As a matter of fact, since the outbreak of the energy crisis, a number of unfair practices have been identified in the energy sector, including unjustified price increases, aggressive advertising and undue pressure to switch providers. It is crucial that we come together to address such practices.”

Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson added: “Many Europeans are struggling to pay their energy bills and we need to ensure that no one is left in the cold this winter. This requires more concerted action by energy suppliers, national regulators, system operators and consumer organisations to tackle the impact of the energy crisis created by Russia’s atrocious war against Ukraine.

The joint declaration and more information are available here.