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Euroconsumers writes to the Prime Ministers of Belgium, Spain, Italy, and Portugal on the need for a collective EU strategy to the energy crisis

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A welcome call for collective EU action to address the energy crisis

On the 24th March 2022, Euroconsumers wrote to the Prime Ministers of Belgium, Spain, Italy, and Portugal. We welcomed their call for a common EU strategy to address the energy crisis facing consumers, and declared that Euroconsumers’ experience and knowledge of helping consumers with skyrocketing energy prices is at their disposal as the EU rethinks how its energy market works in the light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Euroconsumers stands ready to assist in this energy crisis

With Euroconsumers’ four EU member organisations Altroconsumo, OCU, DecoProteste and Test Achats, based in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Belgium respectively, Euroconsumers has a wealth of experience working with consumers struggling with rising energy prices in these Member States, particularly in the field of collective purchases. Collective purchases are when a group of people, organisations, even countries, pool their resources for greater bargaining and buying power. Through our Hintdeal activities we continuously assist critical masses of consumers through the entire process of collective purchases: analysis, design & development, and support. 

Collective EU action is needed to protect consumers from rising energy prices

Euroconsumers believes that  the EU must use its collective financial and regulatory leverage to protect its consumers. Collective action -  such as common purchase and storage - is needed to protect consumers, and prevent vulnerable consumers sliding further into energy poverty. 

The conclusions from the European Council of the 25 March 2022 showed welcome progress, with the announcement of a task force for common purchases of gas ahead of next winter. Moreover, Spain and Portugal were granted a special derogation from the EU energy rules, including the ability to implement price caps, due to their energy isolation. According to the deal, other Member States will have to rely on the existing toolbox, and the new state aid temporary crisis framework, or temporary taxation or regulatory interventions on windfall profits. The willingness to rethink the European energy market in order to help consumers is welcome, in particular the initiative for more collective action such as joint purchases. The welfare of consumers must be the guiding star in how we think our energy markets should function.

The next steps in addressing the energy crisis at EU level

We urge the European Commission to put consumer welfare at the heart of its examination of the Union’s energy market functions, with the informal European Council from 10-11 March 2022 mandating the Commission to provide options to optimise the electricity market design by mid-may, as well as provide a plan on how to phase out our dependencies on Russian fossil fuels by 2027.  With the size of the challenges facing the Union, both the threat from Russia and the climate crisis, only collective EU action can make a real difference for consumers, and the planet.