Brussels, 22 May 2008
Consumers: Empowering consumers in the energy market – consumer and competition policies mutually reinforcing
Today, Consumer Commissioner, Meglena Kuneva, delivered a keynote speech at the Slovenian Presidency Competition and Consumer day which was devoted to energy. She highlighted the importance of reinforcing and implementing the rights of EU energy consumers. Only consumers who are informed and confident that their rights will be respected will be active on the market, switching to an offer which best meets their needs. Consumer ability and confidence to make the right choices will reward the best suppliers and overall improve markets. In this way, consumer and competition policies are working hand in hand. The new Consumer Markets Scoreboard, launched in January this year, allows the Commission to assess how retail energy markets are delivering for consumers.
"A genuine internal market for energy, where competition is real, is the best way to deliver the best prices and choice to European energy consumers", said EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva. "Active consumers are a key driver of the European economy; informed and empowered consumers help in making the internal market function properly. They put pressure on companies, make them work harder to compete, and reward efficiency, innovation and quality."
In her speech, Commissioner Kuneva highlighted the broad consensus that market mechanisms need to include a solid consumer element to ensure the expected consumer welfare in the energy sector. Consumers must be adequately informed and empowered to be confident participants in energy markets. Given the importance of energy for the living standards of all citizens, outcomes for consumers must also be monitored in terms of access and affordability.
She highlighted the meaningful contribution that the Third Energy Legislative Package will make for consumers, in particular ensuring that all national regulators monitor household prices, switching rates, disconnection rates and household complaints.
She also called on the active involvement of all energy stakeholders in the Citizens' Energy Forum which she launched together with the Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, at the 6 May Brussels conference on energy consumers' rights. This forum is designed as a platform to help implement and enforce consumer rights on the energy market.
While in Slovenia, the Commissioner also participated in meetings with the Committee on EU affairs and the Committee on the Economy in the Slovenian Parliament, where she presented the key priorities for EU Consumer Policy.
Link to the European Commission’s website for energy consumers rights: http://www.agathepower.eu/
For information on the Citizens energy forum: http://www.agathepower.eu/stakeholders_en.html