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A better energy deal for consumers - 16/11/2012

Low-energy lightbulb © EU

EU countries will be pushed to fully apply EU energy rules so the market works to its full potential for consumers.

EU countries have agreed on common rules for a more competitive energy market, one that offers people and businesses secure and sustainable supplies at fair prices.

These rules are key to overcoming the challenges facing us today, including climate change, over dependence on imports, and access to affordable energy for all.

Some progress has been made. Today, consumers have more choice, wholesale prices are kept in check, and sufficient supplies are being secured to meet our needs.

In other areas countries are falling short. To speed up the process, the Commission will do more to help consumers reap the benefits of a competitive market. Measures to make the internal energy market work include:

  • ensuring all countries apply all the rules correctly – some do not yet, especially the rules on interconnecting gas and electricity markets
  • making sure consumers are aware of all their rights, including the right to switch from one supplier to another with 3 weeks' notice and at no cost – which could represent €13 billion a year in savings for consumers if everyone were paying the cheapest rates
  • promoting the roll-out of smart metering – which enables consumers to monitor their consumption in real time and better manage their energy bills
  • clearer presentation of prices, tariffs and offers – protecting vulnerable consumers
  • removing regulated prices – which give consumers a false impression prices are at the fairest level and which are a barrier to more competition and investment (currently only 9 EU countries do NOT regulate retail prices).

Next steps

Some countries plan to provide incentives to traditional suppliers so as to keep electricity capacity available for when variable sources (such as wind and solar power) do not produce enough to meet demand.

Before such incentives are introduced, more analysis is needed on the reasons why countries are not investing in increasing their production capacity. National governments should also look at getting supplies from providers in other EU countries, which could be more cost-effective.

The Commission will also issue guidelines on how to improve the market for renewables.

More on EU energy market

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