In addition to the general consumer rights guaranteed in EU legislation, since the opening up of the energy supply market, the EU has defined a set of rights that all EU citizens enjoy as energy consumers.
Your rights as an energy consumer have to be clearly set out in the national laws of your country and must reflect provisions in EU legislation. On that basis, the national legislation must for example guarantee you the right to:
- an electricity connection so that your home is connected to the local electricity network and supplied with electricity
- a choice of electricity and gas suppliers as well as an easy and fast switch of suppliers, without extra charges
- clear contract information and the right of withdrawal
- accurate information on the consumption and billing based on it.
These and more energy consumer rights are described in the publication “European energy consumers' rights - What you gain as an energy consumer from European legislation”.
The Commission is working on expanding these basic rights to allow consumers to actively participate in the energy market. In the future, energy consumers in the EU should be able to:
- produce, store and consume or resell self-generated electricity to the grid
- request a smart meter
- have the option of choosing a dynamic electricity supply price contract
- have access to at least one certified price comparison tool meeting minimum standards
- enter a contractual relationship with an aggregator without supplier's consent
- participate in a local energy community
For additional information on European consumer rights, please consult Your Europe web portal or the consumer associations in your country, see related links below.
The new deal for energy consumers
The European Commission proposed, in July 2015, a “new deal” for energy consumers recognising the need for Europeans to be at the core of the Energy Union. The Communication is based on a three-pillar strategy aiming to:
- help consumers save money and energy through better information;
- give consumers a wider choice of action when choosing their participation in energy markets and
- maintain the highest level of consumer protection.
Consumers need to become just as well-informed and empowered as buyers and sellers on wholesale markets through clearer billing and advertising rules, trustworthy price comparison tools and by leveraging their great bargaining power through collective schemes (such as collective switching and energy cooperatives). Finally, consumers need to be free to generate and consume their own energy under fair conditions in order to save money, help the environment, and ensure security of supply.
Citizens' Energy Forum
The European Commission has also established a Citizens' Energy Forum to help create competitive, energy-efficient and fair retail markets for consumers. It covers topics such as vulnerable consumers, price transparency, and consumers as energy market agents and is organised annually since 2008.