Currently the EU is putting all its efforts into liberalizing and privatizing these services of general interest, so as to promote competition in the internal market. They argue that these services are of “economic interest”, that privatization and liberalisation will benefit the “consumer” through increased “choice”… but EAPN asks – Who really benefits? What has been the real impact on the poor and socially excluded? What real choice do they have?
The right to decent housing, education, social and employment services and health are essential to provide real quality of life for all (known as Social and Health Services of General Interest). Equally vital are getting affordable access to basic utilities like energy (fuel), water, transport etc (Services of General Interest)
EAPN is urging national Government and European Institutions to promote and support universal access to affordable, quality services, as part of integrated Active Inclusion approaches, based on its three mutually reinforcing pillars: adequate income support, access to services, and pathway approaches to inclusive labour markets and quality jobs. We are equally engaging in the framework of the Social Platform, to demand progress on developing a horizontal EU framework which will ensure social standards are met and ensure universal access to affordable, quality services, as a basic element of the EU social model.
EAPN work on housing and health
During 2015-2016, EAPN, together with its national and European Organisation members, is carrying out an in-depth mapping regarding main obstacles in access to housing and health services in Europe, as well as potential solutions and best practices in overcoming these obstacles. This mapping is based on dedicated sessions of discussion and exchange in the framework of the meetings of EAPN’s EU Inclusion Strategies Group (EU ISG), as well as questionnaire that has been dispatched to our membership. A comprehensive report, building on this mapping, will be launched before the end of 2016.
EAPN work on energy poverty and vulnerable consumers
EAPN has been campaigning actively on energy poverty since 2008, together with other NGOs and actors (eg EPSU), particularly in collaboration with the rapporteur from the EP over the Third Energy Package in 2008, to develop proposals on energy poverty and strengthened consumer rights. The Commission is now giving a key focus to strengthening the social dimension of the Energy Union in the Energy Union Strategy by focusing on energy poverty, in particular wanting specific inputs for key legislation being debated this year: the review of the electricity market design, the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.
EAPN is currently involved in 2 key initiatives related to this topic:
- The Vulnerable Consumer’s Working Group – a structured Dialogue established by DG Energy with DG Justice and
- a new EPC Task Force, established with financial support from Schneider Electric Foundation.
EAPN’s key concerns are to defend the right to affordable energy, through the development of an EU framework which can promote integrated approaches to energy poverty which tackle low income, high prices and high consumption/low energy efficiency and to reinforce consumer rights within the current internal-market dominated approach. A key concern is prevention of disconnection at critical times and the involvement of NGOs with people facing energy poverty in both the monitoring and delivery of community-based solutions.
- EAPN’s contribution to the Vulnerable Consumer’s Working Group (VCWG) draft working paper on energy poverty, January 2016
- EAPN’s input to the VCWG’s questionnaire on Energy Poverty, January 2016 The questionnaire focuses on three key energy poverty related issues: The concept of energy poverty, Indicators to measure energy poverty, and Measures to tackle energy poverty.
- EAPN and EPSU joint letter on Energy Poverty to Energy Union Commissioner Šefčovič’s cabinet , October 2015
- EAPN participated in an energy poverty workshop at the 2014 Annual Convention of the European platform against poverty and social exclusion, which produced these key messages.
- EAPN’s Working paper on Energy Poverty, 2010.