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01 April 2015

London Forum: the prosumers at the heart of Energy Union


The last 12th and 13th of March was held the “Citizen Energy Forum”, created in 2007 by the European Commission and better known as “London Forum”. As every year, the goal was to push the thinking on issues related to energy consumers. Due to the European elections and the nomination of a new European Commission, the last Forum took place 15 months ago. So, its recommendations, which have always a decisive impact on the evolution of European legislation regarding retail markets and consumer rights, were eagerly awaited by industry professionals. The watchword of 2015 was: strengthening the role and involvement of consumers in the use and management of their energy needs

A lot of people took part, therefore, in the London Forum after more than a year of interruption: consumer associations, energy companies, government officials and national regulators… The Forum had the difficult task of adjudicating on the backing of the revolution in retail markets, still characterized by too low competition and the growing ambition to strengthen the involvement of consumers in controlling their energy consumption.

A consumer-centric Energy Union

The Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Energy Union had been very clear on this matter during the presentation of its Action Plan, the last 25th of February: the Energy Union would be set up with European citizens; increasing their involvement in the energy transition, and leading the way for a new “energy democracy.” To give substance to this ambition, the Forum focused on financing energy efficiency, transparency and access to information, and welcomed the European Commission’s announcement of the forthcoming publication of guidelines for the development of self-generation technologies, before next summer.

Retail markets adapted to prosumers

But, the Consumer cannot take the place he deserves without a deep reform of retail markets. This reform should allow the emergence of innovative and dynamic business offers. The aim is both to empower the consumer, and also to optimize the power system management by integrating the fundamental parameter of capacity. In this light, the Forum is in favor of an initiative of European Regulators to establish common criteria on the functioning of retail markets. The participants also stressed the need to remove regulatory and administrative barriers, resulting in unequal treatment of market players and undermining competition and consumer choice. In short: it is necessary to remove regulated prices, while ensuring the implementation of targeted measures for vulnerable consumers.

A suitable framework for consumers’ engagement and protection

This is a key issue that will be at the heart of the London Forum 2016. The Forum has called upon the European Commission to reflect on the development of a common definition of energy poverty, which wiould facilitate a EU coordinated policy towards this matter. All the stakeholders highlighted, also, the need to establish a transparent cooperation framework for regulators and consumer associations, through the “Network for Cooperation and consumer protection.”
Many projects that will be at the heart of the “New Deal for energy consumers,” announced by the European Commissioner for Energy and Climate, Miguel Arias Cañete, for the beginning of June!

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