Affordable Energy, a Basic Social Right – How to Abolish Energy Poverty?

Workshop in the European Parliament

Photo: Nicholas Liby, Off? / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

Monday, 29 May 2017, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Venue: European Parliament, Brussels

On Monday, 29 May 2017, the Delegation DIE LINKE. in the European Parliament, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Brussels and transform! europe organise a workshop on energy poverty.


Energy poverty increases systematically across the EU. The causes seem obvious: rising energy prices, shrinking income and poor housing. Access to affordable energy is a basic social right. Despite difficulties caused by the lack of a common EU definition of energy poverty and the lack of comparable data, it is clear that energy poverty is an extensive and increasing problem that is impacting negatively on people’s living standards and rights. In the EU nearly 10 % of the population are unable to keep their home adequately warm, almost 16 % live in homes that are damp, rotting or leaking, and around 9 % are behind on payments for utility bills.

The EU and its member states must respond swiftly and visibly to increasing frustration and worry among many people about uncertain life prospects, unemployment, poverty and lack of opportunities.

On 30 November 2016 the European commission published the legislative package “Clean energy package” which will contain provisions on community energy, the rights of consumers and energy efficiency measures in buildings. Moreover, on 26 April 2017 the European commission will present its concept of the European pillar of social rights. With regard to these political discussions in the European institutions and the civil society we would like to seize an opportunity to present our proposals and demands how to ensure that the basic social right of access to affordable energy is guaranteed.

The following topics will be discussed:

  1. Ensuring the basic social right; safeguards against disconnection: how can access to affordable energy be assured;
  2. Re-municipalisation of the grid and utilities: how can the fight against energy poverty be implemented;
  3. How can community energy projects mitigate energy poverty;
  4. How can people, affected by energy poverty, benefit from energy efficiency measures in buildings. How can we ensure that the renovation of existing buildings gives priority to energy-poor citizens.

Objectives of the workshop:

  • Exchange of ideas, formulation of concrete political demands;
  • Strengthening the network of stakeholders who have been working on this topic;
  • Building of political coalitions, discussion of possible strategies;
  • Promotion of our political demands with regard to the ongoing political struggles on the legislative process on the clean energy package and the discussion on the European pillar of social rights.

The following stakeholders have already confirmed their participation: Gabriele Zimmer, President of the left group in the European parliament GUE/NGL, Jan Laurier, Vice President of the International Union of Tenants, Sian Jones of the European Anti-Poverty network, Cornelia Ernst, substitute member in the committee for industry, research and energy in the European parliament, and Caren Lay, member of the left group DIE LINKE. in the German national parliament Bundestag.

Furthermore, we will invite stakeholders of civil society organisations, NGOs, representatives from different member states heavily affected by energy poverty, and organisations representing the rights of tenants and energy-poor people.

On behalf of the organisers:

Gabriele Zimmer, President of the GUE/NGL
Cornelia Ernst, Member of European Parliament
Martin Schirdewan, Director of Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Brussels
Maxime Benatouil, Programme Director of transform! europe