Good practice in the fight against energy poverty

Speakers include European Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič, Minister for the Maltese EU Presidency and Chair of the Energy Council Konrad Mizzi, and Mayor of Ghent Daniël Termont, at the invitation of S&D Vice-President Kathleen Van Brempt

Between 50 and 125 million people in Europe are at risk of energy poverty. They can’t afford to heat their homes or pay their energy bills. Some families are literally living in the cold, whereas others only heat one room, have to wear several layers in the house to keep warm or decide to spend less on other expenses such as food. Find out more in this briefing published by the European Parliament.

According to the Roi Baudouin Foundation, as much as one in every five families in Belgium (21.3%) are living in energy poverty. This is mainly due to low salaries, poor energy efficiency particularly in older houses, and rising energy prices. Between 2005 and 2013 energy prices in Belgium rose by some 44.2% (source: VVGS).

In November, the European Commission published its Affordable Energy for All package; an impressive raft of legislative proposals which the European energy market must now subscribe to. The package includes proposals on unifying the energy market, fighting global warming, the transition to renewable energy and improving energy efficiency. The energy efficiency of buildings is one of the areas of attention as, for example, two thirds of European houses do not meet energy efficiency standards.

The European Socialists and Democrats believe that the issue of rising energy poverty requires greater attention from all legislators. For instance, the Energy Package does not include an ambitious action plan for tackling energy poverty. Read more in the Socialists and Democrats' manifesto on fighting energy poverty.

Over the next few months the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament will take part in discussions on the Commission proposals in order to ensure the fight against energy poverty is prioritised. In their manifesto, the S&D group also urges the Commission to work closely with the Covenant of Mayors, in order to facilitate the exchange of best practices between local governments, regions and Member States. The Energy Poverty Event in Ghent will act as a first step in this regard by bringing members of the European Commission and Presidency together to visit a best practice example in the home town of Eurocities President Daniël Termont.

They will take a closer look at the Dampoort KnaptT Op pilot project which renovates the private homes of so-called “emergency buyers” (low income families who cannot afford to rent a house and who purchase a cheap but poor-quality residence) and makes them more energy-efficient. The families do not have the resources or means to renovate their homes by themselves. The project therefore invests €30,000 in each house from a rolling fund set up by the Social Welfare Department in Ghent. The families do not have to pay this money back straightaway. The money is only returned to the rolling fund if the house is sold or if the resident dies. It can then be reinvested into new social renovation projects. The residents also receive technical, financial and social support, so that they do not get overwhelmed by the (often laborious) renovation period.

See full programme below (EN/NL)

- The event is for journalists only, by invitation. Please contact Victoria Martin de la Torre for more information -

Related documents 
S&D energy poverty event in Ghent programme
30/01/2017