Tackling energy poverty for a just transition

The European Economic and Social Committee is organising the third edition of its conference on energy poverty on 18-19 July 2023 in Brussels. This follows on from the EESC's conferences in 2021 and 2022 on this important issue.

The conference, organised under the auspices of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU, will focus on how to tackle energy poverty in a context of unprecedented energy crisis aggravated by the war in Ukraine, which has worsened the situation of vulnerable citizens at risk of energy poverty. The conference aims to analyse current measures and take stock of recommendations from previous conferences, with the aim of developing recommendations for the future. It also aims to contribute to strengthening dialogue and cooperation between civil society organisations and different levels of governance.

As a starting point, the conference will examine the main ongoing European policy, the REPowerEU Plan, which addresses price volatility and seeks an affordable energy supply and a well-functioning energy market. The debate will focus on the effectiveness of the REPowerEU Plan in tackling energy poverty in the medium to long term and on the short-term measures needed to ensure a safe winter 2023/2024 for European citizens.

The 2023 conference is built around four panels. First, a specific panel will analyse the relevance and effectiveness of REPowerEU in tackling energy poverty. Then, the conference will develop three dimensions related to fuel poverty that need to be taken into account in policy making: The second panel will address the need for affordable and energy efficient housing as a solution to alleviate fuel poverty and household housing stress. In the third panel the conference will analyse the correlation between fuel poverty and transport poverty, both stemming from similar causes. Finally, the fourth panel will formulate gender-sensitive recommendations for tackling fuel poverty.

The discussion will be particularly timely also in the context of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. This year's High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development on 10-19 July will review in depth Goals 7 on affordable and clean energy and Goal 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, among others. The EU has the opportunity to show its example and leadership role at global level.