Procedure : 2008/2006(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0202/2008

Texts tabled :

A6-0202/2008

Debates :

PV 17/06/2008 - 11
CRE 17/06/2008 - 11

Votes :

PV 19/06/2008 - 5.2
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2008)0306

REPORT     
PDF 204kWORD 123k
30 May 2008
PE 402.546v02-00 A6-0202/2008

on Towards a European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers

(2008/2006(INI))

Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

Rapporteur: Mia De Vits

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on Towards a European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers

(2008/2006(INI))

The European Parliament,

–    having regard to the Commission proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/54/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity (COM(2007)0528),

–    having regard to the Commission proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/55/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas (COM(2007)0529),   

–    having regard to the Council conclusions of 15 February 2007 on an Energy Policy for Europe (6271/07),

–    having regard to the Commission Communication entitled "An Energy Policy for Europe" (COM(2007)0001),

–    having regard to the Commission Communication entitled "Inquiry pursuant to Article 17 of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 into the European gas and electricity sectors" (COM(2006)0851),

–    having regard to the Commission staff working document entitled "Prospects for the internal gas and electricity market – Implementation Report" (SEC(2006)1709), accompanying document to the Commission Communication (COM(2006)0841),

–    having regard to the Commission staff working document entitled "EU energy policy data" (SEC(2007)0012),

–    having regard to Council Directive 2004/67/EC of 26 April 2004 concerning measures to safeguard security of natural gas supply(1),

–    having regard to the Annual Report of the European Energy Regulators for the period 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2006 to all members of the Council of European Energy Regulators and the European Regulators Group for Electricity and Gas, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, made under Article 3(8) of Commission Decision 2003/796/EC of 11 November 2003 on establishing the European Regulators Group for Electricity and Gas(2),

–    having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the European Council of 8-9 March 2007, concerning the European Council's endorsement of a "European Council Action Plan (2007-2009) – Energy Policy for Europe" (7224/07),

–    having regard to Commission Communication entitled "Towards a European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers" (COM(2007)0386),

–    having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–    having regard to the report of the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A6-0202/2008),

A. whereas the principles of social inclusion, equal opportunities for all and fair access to knowledge in the digital era mean that it is essential for every citizen of the Union to have affordable access to energy,

B.  whereas consumers – especially individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – have limited tools at their disposal and opportunities to represent their interests in an effective way,

C. whereas adequate energy provision constitutes one of the key elements towards achieving citizens' successful participation in social and economic life,

D.  whereas the European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers (the Charter) constitutes an appeal to and stimulus for governments, energy regulators and the industry, represented by all social partners, to contribute in a concrete way to ensuring that energy consumers' interest are being taken into account in a social, environmental and competitive EU energy market,

E.  whereas given that in markets with imperfect competition, such as the energy sector, market mechanisms alone do not always fully ensure consumers' best interests, general customer protection, in addition to energy market-specific public service obligations, must be addressed and enforced,

F.   whereas the available data suggest that Member States have made only limited use of targeted public service obligations to address the needs of vulnerable customers,

G.  whereas there should be a strong focus on the role conferred on the National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs), which shall be independent from any public or private interest and have the competence to monitor energy markets, including prices and all their components, and to intervene and to sanction if needed,

H. whereas consumer dispute resolution in the field of energy is not sufficiently covered by legislation, and whereas the resolution of such disputes is dealt with by a number of different authorities, and consumers do not know whom to approach,

I.   whereas the EU targets regarding renewable energy should be integrated into the European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers in order to allow consumers to choose energy sources that are coherent with these targets,

Nature of the Charter

1.   Stresses the fact that energy supply is a key element for the successful participation of citizens in social and economic life;

2.   Recalls that, although the rights of consumers are already protected by the Community legislation in force, they are often not respected; emphasises that the reinforcement of consumer protection measures can best be achieved by more effective implementation of the existing legislation;

3.   Points out that adoption of the package of proposals concerning the electricity and natural gas markets (the 'Third Package' proposals) which Parliament is currently debating would further reinforce the legal framework for the protection of energy consumers;

4.   Considers that the future protection of energy consumers must continue to be based on joint action by the European Union and Member States. Individual consumer protection practices in the energy market might have different effects in different Member States. Consistent application of the principle of subsidiarity is therefore vital;

5.  Stresses the absolute need to strengthen consumer protection on energy issues and to use the Charter as a guiding tool for European and national authorities, as well as private entities, in order to ensure and enforce consumer rights effectively;

6.  Points to Article 3 of, and Annex A to, the Directives 2003/54/EC and 2003/55/EC, as will be amended by the 'Third Package' proposals; emphasises the need for better enforcement at national level;

7.  Underlines the potential added value of the Charter as an information tool collecting, clarifying and consolidating the energy rights of consumers as already adopted in the existing EU legislation; welcomes therefore the Commission's plan to devise an internet tool on consumer rights in energy, but highlights the need for a broader communication strategy for consumers who do not have internet access or for whom the internet is an unsuitable communication medium;

8.  Points out that the Charter must also meet the needs of small professional users, who often face the same problems as ordinary energy consumers;

Access to Transmission and Distribution Grids and Supply

9.   Recalls that the European energy market continues to be characterised by a large number of monopolies. This restricts freedom of choice and the possibility of changing supplier quickly and free of charge, increases the lack of information and, as a result, heightens the vulnerability of consumers. It is important to ensure that efforts are made to create a single, competitive energy market and to protect, in particular, vulnerable customers;

10. Stresses that European electricity and gas consumers have the right to be connected to the networks and to be supplied with electricity and gas, at reasonable, transparent, non- discriminatory and clearly comparable tariffs and prices, including adjusted prices and tariffs resulting from their respective indexation mechanisms; non-discrimination should include a prohibition on discriminatory charges on certain methods of payment, in particular for those, often vulnerable, consumers charged by means of a prepayment meter;

11. Underlines that special attention must be paid to consumer protection and safeguards must be put in place in order to prevent grid disconnection; Member States have to appoint a supplier of last resort and inform the consumers thereof; such a mechanism must be set up by national legislation;

12. Stresses that disconnection from the network should be considered only as a last resort solution in cases of arrears of payments on the part of consumers, especially as far as vulnerable consumers and holiday periods are concerned; providers ought to apply the principle of proportionality, as well as make an individual notification to the consumer, before proceeding with such an action;

13. Stresses the need to ensure the protection of universal rights, especially as regards access to energy for different social, economic and regional groups through stability and security of supply, as well as the effectiveness of networks, by promoting cooperation at regional level between Member States and neighbouring countries with a European perspective;

14. Calls on the Member States to ensure that the consumer is able to switch easily and within a period that does not exceed one month, to a new supplier, free of charge;

Tariffs, Prices

15. Stresses that European electricity and gas prices must be reasonable, easily and clearly comparable, and transparent as well as based on actual energy consumption; published prices, tariffs, indexation mechanisms and conditions must be easily accessible to the consumer by means of a comprehensive and easily understandable set of information tools; they should furthermore be communicated beforehand to, and monitored or approved by, the independent national regulator;

16. Underlines that it is a customary contractual obligation on providers to carry out a calculation, on a regular basis and on predetermined dates, so as to ensure that consumers are charged according to the actual quantity of energy that they have used; if providers are unable to comply with such an obligation for, for example, technical reasons, the consumption of energy ought to be calculated on the basis of reasonable and transparent criteria, which are clearly stated in the contract;

17. Highlights in this regard the development of market actors specialising in publishing comparable information regarding suppliers' prices, tariffs and conditions, as well as providing support in switching providers;

18. Calls on the Member States to promote 'smart meters', which provide consumers with a clear view of their actual energy consumption and therefore contribute to better energy efficiency; recalls the requirements of Article 13 of Directive 2006/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on energy end-use efficiency and energy services(3) on the provision of smart meters; calls urgently on the Commission and Member States to implement and enforce the requirements on metering and billing set out in that Directive, in the interests of consumer information and energy;

19. Asks the Commission to carry out an in-depth study on the current use of smart meters in private households and, if necessary to carefully examine the possibility of developing and, after consulting Parliament, financing with a view to promoting best practices; underlines the importance of promoting and supporting industry in its efforts in this regards;

Information / contracts

20. To safeguard transparency, underlines the need to develop a model for standard invoices based on best practice; in order to ensure comparability; underlines the need for the development of standard pre-contractual and contractual information, including information on the consumer's right under the Charter;

21. Calls on Member States to put in place a physical single entry point for any consumer information request, for example through national energy regulators, thus facilitating consumer access to information and at the same time ensuring that information is available as close to consumers as possible in terms of place, time, tools and thoroughness;

22 Underlines the need for the Commission to develop, in cooperation with the NRAs, quality criteria to be applied to consumer-related services, including call centres;

23. Is of the opinion that tariff simulators must be available on the websites of suppliers and of the independent national regulator; underlines that consumers must, on a regular basis, be informed about their energy consumption;

24. Underlines the need to oblige suppliers to inform consumers of the promulgation of the Charter;

Social measures

25. Deplores the fact that vulnerable energy consumers have serious problems that need to be explicitly addressed in national social security systems or other equivalent measures;

26. Calls on the Commission to provide guidance on a common definition of public service obligations and to oversee the implementation by the Member States of the obligations as laid down in Article 3 of and Annex 1 to Directives 2003/54/EC and 2003/55/EC;

27. Calls on the Commission to define the notion of energy poverty;

28. Calls on Member States to set up National Energy Action Plans addressing energy poverty and to communicate such measures to the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators; calls on the Agency to monitor, in cooperation with the national authorities, these measures and to communicate successful measures; stresses that an appraisal should be made of the extent to which the individual national social security or tax systems take account of the risks associated with energy poverty;

Environmental measures

29. Underlines that providers and network operators ought to act in an environmentally responsible manner, making every possible effort to keep CO2 emissions, as well as the production of radioactive waste, at the lowest possible levels provided for under the applicable law;

30. Considers that priority should be given to renewable energy sources, combined heat and power and other embedded generation, and that the right of consumers to make an informed choice in favour of renewable energies should be recognised in the Charter; considers therefore that all consumers should be informed in an objective, transparent and non-discriminatory way about the sources of energy available to them; 

31. Stresses therefore the need to implement in practice Article 3(6) of Directive 2003/54/EC, according to which Member States shall ensure that consumers receive reliable information about the energy mix of the electricity supplier and the environmental impact resulting from the electricity produced by the supplier's energy

National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs)

32. Underlines the existence of NRAs in the Member States, but deplores their limited power today; is of the opinion that Member States should ensure that NRAs have sufficient statutory powers and resources, and that they are willing to use them;

33. Expresses its conviction that national regulators should play a central role in consumer protection; believes, for this reason, that proposals aimed at reinforcing the powers and independence of regulators, including the right to impose sanctions on suppliers who do not comply with Community law relating to this issue, should be supported;

34.  Is of the opinion that NRAs must be independent from any public or private interest and have at least the competence to:

–   approve the principles for determining network charges or the actual grid tariffs, and possibly their indexation mechanisms,

–   monitor prices and all their components, including their indexation mechanisms,

–   monitor, control and enforce consumer information provided by the suppliers for at least the first five years after the market has been fully liberalised and until such time as it has been demonstrated that suppliers have and will continue to provide consumers with relevant, transparent and impartial information,

–   protect consumers against unfair commercial practices and cooperate, in this respect, with the competent competition authorities,

35. Member States should ensure that NRAs have the necessary powers in order to monitor the electricity and gas offers available on the market. Therefore, they shall have access to all decisive elements determining the prices, including at least, gas and electricity contractual terms and conditions and index formulas;

36. Stresses the need to ensure the competences of the NRA are incorporated into Article 22(c) of Directive 2003/54/EC and Article 24(c) of Directive 2003/55/EC;

37. Underlines the need for an integrated European approach of the activities of the NRAs to be coordinated by the European Agency;

Complaints

38. Calls on Member States to put in place as close to consumers as possible a common entry point for any type of consumer complaints and to encourage the resolution of such complaints through alternative methods of dispute resolution;

39. Stresses that all consumers should have the right to service delivery, complaint handling and alternative dispute resolution by their energy service provider in line with international standards including ISO 10001, ISO 10002 and ISO 10003 and further ISO standards developed in this field;

40. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that ombudsmen are empowered to treat complaints effectively as well as to provide information on energy issues to consumers;;

Consumer organisations

41. Acknowledges the important role of consumer organisations in ensuring the maximum is done to achieve a high level of energy consumer rights throughout the EU; all Member States should ensure that consumer organisations have sufficient resources to deal with essential services, including gas and electricity;

42. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the sustainable development of energy services; emphasises the important role of consumer organisations and NRAs in promoting sustainable consumption by means of drawing the attention of both consumers and companies to, in particular, the energy mix, climate change and the influence of consumers on the development of the sector;

43. Recommends that Member States provide financial support to consumer organisations in order for them to be able to train their staff and thus be in a better position to provide assistance in the legislative process, in informing and educating consumers and in consumer dispute resolution;

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44. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments of the Member States.

(1)

OJ L 127, 294.2004, p. 92.

(2)

7 OJ L 296, 14.11.2003, p. 34.

(3)

OJ L 114, 27.4.2006, p. 64.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

I Introduction

Energy consumer rights exist today, but are laid down in different EU documents and often not transposed into national legislation. Therefore, there is a strong need to clarify, consolidate and complement these rights. Therefore, the Charter is an initiative to be welcomed.

In its Communication of 5 July 2007, "Towards a European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers" (COM (2007)986), the Commission indicates possible elements for a future Charter, that would set out, in an easily comprehensible way, existing Community legislation and possible elements for future action.

The Commission does not envisage the future Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers to be a legal document.

Contrary to the Commission, your rapporteur is of the opinion that this Charter should have a legally binding nature, or must at least be incorporated and annexed to a legislative instrument, the Directives on the internal market in electricity (2003/54/EC) and on the internal market in natural gas (2003/55/EC).

Your rapporteur also welcomes the Commission's intention to draw up a so-called "Energy Checklist", an information tool, to be elaborated by the Member States and to be made available on the internet, guiding the consumer and giving practical information. However, she emphasises that this technical "Energy Checklist" is not an acceptable substitute for a "Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers".

II. List of consumer rights:

The Commission's consultation document lists the issues the future Charter should focus on:

- assist in establishing schemes to help the most vulnerable EU citizens deal with increases in energy price,

- improve the minimum level of information available to citizens to help them choose between suppliers and supply options,

- access to adequate levels of energy and reasonable prices,

- reduce paperwork when consumers change supplier,

- protect consumers from unfair selling practices,

- enforcement of consumer rights,

- information on energy efficiency measures and patterns of behaviour,

- consumer representation.

Without being exhaustive, your rapporteur wishes to highlight the following elements of significance for better consumer rights.

A. Access to supply and transmission and distribution grids

European electricity and gas consumers have the right to enjoy universal service, that is the right to be supplied with a specified quality, at reasonable, easily and clearly comparable and transparent prices. The transparency and predictability of published grid tariffs, and eventually their indexation mechanism, shall be further improved through comprehensible and easily accessible calculation methods or through any other communication forms, communicated beforehand to and approved by the independent national regulators authorities. These shall ensure in addition that these grid tariffs are non discriminatory.

Special attention should be paid to the consumer’s protection and safeguards should thus be taken in order to prohibit any grid disconnection. Disconnection shall be considered an undesirable remedy in case of non-payment. Member States have to appoint a supplier of last resort (set up by law) and inform the consumers thereof.

National regulation authorities (NRA) should be independent of any private or public interest and have the competence to monitor the access to electricity and gas and to intervene with appropriate sanctions.

Member States shall ensure that the eligible consumer is in fact able to switch easily to a new supplier, free of charge. The period required for switching to a new supplier of electricity or gas should therefore not last longer than one month.

B. Tariffs, Prices and Monitoring

European electricity and gas prices shall be reasonable. European energy consumers shall receive, free of charge, transparent information on applicable prices, tariffs, indexation mechanisms and on standard terms and conditions. They have a right to receive energy bills based on actual energy consumption.

European energy consumers should be offered a wide choice of payment methods so as not to discriminate against vulnerable customers, which shall include prepaid meter and tariff calculators without charge. Any difference in terms and conditions shall reflect the costs to the supplier of the different payment systems.

The European Commission should develop and finance pilot projects for the use of competitively priced individual meters accurately reflecting actual energy consumption and information on the time of use (so-called "smart meters

National regulatory authorities (NRA) should dispose on the necessary tools in order to monitor the electricity and gas offers available on the market. Therefore, they should have access to all the decisive elements determining the prices, including at least gas contracts terms and conditions, index formulas, etc. If needed, they should have the competence to intervene and to impose appropriate sanctions. They should present the results of price monitoring to the public in a manner making it possible to compare prices and basic conditions of available offers.

C. Information

European energy consumers shall receive objective and transparent information on applicable prices, tariffs and index mechanisms as well as on standard terms and conditions included in standard invoices, in respect of access to and use of electricity services at national and community level;

European electricity consumers shall obtain information on the contribution of each energy source to the overall fuel mix of the supplier over the preceding year; in a harmonised and comprehensible manner on the invoices within member states so as to allow for easy comparison.

European electricity consumers shall obtain information on at least the reference to existing reference sources, such as web-pages for example, where information on the environmental impact, in terms of at least emissions of CO2 and the radioactive waste resulting from the electricity produced by the overall fuel mix of the supplier over the preceding year is publicly available on their home page and, on request, This information should also make a available and free of charge to the consumers in 'written form, if requested'.

European energy consumers have the right to receive information, in or with their bills, contracts or other transactions, receipts, etc., on a) current actual prices and actual consumption, at least once every 6 months; b) price indexation mechanism and any change of it c) yearly comparison of energy actual consumption; d) comparison with benchmarked energy user; e) contact details for objective information on energy efficiency improvement measures, end-user profiles and equipment specifications f) contribution of each energy source to the energy supplied

Suppliers and network operators should, under their respective responsibilities, install easily accessible and quality help-lines to deal efficiently with connection problems and other service quality issues occurring.

Tariff calculators should be made available by the national regulatory body and supplier, and information on prices per kWh should be published at regular intervals at the website of the national regulatory body.

National Regulatory Authorities shall monitor the occurrence of restrictive contractual practices, including exclusivity provisions, which may prevent or restrain the choice of any customer. Where appropriate the National Regulatory Authorities shall inform and cooperate with the National Competition Authorities of such practices.

D. Social measures

Member States shall take appropriate measures to address energy poverty in National Energy Action Plans and shall communicate such measures to the European Agency for regulators cooperation.

Energy poverty is a growing problem in all Member States. An integrated approach is needed and the role and the independency of NRAs are essential. The European Agency for regulators should also take responsibility by monitoring the progress of Member States and communicating successful measures by Member States to deal with energy poverty.

Energy poverty means a household which is not able to afford to heat the home to an acceptable standard- this is based on the levels recommended by the World Health Organization: 18 degrees C for all living areas when occupied. It also includes the ability to purchase other energy services in the home at a reasonable cost. A household is energy poor if its share of energy expenditure within total household expenditure exceeds twice the national median energy expenditure. These European energy consumers (with special needs caused by impairments or in a poor financial situation) should benefit from essential energy services specific prices for vulnerable consumers to maintain their physical and mental health and well-being, at reasonable prices or, where necessary, free of charge.

Available data suggest that Member States have made only limited use of targeted public service obligations to address vulnerable customers Member States should adopt and publish a definition of vulnerable consumers to be applied - without further request by the vulnerable consumer - by all suppliers of electricity and gas, where gas supply meets basic household needs. The Commission should be encouraged to start infringement procedures against Member States omitting to adopt and to apply this definition.

III. The independency and the role of National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs)

NRAs should be independent from any private or public interest and be given the competences that allow them to play fully their role in the improvement of the rights of energy consumers.

They should dispose on the necessary tools in order to monitor the gas and electricity offers available on the market. Therefore, they should have access to all decisive elements determining the prices.

NRAs shall monitor the occurrence of restrictive contractual practices, including exclusivity provisions, which may prevent or restrain the choice of any customers. Where appropriate the NRA shall inform and cooperate with the National Competition Authorities of such practices.

Competences of NRAs must be incorporated in article 22c of Directive 2003/54/EC (electricity) and article 24c of Directive 2003/55/EC.

There is also a need for an integrated European approach of the activities of the NRAs coordinated by the European agency.


OPINION of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (7.5.2008)

for the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

Towards a European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers

(2008/2006(INI))

Draftsman: András Gyürk

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Industry, Research and Energy calls on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.   Stresses the fact that energy supply is a key element for the successful participation of citizens in social and economic life;

2.   Recalls that, although the rights of consumers are already protected by the Community legislation in force, they are often not respected; emphasises that the reinforcement of consumer protection measures can best be achieved by more effective implementation of the legislation;

3.  Points out that adoption of the package of proposals concerning the electricity and natural gas markets which Parliament is currently debating would further reinforce the legal framework for the protection of energy consumers;

4.   Considers that the future protection of energy consumers must continue to be based on joint action by the European Union and Member States. Individual consumer protection practices in the energy market might have different effects in different Member States. Consistent application of the principle of subsidiarity is therefore vital;

5.   Supports the Commission's plans not to propose the charter as a new legal act but as a means of assisting citizens to obtain information about their rights in a better and simpler way; points out in this context that discussions aimed at disseminating information in the framework of the charter concerning potential but not yet adopted legal acts have an adverse effect on the clarity and applicability of the rights and, therefore, stand in the way of the desired objectives;

6.   Recalls that the European energy market continues to be characterised by a large number of monopolies. This restricts freedom of choice and the possibility of changing supplier quickly and free of charge, increases the lack of information and, as a result, heightens the vulnerability of consumers. It is important to ensure that efforts to create a single, competitive energy market and to protect, in particular, vulnerable customers are therefore made;

7.   Points out that, in accordance with the principles of social inclusion, equal opportunities for all and fair access to information in the digital era, it is essential that every citizen of the Union has access to affordable energy;

8.   Calls on Member States and national regulatory authorities to make serious progress with a transparent price indication and a transparent energy invoice, making correct price comparisons possible;

9.   Whereas consumers – especially domestic customers and small and medium-sized enterprises – have limited tools and opportunities for having their interests represented effectively;

10.  Considers that guaranteeing supply to people with lower incomes is necessary in the light of increasing energy prices and is also necessary for people living in remote areas, because of small and uncompetitive energy markets; considers it important that Member States take steps as soon as possible to define exactly these groups of consumers and to promote and support measures, for example social tariffs, ensuring continuity of access for them to services for electricity and natural gas; calls on Member States to invest as a priority in comprehensive energy efficiency measures for low income households, thereby addressing in a strategic manner both the problem of fuel poverty and the 20% by 2020 energy efficiency target adopted at the 2007 Spring European Council;

11. Points out that the Member States need to go further in tackling energy poverty, since adequate energy provision constitutes one of the key elements in the successful participation of citizens in social and economic life;

12. Emphasises that, in the light of increasing energy prices, Member States should establish national definitions of energy poverty and develop measures to eradicate energy poverty, taking account of increasing energy prices, levels of household income and energy efficiency;

13. Expresses its conviction that national regulators should play a central role in consumer protection; believes, for this reason, that proposals aimed at reinforcing the powers and independence of regulators, including the right to impose sanctions on suppliers who do not comply with Community law relating to this issue, should be supported;

14. Stresses that the Member States must devote more attention to the problem of energy poverty and that an appraisal should be made of the extent to which the individual national social security or tax systems take account of the risks associated with energy poverty;

15. Points out that consumers are key players in a competitive market; expresses its belief that facilitating access to information is one of the most important tools in the field of consumer protection, with special regard to the comparability of prices and the conditions for changing supplier; considers that the transparency and predictability of published prices and tariffs must be further improved by means of the use of comprehensible and easily accessible calculation methods; stresses that in order to increase individual contributions to achieving the EU's energy strategy goals regarding CO2 emissions, consumers should be informed about the fuel mix that makes up the energy they consume;

16. Stresses therefore the need to implement in practice Article 3(6) of Directive 2003/54/EC, according to which Member States shall ensure that consumers receive reliable information about the energy mix of the electricity supplier and the environmental impact resulting from the electricity produced by the supplier's energy

17. Calls on the Member States to promote smart meters, which provide consumers with a clear view on their actual energy consumption and therefore contribute to better energy efficiency; Recalls the requirements of Article 13 of the Directive 2006/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on energy end-use efficiency and energy services(1) on the provision of smart meters; calls urgently on the Commission and Member States to implement and enforce the Directive's requirements on metering and billing, in the interests of consumer information and energy;

18. Emphasises the need of to develop standard invoices that can be used by all suppliers, in order to increase the transparency and comparability of information, and the need to mention consumer rights on the websites of electricity and gas companies and of independent national regulators;

19. Emphasises the need for the Commission to develop quality criteria in cooperation with national regulatory authorities to be applied to consumer-related services, included call-centres;

20. Emphasises the need to require suppliers to inform consumers about the promulgation of the proposed Charter.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

6.5.2008

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

50

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Šarūnas Birutis, Jan Březina, Philippe Busquin, Jerzy Buzek, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Giles Chichester, Dragoş Florin David, Pilar del Castillo Vera, Den Dover, Lena Ek, Nicole Fontaine, Norbert Glante, András Gyürk, Fiona Hall, David Hammerstein, Rebecca Harms, Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, Mary Honeyball, Ján Hudacký, Romana Jordan Cizelj, Werner Langen, Anne Laperrouze, Eugenijus Maldeikis, Eluned Morgan, Angelika Niebler, Atanas Paparizov, Aldo Patriciello, Francisca Pleguezuelos Aguilar, Anni Podimata, Miloslav Ransdorf, Vladimír Remek, Herbert Reul, Teresa Riera Madurell, Mechtild Rothe, Paul Rübig, Andres Tarand, Catherine Trautmann, Nikolaos Vakalis, Adina-Ioana Vălean, Alejo Vidal-Quadras

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Daniel Caspary, Dorette Corbey, Manuel António dos Santos, Göran Färm, Juan Fraile Cantón, Gunnar Hökmark, Vittorio Prodi, Bernhard Rapkay, Silvia-Adriana Ţicău

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

Daniel Strož

(1)

OJ L 114, 27.4.2006, p. 64.


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

27.5.2008

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

21

0

16

Members present for the final vote

Cristian Silviu Buşoi, Charlotte Cederschiöld, Gabriela Creţu, Mia De Vits, Janelly Fourtou, Evelyne Gebhardt, Martí Grau i Segú, Małgorzata Handzlik, Malcolm Harbour, Anna Hedh, Edit Herczog, Iliana Malinova Iotova, Pierre Jonckheer, Graf Alexander Lambsdorff, Kurt Lechner, Toine Manders, Nickolay Mladenov, Catherine Neris, Zita Pleštinská, Zuzana Roithová, Heide Rühle, Leopold Józef Rutowicz, Salvador Domingo Sanz Palacio, Christel Schaldemose, Andreas Schwab, Marianne Thyssen, Jacques Toubon, Bernadette Vergnaud, Barbara Weiler, Marian Zlotea

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Emmanouil Angelakas, Wolfgang Bulfon, Colm Burke, Giovanna Corda, Jan Cremers, Wolf Klinz, Manuel Medina Ortega, Gary Titley, Anja Weisgerber

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

Elisabeth Morin, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Nicolae Vlad Popa

Last updated: 10 June 2008Legal notice