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EP defends that “no household can be cut off from energy” during winter

The European Parliament will ask for the domestic energy supply not to be cut off during winter and resume the supply to those who are currently without it. The decision coincides with the recent suspension by the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) of the Catalan law against energy poverty, which guaranteed energy supply to those families who couldn’t pay their bills. The TC considered the Catalan decree “unconstitutional” as it “invaded competences” of the Spanish State. In an interview with CNA, Green MEP Tamás Meszerics, who promoted the moratorium, stressed “the role of the local authorities in fighting against energy poverty”. “If a regional government is able to finance, at least partly, this policy, I don’t see why it shouldn’t go forward”, he added.

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14 April 2016 07:00 PM

by

ACN

Strasbourg (CNA).- The Euro chamber called the Members States to sign up to a “winter heating disconnection moratorium” to ensure that no household can be cut off from energy during a defined winter period and that the supply to those who are currently without it will be resumed. The decision coincides with the recent suspension by the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) of the Catalan law against energy poverty, which guaranteed energy supply to those families who couldn’t pay their bills. The TC considered the Catalan decree “unconstitutional” as it “invaded competences” of the Spanish State. In this vein, the promoter of the initiative, Green MEP Tamás Meszerics, stressed “the role of the local authorities in fighting against energy poverty” in an interview with CNA. “If a regional government is able to finance, at least partly, this policy, I don’t see why it shouldn’t go forward”, he added.


The resolution emphasises the need tocomply with the World Health Organization (WHO) standards for adequate housing temperature and stressed that related costs are public in nature, since social policies are primarily the responsibility of governments.

“Energy should be considered an essential commodity as our society is becoming ever more dependent upon it”, assured Meszerics. “Proper heating, lighting, cooking, and warm water are needed for most basic activities and I also strongly believe that the winter heating disconnection moratorium, if adopted by all EU member states, will reduce the number of deaths and severe health consequences of cold homes during winter time” he added. Meszerics’s non-binding resolution was passed by 310 votes to 73, with 26 abstentions.

The moratorium is flexible and foresees the “different climates” in Europe, but the aim is to guarantee the supply during the coldest months of winter. “It is a call for the European Commission to get involved and for the Member States to apply a joint moratorium”, he stated.

Regional government’s key role

The resolution also calls the Member States “to ensure a more efficient, targeted and more carefully monitored use of the European Structural and Investment Funds by national, regional and local authorities” in order to “tackle energy poverty, increasing living costs, social exclusion, housing deprivation, and the insufficient quality of the housing stock” and Meszerics believes that the Commission should “allow greater flexibility in this field”.

According to Meszerics the majority of MEPs find that fighting energy poverty is “a matter of social policy” and therefore “is a national responsibility”. In this vein, Meszerics stressed that there are “different ways to finance the moratorium costs” and pointed to the regional governments besides the national ones.

The TC suspension of the Catalan decree against energy poverty

The moratorium arrivedamid controversy over the recent suspension of the Catalan decree against energy poverty by the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC), in particular the part which guarantees the electricity and gas supply to those disadvantaged families whom are not able to pay their utility bills. The TC considered it not amongst the Catalan government’s competences to make such decision and considered the decree “unconstitutional”.

In relation to this, Meszerics advised “a basic, general policy consensus at a national level” which would establish “what the social policy aims are”. Then, “the problem of different levels of government is easier to resolve and should not depend on political colour”, he added.

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  • Green MEP, Tamás Meszerics, during a plenary session at Strasbourg's European Parliament (by ACN)

  • Green MEP, Tamás Meszerics, during a plenary session at Strasbourg's European Parliament (by ACN)