“Ombudsmen have a responsibility to engage stakeholders in building trust in the energy market” concluded Lewis Shand Smith, President of NEON, at the end of the workshop on “Designing a Consumer Code for New Energy Consumers” held on Wednesday, 10 February in Brussels and hosted in CEER premises. NEON presented its proposal for a Consumer Code, a series of thirteen key recommendations aimed to protect end consumers, with the principle of solidarity and responsibility at its core. The European Commission welcomes such an initiative and calls for further exploration of the issue.
NEON’s Consumer Code workshop invited representatives from the European Commission and the European Parliament, CEER, BEUC – the European Consumer Organisation, industries, consumer organisations, scholars, ombudsmen and ADR entities and other interested parties to discuss the new energy consumer, and changes in the market that will have an impact on the consumer experience.
In July 2015, the European Commission’s Communication on ‘Delivering a New Deal for Energy Consumers’ set out the vision of an Energy Union “with citizens at its core”, where all consumers should be able to fully participate in the energy transition with a high level of protection.
The European Commission, represented by Ms Carina Törnblom from DG JUST and Ms Anna Colucci from DG ENER, acknowledges the existing and future obstacles for consumers. In the meantime, more action is needed to enable energy companies and third parties to innovate and compete. Stakeholders should get to the root of the problems identified by Ombudsmen and ADR bodies and work together to find appropriate solutions for all categories of consumers. Ms Monique Goyens, BEUC Director General, underlined the need for a flexible and well-designed consumer-centred approach, targeting all categories of consumers, especially the most vulnerable.
The unique set of data collected by ombudsmen is one of the most efficient tools to establish a clear picture of shortcomings in the market. To achieve a strong consumer engagement, and increase trust in such a fast-changing market, stakeholders should send unambiguous and positive signals for consumers.
The Consumer Code aims to engage consumers, ombudsmen and other ADR bodies, as well as policy-makers, regulators, energy providers, and other relevant stakeholders to promote shared values and best practice and build a common framework to protect end consumers. This will include effective standards for the right to access to and use of energy services, the security and quality of supply, access to the grid, data protection, prices and price comparison tools, marketing and sales, switches, moving, contractual terms, unified communications, easily understandable bills, information on real-time consumption with smart meters, and complaint procedures, with the principle of solidarity and responsibility at its core. NEON’s recommendations are based on members’ own experience of the energy markets.
Through this initiative, NEON contributes to the 2020 Vision for Europe’s Energy Customers (November 2012) developed by CEER and BEUC. This Vision relies on the principles of Reliability, Affordability, Simplicity and Protection and Empowerment; to empower energy consumers throughout Europe. ADR bodies, as established under the Third Energy Package, have a key part to play.
NEON and its members will continue to work closely with the European Commission, CEER, and BEUC, in particular, to keep consumers at the heart of the Energy Union.
Find here Mr Ernest Maragall MEP’s video message.