The 2nd Catalan Congress on Energy Poverty took place in Barcelona on the 8 and 9 November 2018, gathering representatives from European and local administration and consumer organizations.
NEON Member Síndic de Greuges organised a round table discussion on the supervision of customer service and mediation in the energy sector, which included representatives of the main energy and water companies (Endesa and Agbar, respectively).
The debate emphasised that the Síndic is a defender of rights and thus not a strictly speaking a “mediator”, as he can position himself on the side of the harmed party whenever he detects vulnerabilities, irregularities or maladministration.
It was however also pointed out that, for citizens filing a complaint, the supervisory powers of the Síndic guarantee that they are put on an equal footing with the administration or company. Many problems that users experience often have their origin in the contractual imbalances and accountability problems in liberalised energy markets.
To conclude, the Síndic pointed out that it is necessary to go beyond the consideration of people as simple “clients” of a service, and that people needed to be seen as citizens with rights, including the subjective right to access basic and essential services at an affordable price and within essential consumption patterns.