NEWS - ARCHIVE

ESC: BEFORE LIBERALIZATION OF THE ENERGY MARKETS WE NEED A STRATEGY FOR PROTECTION OF THE ENERGY POVERTY

Before liberalization of the energy market it is necessary to define the term "energy poverty", to analyze the phenomenon and the scope of energy poverty in Bulgaria and to create a national strategy to protect the most vulnerable consumers of energy poverty. It is also needed an extensive information campaign to explain the people how to choose the most beneficial offer when purchasing energy. These are some of the recommendations by the Economic and Social Council (ESC) in its opinion "Measures to address energy poverty in Bulgaria", adopted on 11th December 2015.

We believe that the problem is very serious in connection with the forthcoming April liberalization of the energy market, that the time is pressing us, and many questions remain that need expert and public clarification before the start of the liberated market and therefore the ESC raises the issue to the public attention, said the ESC President Prof. Lalko Dulevski. He stressed that the European institutions have formerly expressed positions for measures to overcome the three main factors of energy poverty – the outdated and energy inefficient housing, the very low incomes and continuously rising energy prices.

Many times the liberalization of the energy market has been postponed, and today there is still no answer on how will be protected the small and medium-sized enterprises next year under the new conditions. They create 90% of the jobs and possible rise in the price of energy, by 15% - 20% as happened in other countries at the beginning, will be unbearable shock for them, said the President of the Confederation of the Independent Trade Unions in BulgariaPlamen Dimitrov. What will happen to municipal hospitals and schools which do not have flexibility in their budgets, with the water and sanitation companies, said he. The increase of the so-called “energy aid” will have to be even more if the energy prices increase and only social benefits will not solve the problem. A new comprehensive system of measures and policies for an easier transition to the liberalized energy market is needed. We need a significant financial resource for this, said Plamen Dimitrov.

The ESC insists on urgent expert meeting in January, and then a public meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister Ivaylo Kalfin and the ministers of energy and economy, said Plamen Dimitrov.

In the opinion of Lyuben Tomov, Director of the Institute for Social and Trade Union Research, the scope of energy poor households in the country is significant. He gave an example of a study by Eurostat, according to which in 2014, those who could not keep their home warm enough (World Health Organisation recommends 21° C in the living room and 18° C in the other rooms) were 40.5% in Bulgaria, which in total numbers is about 2.9 million people.In comparison energy benefits received under 300,000 people.

The Economic and Social Council, whose aim and task is to advise the President, the National Assembly and the Council of Ministers, will send its opinion next week to all the concerned institutions.The opinion also contains a special appendix with the experience of many countries and their best practices to tackle energy poverty.

MISSION

“THE CIVIL PARLIAMENT” OF BULGARIA

is the “bridge” between citizens and the national government. Its mission is to support such “bridging” so as to facilitate the communication between the society and the national government. It is the new and modern institution of the civil dialogue.

The ESC's mission is to promote civil society organisations access to and involvement in the process of decision-making on strategic economic and social issues.

The main goal of ESC's operation is to enable different representatives of organised civil society to feel free to state their views whereas unanimity on matters of common interest is encouraged. The Council expresses and protects civil society interests by communicating agreed statements and proposals submitted by its members to the executive and legislative authorities.

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