The energy crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine continues to affect the EU, with around 9.3% of the population unable to provide adequate heating in 2022, compared to just 6.9% the previous year – an increase of around 35%, according to Eurostat, cited by Euractiv.
Measures put in place during the crisis have failed to tackle the issue, which was exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine, said the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), an EU body bringing together civil society organisations, employer groups, and trade unions.
“We need a new deal, a new agreement supported by strong political will where all levels of governance push in the same direction,” said Baiba Miltoviča, president of the EESC’s section for transport, energy, infrastructure, and the information society.
The European Commission’s REPowerEU plan, presented in May last year, was meant to protect households from energy shortages and was successful in reducing Europe’s dependence on cheap Russian gas.
But challenges remain in bringing prices down, said Adela Tesarova, a senior official at the European Commission’s energy department who spoke at the EESC event.
More measures for energy efficiency and consumer empowerment are needed, added Tesarova who heads a special unit dealing with energy consumers and just transition matters.
Good insulation is key to keep houses warm during winter and protect consumers from rising energy bills, but the renovation rate in Europe is currently too low to make a difference.
The European consumer organisation BEUC says raising the renovation rate must be upheld as a key objective in the ongoing revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, with high ambitions for minimum energy performance standards.
Better communication to raise awareness for the benefits of renovation are also necessary, said Massimiliano Mascherini from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), an EU agency.
Sustainable housing is essential to meet the EU’s climate targets, but measures taken at the EU and national level should avoid amplifying inequalities, he pointed out.