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Consumer protection in the EU & the role of energy ombudsmen

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Marine Cornelis
NEON Secretary General

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Consumer protection in the EU & the role of energy ombudsmen

  1. 1. Consumer protection in the EU & the role of energy ombudsmen Marine Cornelis Secretary General Верхoвна Рада Украї́ни, 8 December 2017 NEON, the network of independent energy ombudsmen and ADR bodies
  2. 2. CURRENT LEGAL BASIS
  3. 3. 2009: the ‘Third Energy Package’ directives 10 consumer rights An electricity connection A choice of supplier An easy and fast switch of supplier Clear contract information and right of withdrawal Accurate information on your consumption and billing based on it Information on energy efficiency & renewable energy Specific consumer protection measures for 'vulnerable‘ consumers An energy performance certificate for your home A national contact point for energy Easy resolution of complaints and disputes with an independent body such as an energy ombudsman
  4. 4. Purposes of the ADR Directive (2013) to ensure all consumers within the EU can seek redress from an ADR scheme if they have experienced problems with goods and services (contractual disputes) that they have purchased, online and offline to set consistent standards for all ADR providers and quality requirements (e.g. 90 days for complaint handling) to simplify ADR and reduce consumer confusion
  5. 5. OMBUDSMEN
  6. 6. Characteristics of ombudsmen Autonomous & independent authorities Public mandate: put in place by federal, national, regional or local authorities Free of charge for the consumer
  7. 7. Job of Ombudsmen Consumer disputes resolution Policy & Regulation Fairness • external appeal body towards energy companies and public bodies • takes into account any current legislation and regulations • Powers of investigation and to formulate opinions and policy recommendations • Work with national authorities and regulators • No discrimination, attention to vulnerable customers • right of good administration, fight against malpractice and significant breaches of ethics • human and fundamental rights & rights of the persons
  8. 8. By handling consumer disputes, as external appeal bodies, ombudsmen and ADR, members of NEON, rebalance the relationship between consumers & companies
  9. 9. NEON
  10. 10. NEON = National Energy Ombudsmen Network International Association Ombudsmen, mediation, alternative dispute resolutions services Totally independent of the industry Energy sector Directives 2009/72 & 73 “Third Energy Package” Directive 2013/11 on ADR
  11. 11. energy consumers: protection & empowerment Promotion of Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) Representation of the members Exchanges with stakeholders on energy & consumption policies exchange of information, experience and good practices Objectives
  12. 12. Consumers Energy Justice & ADR Policy focus
  13. 13. Strong capacity building Steer the sectors Access to the European institutions and stakeholders Networking, peer exchange and expertise sharing Policy and legal expertise Events Website, newsletters, publications, social media Networking & capacity-building at EU level
  14. 14. FIGURES
  15. 15. 8 members and associate members = 219 millions citizens / 180 millions customers
  16. 16. Customer vs Complaint breakdown Customer breakdown United Kingdom, 52,209,923 France, 48,053,000 Belgium, 9,026,170 Italy, 58,229,374 Ireland, 2,267,854 Wallonia, 2,535,898 Catalonia, 6,640,802 Malta, 290,477 Complaint breakdown United Kingdom, 41,481 France, 12,260 Belgium, 5,526 Italy, 42,326 Ireland, 275 Wallonia, 918 Catalonia, 1,025 Malta, 24 Source: NEON 2017
  17. 17. Number of disputes per 100,000 customers (household & non household end-users, electricity and gas) United Kingdom France Belgium Italy Ireland Wallonia Catalonia Malta Total number of complaints per 100,000 points of delivery (households and non-household end-users) 79 26 61 73 12 36 15 8 58 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Source: NEON 2017
  18. 18. Evolution of the number of complaints United Kingdom France Belgium Italy Ireland Wallonia Catalonia Malta Complaints in 2015 67,449 12,319 4,211 43,091 372 519 1,249 39 Complaints in 2016 41,481 12,260 5,526 42,326 275 918 1,025 24 0 10,000 20,000 30,000 40,000 50,000 60,000 70,000 Source: NEON 2017
  19. 19. 103,835 energy-related disputes in 2016 Breakdown per dispute (8 members) Connection to the grid, 3,115, 3% Metering including smart metering, 15,413, 14% Quality of the supply, 1,694, 1% Activation, Disconnection, 3,129, 3% Invoicing, e-billing problems, 37,196, 34% Price/tariff, 3,680, 3% Provider change/switching, 12,421, 11% Commercial practices, 13,033, 12% Payment problems, 4,248, 4% Customer service, redress and privacy, 6,368, 6% Other/uncategorised, 9,530, 9% Source: NEON 2017
  20. 20. ENERGY UNION “CLEAN ENERGY FOR ALL PACKAGE” CURRENTLY DISCUSSED AT EU LEVEL
  21. 21. 2018: the ‘Clean Energy for All’ Package new consumer rights Better bills & better information Free access to certified price comparison tool Easier switching processes Smart meter rollout Active consumers, self- generating communities Demand-response mechanisms, directly or via aggregators Dynamic electricity price contracts End of regulated tariffs New role for DSOs Better monitoring of vulnerable consumers
  22. 22. New rights for energy consumers: active consumers & prosumers Produce Store Consume Sell back to the market Enabled individuals & local energy communities
  23. 23. Active consumers: New Product & Service Providers Local energy communities Aggregators All relevant regulation should apply, incl. Right to an energy Ombudsman
  24. 24. Clean Energy Package Improvements •Better information, better bills •Certified price comparison tools •Active consumer engagement through new products and service providers without penalising not-engaged users •Extension of existing consumer protection to all third party intermediaries and cross-sectoral cooperation between regulatory agencies Shortcomings •Complete ban on price regulation & social tariffs •Limited support for energy poverty and measures •Unclear right to switch (bundled offers) and rules on switching-related fees •Unclear definitions (local energy communities) •No ‘right to energy’ nor clear reference to solidarity •Right to out-of-court dispute settlement (Ombudsman)
  25. 25. What is needed: better cooperation Consumers Policy makers Universities, research centres Regulators new business models Business DSOs Civil society Ombudsmen
  26. 26. QUESTIONS?
  27. 27. Дякую! Information and contact marine.cornelis@neon-ombudsman.org www.neon-ombudsman.org

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