[26.02.21] Linking energy poverty with broader European policy and financial frameworks

Cohesion Policy is key to the EU with around one third of the EU’s budget devoted to it. The Cohesion Fund supports the less developed regions, where the highest shares of households affected by energy wastage, low indoor temperatures and arrears on energy bills are found.

Structural Funds for investments in housing are usually only used in (mostly Central and Eastern EU MS) multi-family and social housing as well as in public buildings because of the lower administration costs. This leaves an important share of Europeans exposed to energy poverty out of scope, in particular in the PRS.

Regarding the European Social Fund, every year the ESF assists over 15 million people by promoting employment and social inclusion and by combating poverty. Measures related to energy efficiency in buildings can be supported by all three Cohesion Policy financial instruments. ENPOR will examine good practices from these structural frameworks and make recommendations on policy alignment under future EU budgets.

Next to the EU Long Term Strategy for emissions reductions to 2050, the EC also proposed to increase climate mainstreaming to at least 25% of the budget in the next Multiannual Financial Framework covering the period from 2021-2027.

At present, many MS have remained heavily focused on grant-based policies for energy efficiency, with far fewer examples of the use of innovative financing instruments.

ENPOR will prepare frameworks at national, regional and local level to direct structural fund spending towards energy poverty.

In its Opinion on multilevel governance and cross-sectoral cooperation to fight energy poverty, agreed in June 2019, the European Committee of the Regions “considers it essential to simplify and widen access to EU funds, as the limited means of action for people and groups affected by energy poverty and their reduced access to services offered by public administrations often plays a role in bringing about or aggravating this problem. Furthermore, it points out that renovation and energy efficiency measures may be limited by the financial situation of occupants, and by rent regulations that make it difficult to recover costs; stresses therefore the need to ensure appropriate incentives to invest in energy efficiency improvements for both tenants and house-owners, and the protection of vulnerable consumers”.

ENPOR will assist in this regard for the PRS.