Regulators confirm the need for crisis support measures to be targeted and tailored
What is it about?
ACER and the Council of European Energy Regulators (CEER) publish today their Energy Retail and Consumer Protection 2023 Market Monitoring Report (MMR).
On annual basis, ACER and CEER monitor the European internal energy markets of electricity and natural gas. 2022 was an unprecedented year for EU energy consumers and retail markets, as the post-pandemic recovery and Russia’s invasion to Ukraine caused wholesale energy prices to spike, which then heavily impacted consumers’ bills.
Against this background, this year’s energy retail and consumer protection MMR (based on 2022 data) looks at:
- The number of measures implemented in EU Member States as a response to the energy crisis, the budget allocated for financial support to consumers and how this evolved during the year in different countries.
- The status of retail energy markets across Europe.
- The European energy consumption and energy retail price patterns over 2022.
- The level of consumer information provided via energy bills and the number of consumer complaints handled during 2022.
- The level of consumer protection and engagement (including how the role of consumer and the definition of energy poverty changed) across Europe.
What are the main findings?
- In most Member States, retail electricity and gas prices rose significantly in response to wholesale price spikes. Despite the recent (2023) wholesale electricity prices reductions, end-user prices are falling at slower rates.
During the crisis, governments in each Member State stepped in to support their residential and industrial consumers. Such support comes at a cost to national budgets. An important lesson from 2022 is the need to further target support measures (if needed) and to incentivise cutting energy consumption.
- The crisis triggered demand reductions, particularly among industrial customers. On the contrary, energy demand in the household sector was not highly affected by the energy crisis.
- While in some Member States the uptake for fixed price contracts increased (compared to 2021), in others, customers switched to a variable price or other type of price contracts.
- The number of consumer complaints increased during the 2022 crisis.
- Thirteen Member States have successfully rolled out smart meters, while five countries have not yet started the roll-out. Hence not all consumers have the same opportunities to actively engage in energy markets.
- Consumer bills and comparison tools fail to meet the criteria as set out in EU laws. High-quality tools are needed for consumers’ informed choices.
- Practice shows that electricity household consumers are willing to reduce peak-time usage.
The report also provides a series of recommendations, including:
- A list of possible targeted support measures that Member States could opt for in the future.
- The need to enhance monitoring and simplify access to information, so consumers can be more engaged, even in rapidly evolving market situations.
- The requirement for comparison tools covering the entire market to meet the standards set by EU law. It is key that consumers are able to understand their bills and are in a position to take informed decisions about their energy consumptions.
Would you like to find out more?
Access the report's infographic.
Join our ACER-CEER webinar: Monitoring energy retail markets and consumer protection on Thursday, 14 September 2023. You will learn more about the report’s findings and can interact with our experts!