For the definition of energy poverty, three key criteria will be used to determine the status of households. These are income, social and housing criteria. Based on these data, the definition is now being drawn up. This was explained by Deputy Prime Minister Atanas Pekanov during the conference "Let's reduce bills - energy poverty and prices", organized by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (EP).
He explained that the amendments to the Law on Energy are currently being prepared, and lawyers are finalizing the texts before submitting them for review by the caretaker government. However, Pekanov did not commit to when exactly the definition of energy poverty could be adopted in the parliament.
It is this term that is key to continue the use of funds from European funds, Pekanov recalled. At the moment, the next tranche of funds under the Recovery Plan is 66, and after the reforms are completed, it will be possible to request the release of the money. At the moment, there is no risk of losing the funds, even if the reforms are delayed, Pekanov was categorical.
The prices of energy carriers are also related to the war, but they started to rise nearly a year and a half before that. This was explained by MEP Sergey Stanishev from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats at the opening of the conference. According to him, the high prices of energy carriers are related to the fact that Europe has turned out to be too dependent on the import of energy carriers and does not produce enough of its own energy.
According to Stanishev, the topic of the prices of energy carriers, electricity, heating, is discussed very widely in every family in Bulgaria and the European Union (EU) and is at the center of the public debate and the economic agenda of the countries of the bloc.
In 2021, Eurostat reported that 7 percent of people in the EU had problems with normal heating in winter. In Bulgaria, this percentage is three and a half times higher than in Europe. "This puts the issue before the Bulgarian institutions as a responsibility to the citizens," commented the MEP.
Stanishev pointed out that the group of socialists and democrats in the EP has started a political and public campaign, which is called: "Let's reduce the bills", whose activity is aimed at both national governments and European institutions.
The PES proposed that the EU approve 100 billion euros in immediate support for households most affected by energy poverty on the eve of winter. According to Stanishev, the resources can come both from active European programs and from an additional solidarity contribution, not only the surplus profits in the energy sector, but also in the banking and pharmaceutical sectors. In addition, the group of Bulgarian socialists in the EP insists that the derogation regarding the budget expenditure ceiling be postponed for the necessary time, so that there can be "fiscal space" for each government to take the necessary decisions and support its population, without be punished. Furthermore, access to natural gas and electricity for vulnerable households should not be allowed to be interrupted. In total, the measures proposed by the group are 15 in number, Sergey Stanishev further specified.
The aim of the "Let's reduce the bills" campaign is also to pressure the EC to take urgent action on the subject of poverty. At the same time, the Green Deal can be an important tool to overcome this problem. Stanishev expressed regret that no representatives of the Ministry of Energy came to the conference. It is now in their hands to prepare the changes in the Energy Law and the definition of energy poverty.