For the consumer, energy policy is more than just about price of energy utilities was the message of the conference organized in Budapest 10-11 December 2013 by FEPS with Tancsics Alapitvany Foundation. Climate and energy goals brought in from European level, with the agreement of the member states are affecting longer-term goals and this needs to be taken into account sooner by the national government in Hungary.
The conference discussed the unpredictability of energy policy in Hungary due to different policies led by the current Fidesz government and how this affects long-term planning in relation to European goals and the broader energy issues faced. Consensus was drawn that more cooperation at European level is needed to reduce the external energy dependency by transferring to more renewable energy supplies.
With the current government cuts on energy bills for consumers it is not taking the whole socio-economic situation into account. If, for example a programme for helping with energy savings were put in place, rather than reducing consumer bills for the short-termthis would benefit consumers more in the long-term and they would have more disposable income and thus direct spending capacity.
The range of presentations on the first day from the speakers really gave ground to the debate and the three sessions outlined a broad view on the importance and spectrum of issues at national and European level. It was summarised what has changed for consumers in terms of energy prices in Hungary and the region and its effect on competitiveness. The big issue now is earning back consumers trust in energy providers in the EU and Hungary. The role of renewables versus fossil fuels was addressed and the need for a change in attitude if we hope to reach a low-carbon society. Additionally the session on innovation and investment looked in particular at the benefits of improved grid networks to lower dependency on third countries for energy supply.
Some further basic conclusions to be taken from the two days:
- a more social dimensions is need for energy policy and a social democratic message on energy is no different to that lining jobs and the economy.
- Energy poverty is a serious problem and should not be neglected
- Fixing prices doesn’t save energy
- Energy efficiency can be increased quickly and easily, this would dramatically reduce the dependency on third countries
- The role of Europe is very important in setting the energy agenda for member states but targets are not enough if diverging and conflicting policies exist between member states.
- A clear direction on energy policy needs a long-term strategy with the credible institutions to support and guarantee
More about the conference: read the full summary in copy