While the European Commission has presented its proposal on the revision of the electricity market, and the European Parliament is starting discussions on this subject, twelve national and European organizations are calling for a European ban on power cuts in a manifesto intended to the States and to the European institutions.
Already in June 2022, the European Federation of National Associations Working with the Homeless (Feantsa) and the Abbé Pierre Foundation warned of the dramatic consequences of the health crisis and then the rises in energy prices on the budget of European households, especially the most vulnerable among them. In Europe, many countries do not count the number of power cuts, but some, such as France or Germany, have several hundred thousand cuts per year.
The existing figures also do not take into account thousands of households using prepaid meters sometimes resulting in unaccounted self-cuts. Other figures are cause for alarm: in 2021, more than 31 million people lived in fuel poverty in Europe, as many had difficulty making ends meet and 75 million people lived below the poverty line.
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How many of them will fail to pay their energy bills in the months and years to come and end up without energy?
Because today, all over Europe, families organize their lives in conditions from another time, around candles and wood fires. It is no longer a matter of choosing between eating and heating. It’s about living day and night without energy: in the dark, for meals, for the children’s homework, without a refrigerator, without a communication device at the time of the digital transition.
Power cuts, the ultimate expression of fuel poverty, have disastrous consequences, including in the long term, for these households. Studies show that the people concerned are more exposed to winter pathologies. They more frequently develop chronic respiratory, osteoarticular and neurological health problems, all other things being equal. Mental health is not spared, since they are also more affected by depression. The absence of heating and light generates fire risks through the use of candles, lamps or kerosene heaters. Finally, energy deprivation is a factor of social exclusion which has dramatic effects on well-being, self-esteem, professional and family life and education.
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