Legal standards for addressing energy poverty under the right to housing: Towards a new right to energy?

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Abstract

Energy poverty is a major concern in the European Union (EU). Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the energy price crisis, and the war in Ukraine, millions of households in Europe were struggling to afford or access basic energy services for their daily needs, facing unhealthy damp or mould, or unable to invest in greater energy efficiency.

Since 2018, the EU has been strengthening its stance on energy poverty on several fronts, including through several new legislative initiatives, and by more firmly recognizing that access to energy services for health, well-being and decent living conditions is a human right. The EU Electricity Directive, for example, states that it must be interpreted and implemented
in line with the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights, whilst recent proposals for revising
the Energy Efficiency and Energy Performance of Buildings directives, explicitly refer to and build on the right to housing assistance in Article 34 of the Charter, so as to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources. In addition, the right to energy services included in Principle 20 of the EU Pillar on Social Rights of 2017.

Amongst the different human rights that may underpin access to modern energy services as a
human right – e.g. the right to life with dignity, an adequate standard of living or health – the
“ right to adequate housing ” stands out as a key right. This contribution briefly explains some of the key standards that have been derived from the international right to housing specifically, and their relevance to energy poverty alleviation in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe European and International Contribution to the Right to Housing
Subtitle of host publicationStandards, Litigation and Advocacy
EditorsNoria Derdek, Padraic Kenna
Place of PublicationBrussels
PublisherFEANTSA/Housing Rights Watch et al
Pages107-114
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - May-2023

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