27-07-2022

2022 Annual meeting of European Ombudsmen in the energy sector

The annual meeting of the EEMG (European Energy Mediators Group*) network, from which Bénédicte Gendry, EDF Ombudsman, is President, was held in Rome on June 16th and 17th 2022.

2022 Annual meeting of European Ombudsmen in the energy sector

Each member presented key figures of its activity, the types of disputes handled, as well as the major trends and highlights for the year 2021:

  • a total of 13 800 mediation requests were received (increasing compared to 2020),
  • 87% from consumers
  • more than 4 500 disputes eligible in mediation were processed (increasing compared to 2020),
  • with a resolution rate of 93%, versus 73% in 2020, proving its efficiency.
  • With energy prices rising, consumers are becoming more and more attentive to their energy consumption and bills.
  • With the development of photovoltaic installations, an increasing number of disputes is observed (Portugal, Sweden, France,...).
  • A total of 49 improvement recommendations were issued by EEMG’s members as Ombudsmen to energy companies involved in disputes.

Discussion at this annual meeting focused on:

  • vulnerable customers with concrete examples of actions carried out in Italy to fight against energy poverty ;
  • digitalization with the example of the new Information System "Digital Customer Service" of the Portuguese distributor E-Redes and its interface with the services of the Ombudsman to accelerate the investigation of disputes ;
  • and on the measures taken in Europe regarding energy prices rising, including the example of Italy.

Regarding a possible revision of the ADR Directive:

It was also recalled that two EEMG members were interviewed by DG Justice of the European Commission, as part of the study launched to evaluate the effectiveness of consumer mediation mechanisms resulting from the transposition of the 2013 "ADR" European Directive (Alternative Dispute Resolution) intended to its possible revision.  On this occasion, the importance of preserving the diversity of mediation mechanisms in place in the Member States that have proven their effectiveness for the benefit of consumers was highlighted. Focus was particularly made on the specific contribution of corporate mediators, and the importance of encouraging the use of digital technology to gain in efficiency while preserving the human contact inherent in any mediation process.

The EEMG members confirm its position regarding this possible revision:

  • Diversity of ADR systems : Every national system has proven its efficiency
    Diversity should be preserved with common principles for common goals
    • Diversity of practices and roles corresponds to historical and cultural country specificities (size, resources, maturity…).
    • Respect of key set of principles: consumers choice, independence, impartiality, neutrality, gratuity, equity, non-binding system.
    • Specialized skills in a complex energetic area (context of energy prices increase, development of renewables energies, new services linked to energetic transition…).
    • Labeled mediators/ombudsmen.
    • Complementary:
      Company ombudsmen and sectorial ombudsmen: France example
      Company mediator / consumers association: Italy example
  • « Small is beautiful »
    • Mediation effectiveness lies in the fact that it is a last resort, an alternative to justice, for a reduced number of cases, allowing personalized support.
    • Mediation should not become a new service for handling complaints in companies
    • Complaints processes must continue and be improved by companies.
  • Encourage digitalization experiences
    • Use digitalization to speed off the process and be more efficient, but keep the human relationship
    • Key of success is to find the right balance between digitalization and Human relationship: Portugal exemple.

*The EEMG or "European Energy Mediators Group" gathers the mediation bodies of the major energy companies in Europe: EDF (France), ENGIE (France, Belgium and Italy), EDISON (Italy), Vattenfall (Sweden), EDP Group (Portugal) and Framatome (Germany). This annual meeting was also attended by other representatives of these bodies in Italy from ENI Plenitude, EON, and A2A.

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