Electricity price scandal in the Spanish state
Scandalously high electricity prices in the Spanish state have been highlighted by Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya MEPs Josep-Maria Terricabras and Jordi Solé in a written question to the European Commission.
MEPs Josep-Maria Terricabras & Jordi Solé
Electricity prices for consumers have recently hit record levels, with the poorest citizens often being the hardest hit.
In their question, the MEPs note that only a very small number of vulnerable citizens are able to qualify for the 25% discount on their bill available within the Spanish state.
Energy poverty has already been blamed for deaths in Spain, as people struggle to heat their homes or have their electricity cut off.
The Catalan parliament passed a law in 2013 which enabled low income families to suspend paying their energy bills for a certain period.
But this was quashed by Spain's constitutional court in 2016, following an appeal by the Spanish government, who claimed that the Catalans had exceeded their authority.
Since then, a new law has been passed in the European Parliament which requires energy companies in Catalonia to inform social services before a person is cut off.
MEP Josep-Maria Terricabras at the European Parliament
Between 2008 and 2014 the average price of electricity in the Spanish state increased at double the average rate of the other EU member states. In January 2017, the price per MWh was 117% higher than the same period of the previous year.
This makes Spain the EU state that has seen the highest rise in electricity prices since 2008.
In their question, the MEPs also point out that the Spanish energy market has some of the lowest customer satisfaction anywhere in the EU.
They accuse the Spanish government of poorly managing the energy market, which led to the then Vice President of the European Commission, Joaquín Almunia to describe it as an 'oligopoly' in 2013.
They ask the Commission whether the Spanish energy market is in line with the EU priority of creating an energy market which offers the best prices for consumers whilst at the same time protecting them.
The MEPs also question whether having an oligopoly in the Spanish electricity market is compatible with the European strategy for a common energy market.