Back to top

Granting vulnerable customers an access to energy


The problem of access to energy from the international perspective is not only the matter of protection of vulnerable customers but also of energy poverty, which is strongly correlated with the global problem of poverty itself. In our opinion energy is crucial for any development, and poverty cannot be eradicated without reducing energy poverty. Access to energy seen from the frame of reference of public international law let us distinguish between two main dimensions of that issue: the so-called development perspective and the human rights perspective. Access to energy is one of the major factors stimulating the achievement of progress and development, which should be meant as the sustainable development. Although the matter of access to energy falls under the competences and functions of myriad of international governmental and nongovernmental organizations and is subject to different international agreements and regulations, the most widely reaching are the UN’s regulations. Those regulations are the main subject of the analysis of international legislative framework in our paper. The second area of our interest is the human rights perspective. Firstly we analyse the influence of granting access to energy on the implementation of various human rights, not only socioeconomic, but also the political and civil ones. Secondly, we turn to consider the  idea, whether a «right to energy» could be formulated as a single human right. Doing that, we then turn to EU and national perspective (analysing the example of Poland), finding that there are no explicit grounds in treaties neither for the protection of vulnerable customers nor for «a right to energy». The same refers to the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. Vulnerable customers are protected through provisions of directives in the EU and acts of Parliament in Poland. The scope of protection in the future in the EU in our opinion will expand along with advancements in liberalization of energy markets.