Few people know Europe’s energy market as well as Jaume Loffredo. “I have worked for the industry, for consultancies in the energy sector, as well as for members of the European Parliament, and I have worked on energy issues,” he says. As Energy Team Leader at the European Consumers’ Organisation (BEUC), Loffredo wants to use this knowledge to make the energy market fairer. Together with his team, he collects evidence of where consumers are not adequately protected and then communicates these problems with EU policymakers.
“For example, we are currently focused on the issue that energy suppliers can sign a contract with their customers in Europe at a fixed price, but are allowed to adjust those prices at will later,” Loffredo says. That is unfair, he says. The 36-year-old and his team have gathered evidence that this is common practice in many European countries; the consumer advocates have shared their findings with the European Commission. “Also based on our evidence, the Commission will soon decide whether this practice by energy companies will be banned in the future.”
Consumers’ interests in mind
However, the European Consumer Organisation is not limiting its work in this case to gathering evidence. The organization also makes concrete policy recommendations to ensure a fairer energy market. “We also see ourselves as advisors to decision-makers in Europe, with consumers’ interests clearly in mind.”
Loffredo can draw on a wealth of experience in his consulting work: He studied political science in Sardinia and international studies in the United Kingdom, after which he first worked as an advisor to an Italian EU parliamentarian. Later, he took a position as a policymaker for an association of energy companies. He also advised energy companies and associations on how best to engage with policymakers.
“By getting to know all sides of the energy business in Europe so thoroughly, I am particularly good at assessing which demands are realistic for consumers and which are not,” Loffredo says. For instance, he believes the idea that energy prices will return to pre-energy crisis levels without major spending and investment by the EU is unrealistic at present. “Europe has to put money in its hands to change things for consumers in the European energy market, there’s no way around that.”
However, even Jaume Loffredo cannot predict what exactly the future of Europe’s energy supply will look like: “There are promising concepts, such as energy cooperatives or our own balcony power plants, which make consumers altogether less dependent on energy companies.” But regardless of whether it’s the present or the future – the fundamental prerequisite for a fair energy market is one thing above all: transparency.
“What we see time and again at the moment is that consumers receive insufficient or unclear information about what options are available to them on the energy market,” Loffredo emphasizes. Only consumers who know their options can take advantage of them, he adds. “We want to close this information gap for consumers. By being a fact-based association, not an ideological one.” Gregor Scheu