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Every day thousands of people across Europe are working together to keep EU citizens safe from challenges to do with health, the environment, crime, terrorism, migration and the economy.
EU Protects, the new European Commission communication campaign, is shining a light on these ordinary heroes, often unknown to the public, and showing how they are supported and connected thanks to systems or mechanisms put in place by the EU.
First of its kind study of energy poverty in Europe
One everyday hero who features in this campaign is ERC grantee Stefan Bouzarovski at the University of Manchester who is working on finding solutions to lift people out of energy poverty, defined as the inability to keep homes adequately warm due to energy costs, cold weather, inadequate housing and decaying infrastructure. It is estimated that between 50 and 125 million people are living in energy poverty across the EU often without lighting, appliances, heating and cooking facilities – conditions that can affect people’s health, well-being and ability to work.
Prof. Bouzarovski led the first of its kind detailed analysis of energy poverty across Europe via national, neighbourhood and household-level data, often comparing levels of spending among groups with different economic means. Household surveys were the cornerstone of the project: 2,435 of them were collected in four case study cities, resulting in the compilation of detailed and purpose-built data about domestic warmth, energy expenditure, debts and efficiency. This information was supplemented with insights from in-depth household interviews, ‘energy diaries’ and energy efficiency audits in the homes of 160 households living in the same four cities.
From research to EU initiative
In addition to an extensive array of academic papers, books and blog articles which have influenced the agendas of key international organisations and the EU, this data has been crucial to laying the ground for the EU’s Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV). An initiative chaired by Prof. Bouzarovski which exists to improve the measuring, monitoring and sharing of knowledge and best practice on energy poverty and which brings research groups, universities and other organisations together to raise awareness and find solutions to energy poverty throughout Europe.
Working across Europe to keep citizens warm
Among these other organisations is an energy and climate consultancy, which works closely with EPOV to collect information on different schemes to reduce energy poverty in European countries. The EU Protects campaign highlights this cross-border collaboration as well as the other EU funded initiatives such as the EU Renovation Programme and European Investment Bank all contributing from across Europe to help a young family in Lithuania create a warmer home. Much like other European countries, Lithuania faces big challenges when it comes to energy poverty, such as regulation within the energy sector and increasing energy prices.
Lifting people out of #energypoverty: ERC grantee @stefanbuzar @uomurban tackles the urban energy divide https://t.co/R9pD4fvixx. Click the video to read about other ordinary heroes keeping EU citizens warm & safe #EUProtects @GreeceBrussels @ukineu @NLatEU @LithuaniaInEU pic.twitter.com/cT3KBYh15o
— ERC Europe (@ERC_Research) 4 April 2019
You can follow EU Protects and other ERC grantees featuring in this campaign via @ERC_Research #EUProtects
The European safety net
The EU Protects campaign highlights the benefits of cross border collaboration between those working for an initiative or project supported by the EU. In this example of the European safety net in action, those supported by the EU are helping people in need to create warmer, insulated homes, with lower energy bills. Through this campaign, we recognize the extraordinary work by these ordinary heroes to improve livelihoods and protect our societies.