From the viewpoint of a modern and flexible economy and social justice, ensuring key basic services at a reasonable price is vital for citizens' welfare.
One aim in the EU's new consumer policy strategy is to make sure that policies regarding services of general interest proceed in step with consumer protection.
In a basic service such as energy this means better market transparency and better procedures for appeals and legal protection.
Against this background the provision in Finland's Electricity Market Act according to which suppliers must sell electricity to consumers within the sphere of the obligation to deliver at reasonable prices remains important.
There has been a lot of talk about getting as many consumers as possible involved in spurring competition. To achieve this goal it is important for the electricity market to be transparent, price information clear and changing suppliers easy.
Transparency and clarify help consumers make wise choices.
The same conclusions were reached in a working paper for the Centre for Competition Policy in the UK entitled "Do Consumers Switch to the Best Supplier?".
The working paper stated that a surprisingly large portion of consumers who switched electricity suppliers received only a small price benefit compared to the gains they would have received from switching to a randomly selected supplier. Some consumers even switched to a more expensive supplier, although the purpose of switching was to save money.
One can only wonder to what extent poor results were due to an excess of options, which can be a problem for some consumers.
Editor-in-Chief, Director of the Consumer Law Division