One of the key pillars of the CLEAR-X project has been political advocacy at the national level, advocating for full and ambitious implementation of the EU’s Clean Energy Package to ensure as many consumers as possible have easy access to renewable energy.

Of course, for political advocacy to be effective and for EU Directives to be implemented, stable governance at the national level is usually needed – but when an EU project like CLEAR-X is run across many countries, this will not always be possible – democracies go through difficult periods, and not all countries will have stable governments at all times.

This was the situation faced by Bulgarian project partner BNAAC (Bulgarian National Association Active Consumers), who across a two-year span faced five national elections and delayed periods of government formation.

So, how can an NGO be effective on advocacy matters during such a period?

For BNAAC, who are always busy advising consumers on the ground, the key to advocacy was to set realistic goals and focus on issues that were the most prevalent. Given the high number of multi-unit buildings in Bulgaria and the difficulty in renovating them, BNAAC spent considerable time lobbying various governments, as well as engaging civil society and the media on the issue.

Their efforts were successful, leading to changes in the Condominium Management Act which would lead to a simplified decision-making process among tenants and apartment owners, facilitating energy renovations and the installation of renewable technologies in multi-unit buildings. This was in line with the key policy recommendations set out in the CLEAR-X project to ensure easier access to renewables and energy efficient homes for all Europeans.

The consumer organisation also became a participant in the government’s consultative expert group on energy efficiency, which developed a definition of energy poverty and reflects on how to advance energy efficiency goals across Bulgaria.

“During this difficult period, advocacy has not always been easy,” commented Bogomil Nikolov of BNAAC. “However, we’re happy with this win, and we hope it will have a meaningful impact on consumers transitioning to renewables in Bulgaria.”

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The CLEAR-X project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101033682.