The European Commission issued a report this week that puts smart meters at the heart of of an consumer-centric Energy Union Strategy.
The document - Delivering a New Deal for Energy Consumers - was prepared for the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions and the European Council.
The thrust of the Energy Union Strategy is putting consumers at the centre of the energy system with smart meters assisting.
The report states that "smart meters play a key role in delivering free and frequent access to accurate consumption data, better billing and fewer metering disputes."
Data from European Union member states suggests that 72% of European consumers are predicted to have an smart electricity meter by 2020 as result of wide-scale deployment, in 17 countries.
EU smart meters
On the subject of consumers who don't have access to an EU smart meter, the report suggests the possibility to request a smart meter if it is not systematically rolled out in their area.
The Commission will consider how consumers could benefit from easier and more frequent access to their consumption data.
When its comes to consumers getting benefits from smart meter, the Commission said systems must be "fit for purpose in terms of the functionalities they offer".
And on interoperability, the report stressed that "the deployment of AMI systems should guarantee technical interoperability as well as consumer access to their consumption data via an open standard non-proprietary interface."
The Commission said it would follow the implementation of standards by European bodies regarding smart meters and overall architecture in order to "analyse whether the European standards for smart grids and smart metering systems, as well as the recommended functionalities for the latter, are consistently applied to ensure that they deliver the desired functionality and interoperability."
EC confident in smart meters
ESMIG, the European voice of smart energy solution providers, responded by saying it supported the Commission’s confidence in relying on EU smart meters.
In a statement, ESMIG said: "The Communication poses the question as to whether consumers should have the right to get a smart meter and whether they should be able to choose to buy one if they are not included in the national roll-out plans.
"We believe this is an important issue and ESMIG will work with the Commission on the subject.
"The question of cost has been an almost universal constant in the discussions on smart metering.
The statement added: "Therefore, ESMIG solidly agrees with the Commission that the benefits and costs of smart meter rollouts must be fairly shared."