When liberalization and technological changes expanded consumer markets regulatory architectures changed accordingly. Consumers' purchasing decisions became key to the well-functioning of markets: they can regulate markets and contribute to the competitiveness and the legitimacy of market processes. In the EU consumers are seen as new regulatory subjects, who contribute both to EU market integration and to European society.The regulatory consumer is, however, not reflected in a corresponding legal framework. Consumers' accountability for regulating markets conflicts with their legal position and behavioural limitations in doing so. The mismatch between legal rules and the regulatory consumer's new role in market regulation may lead to regulatory ineffectiveness and legal uncertainty. Moreover, the gap between law and technological development can lead to the problem of 'regulatory disconnection' resulting in regulatory gaps, and regulatory over- or under-inclusiveness. These problems are especially present in the energy sector, where technical developments such as smart meters, solar panels, decentralized energy storage require a proactive role from energy consumers. Consumers are often prosumers of energy i.e. consumers who produce their own energy. This paper critically analyzes current EU law on the (energy) consumers' new role in market regulation. It examines whether and how the normative EU law concepts and consumer rules comply with the concept of the regulatory consumer. The paper uses a case-study of the prosumer-driven decentralized energy production initiatives and examines whether energy consumers' new role creates regulatory disconnection, especially if it is not matched by the progress in corresponding EU law provisions.
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