EU member states expect energy price recommendation

Released on 13.10. 2021

  • A woman turns the thermostat of a heater. The rising energy costs are causing problems for private households and companies in the EU member states. Photo: Hauke-Christian Dittrich

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The rising energy costs are causing problems for private households and companies in the EU member states. The Commission in Brussels wants to help people and companies – with a kind of tool kit.

Brussels (dpa) – What can EU states do against the ever increasing energy prices? The European Commission now wants to answer this question. The Brussels authority presents a so-called toolbox.

The toolbox should contain measures that EU countries can apply nationally without distorting the market. Households and companies are increasingly suffering from the pressure of rising heating and electricity costs.

Increase by 440 Percent

The wholesale price of natural gas between January and October is around 440 percent increased. Gas is used for heating, but also to generate electricity – so fossil fuels also have an impact on how much electricity costs. In Germany, electricity on the stock exchange has been around 140 percent more expensive since January, in Italy 340 percent and in Spain even 425 Percent.

This is also reflected in the electricity and heating bills of households – albeit less dramatically than in wholesalers. This is because the consumer price is also determined by taxes, levies and network charges. According to the comparison portal Check 22, electricity costs in Germany rose by 4 percent in September compared to the previous year . For heating consumers paid 24 percent more.

Intervention at national level

Several Member States have intervened at short notice to protect households from high electricity and heating bills. France, for example, has promised a tariff brake and wants to pay poorer households 100 euros. Italy wants to spend 3 billion euros to waive some of their electricity and gas bills, for example through tax cuts. The “Toolbox” is intended to collect and coordinate measures of this kind and similar.

For some Member States, however, this is not enough. The French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said last week that energy prices would remain volatile in times of the energy transition. Countries like Spain, France and Greece have called for long-term action at European level. Among other things, the states want to coordinate gas purchases, create joint gas reserves and decouple the price of electricity and gas. Such medium-term measures could be listed in the «Toolbox». Concrete negotiations on this should not take place until an EU summit on 21. and 22. October give, as Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last week.

Commission reluctant

The Commission is reluctant to take joint measures, too because it sees the price hike as temporary. According to the Commission’s estimates, prices should fall again by April at the latest, but to a higher level than 2020. Basically behind the price increase is an unusually high demand in the course of the recovery from the corona pandemic. At the same time there is a lack of supply and the reserves have been emptied because of the cold past winter.

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