- The prices for gas and electricity are rising sharply in Europe. The EU wants to prevent the high energy prices from jeopardizing the economic recovery after the Covid-19 crisis.
- That is why the EU Commission calls on all EU members to provide targeted support to households and, if necessary, to exempt small businesses from energy taxes for a limited period.
- At the same time, the EU does not want to be dissuaded from the path it has taken when it comes to climate policy.
97 percent of the oil consumed in the EU has to be imported. The dependence on imports for gas is 90 percent. More independence in the energy sector must have top priority in the EU, underlines EU Commissioner Kadri Simson.
The EU has a strategy to reduce dependence on imports in the energy sector. The “Green Deal” requires all member states to radically change their energy mix: away from gas and oil, towards massive support for renewable energy sources such as solar power or electricity from wind power.
Renewables remain the key
A lot of money is available: The billions from the Corona Reconstruction Fund should be used for this, according to the requirement from Brussels. That is why it is important not to lose sight of the goal, said Energy Commissioner Simson. The only correct answer to the current price shock is to switch to alternative, local, green energy sources.
Due to the rapidly increasing demand for gas, fossil fuels are currently so expensive.
The EU clearly rejects demands from some EU states to reverse the strict requirements in climate policy. In their analysis, the experts of the EU Commission come to the conclusion that the requirements from climate policy are not to blame for the currently excessive prices. “Because of the rapidly increasing demand for gas, fossil fuels are currently so expensive,” says Simson.
Last year proved this: During the corona pandemic, some countries were able to cover most of their lower energy needs with renewable energies – with falling prices. Now the other side of the coin is showing. The supply of renewable energy is still far too small in the EU, said Simson.
That does not mean that the EU wants to sneak out of responsibility in the current crisis. The EU Commission submits a diverse catalog of short-term measures to the EU states; in response to soaring bills for gas and electricity.
Buying gas and oil together?
20 countries are already making use of this. They support low-income households with monthly direct payments, they temporarily reduce VAT on energy products or they waive taxes and fees for small businesses. The list is as long and varied as the energy supply strategies in all 27 EU countries. In order to avoid distortions of competition, the EU Commission proposes rules that should apply to everyone.
In the medium term, the EU could also better coordinate storage capacities in order to be able to react to price jumps. Such is still missing in some EU countries. One possibility would also be to buy gas and oil together across the EU in the future – analogous to corona drugs. However, both proposals are already meeting with resistance from the EU member states.