On Wednesday, the European Commission presented a series of proposals for measures that member states can put in place to counter the ongoing energy crisis in Europe, including subsidies, tax cuts for the poorest households and investments in renewable energy. The Commission’s package of proposals contains a series of advice to states which, if adopted, could help “address the immediate impact of today’s high prices and strengthen resilience to future shocks.”
There are both short-term measures, which in the short term can mitigate the effect of price increases on consumers and small businesses, and long-term, which mainly consist of investments in cleaner energy sources to facilitate the transition. to renewable energy. These measures, however, will have to be decided, approved and developed independently by the individual states: the package does not provide for new direct measures or allocations of funds by the Commission, but simply a series of non-binding advice on laws and measures that states can decide whether to adopt or not. Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy, called it “a toolbox” available to individual governments.
Among the short-term measures proposed by the commission to governments are: emergency income support for consumers in conditions of energy poverty (i.e. people who cannot access basic energy services), for example through vouchers or partial payments bills; temporary extensions for the payment of bills; safeguard measures to avoid disconnection of users from the grid; temporary reductions in the tax rate for “vulnerable” families; in addition, the Commission proposes aid to businesses and industries, in line with European state aid rules.
With regard to medium-term measures, the European Commission stresses that although the transition to renewable energy is essential for the future, other sources of energy, including gas, are still needed today to support the needs of the population. The Commission writes that the crisis has also highlighted the importance of gas storage for the functioning of the European market: “at the moment the Union is able to store more than 20 per cent of the gas it consumes each year, but not all member states have special facilities, and in any case their use and maintenance obligations are not always the same ”.
Therefore, in the medium term, it advises member states to increase investments in renewable energy, to develop energy storage capacity, including through hydrogen batteries, and to evaluate the potential advantages of joint procurement to purchase gas in stock, for the creation of “strategic reserves”.
Commissioner Kadri Simson said she will present the package of measures to the European Parliament on 14 October and to relevant ministers on 26 October, and that energy prices will be discussed by European leaders at the next European Council on 21 and 22 October. .
Simson commented on these measures saying that ‘today’s situation is an exceptional situation and the internal energy market has worked well for 20 years, but we must make sure it continues to do so if we are to implement the European Green Deal, strengthen our energy independence and achieve the climate objectives we have set for ourselves ».
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