“This experience today of the rising energy prices is a clear wake up call… that we should accelerate the transition to clean energy, wean ourselves off the fossil fuel dependency,” a senior EU official told reporters as the European Commission unveiled a series of measures aimed at tackling the crisis.
The European Union is facing a sharp spike in energy prices, driven by increased global demand and lower-than-expected natural gas deliveries from Russia. Wholesale electricity prices have increased by 200% compared to the 2019 average, according to the European Commission.
Measures EU states can take include emergency income support to households to help them pay their energy bills, state aid for companies, and targeted tax reductions. The Commission also published a series of longer term measures the bloc should consider to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and tackle energy price volatility.
“Rising global energy prices are a serious concern for the EU,” Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said in a statement. “As we emerge from the pandemic and begin our economic recovery, it is important to protect vulnerable consumers and support European companies.”
Wholesale gas prices — which have surged to record highs in France, Spain, Germany and Italy — are expected to remain high through the winter. Prices are expected to fall in the spring, but remain higher than the average of past years, according to the Commission. Most EU countries rely on gas-fired power stations to meet electricity demand.
The Commission said that in the medium term, investments into renewables must be accelerated. “The clean energy transition is the best insurance against price shocks in the future,” it added.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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