FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 14, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman//File Photo/File Photo
October 15, 2021
By Kate Abnett
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders are set to press ahead with measures to shield consumers from record-high energy prices that have curtailed industrial production and hiked consumer bills.
EU leaders will meet on Oct. 21-22 to discuss the energy price spike and a “toolbox” the European Commission published this week which confirmed the measures national governments can use to provide immediate relief to consumers.
A draft of the leaders’ conclusions, seen by Reuters, invites the Commission and EU countries to use that toolbox “to provide short-term relief to the most vulnerable consumers and to support European companies.”
As of Wednesday, twenty EU countries had drawn up such measures, including price caps, cuts to energy taxes and subsidies for poorer households.
That number is set to grow, with Germany planning to cut the surcharge on consumers’ energy bills which helps fund renewable energy investments.
The Commission said it would also assess measures the EU could take in the longer term to protect countries against price spikes, including joint purchasing of gas.
EU leaders will ask the Commission to “consider medium and long-term measures that would mitigate excessive price fluctuations, increase the EU’s energy resilience and ensure a successful green transition,” the draft conclusions said.
EU ministers “will take this work forward immediately” at an emergency meeting on energy prices on Oct. 26, according to the draft, which could change before it is adopted by leaders.
The leaders will also ask the European Investment Bank, which is owned by EU governments, to “look into its capital headroom to speed up investment in the green transition, with a view to reducing future disruption risks.”
Brussels has said a faster shift to green energy is the best defence against future price spikes, since it would reduce exposure to the volatile price of imported fossil fuels.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Mark Potter)