Inflation in the European Union is at its highest since the euro was introduced. Currently, 96.5 million Europeans are at risk of poverty and social exclusion: these people are the most affected by the broad increase in prices of goods and services, rising energy costs and loss of purchasing power.

These are just some of the alarming figures revealed in the EESC opinion drafted by Felipe Medina Martín and adopted at the July plenary session.

The impact of the energy crisis on the European economy is serious. The high prices for energy, raw materials, services and industrial goods have resulted in high inflation and weakened economic growth and have put strong pressure on public finances and businesses, undermining external economic competitiveness.

To reverse this trend, the EESC points out that households and key sectors (agri-food, transport, retail, etc.) should benefit from plans to reduce the impact of high energy prices, and calls on the European institutions to establish control mechanisms. Future policies should be tailored, targeted and transition-proof, and support families with lower incomes and greater difficulties in particular.

Some national price control measures have turned out to be the most suitable measure to soften the effects of high prices of basic products on families' budgets. For example, the "Iberian exception" on the electricity market price system has allowed Spain and Portugal to cap the price of gas in electricity production plants and thus drastically reduce bills. The temporary reduction of VAT on electricity prices, food and fuel adopted in some Member States is another example. (mp)