Statement by Ms Christa Schweng, President of the European Economic and Social Committee, and Ms Baiba Miltoviča, President of the EESC's Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society
The EU is faced with an unprecedented surge in energy prices, aggravated by the consequences of the Russian aggression in Ukraine and placing an unbearable burden on European households and businesses. Ahead of the extraordinary Energy Council on 9 September, the EESC calls for joint European action to ensure the stability of electricity prices and to urgently reform the energy market.
Stabilising the prices in the EU’s energy system requires targeted temporary measures. At the same time, these measures should adhere to all the basic objectives of its energy policy: security of supply, reasonable costs and prices, and carbon-neutrality. Any proposed measures should not undermine the attainment of a secure, diversified, sustainable, climate-neutral and affordable energy system.
One of the most pressing issues to address in the energy price rise crisis is the support of EU citizens and businesses. More and more households, many of which already suffering energy poverty, do not know how to pay their energy bills. This severe situation puts a strain on the EU's democratic system and must be resolved as soon as possible. Member States should be able to implement interventions, whether fiscal or regulatory, in order to secure affordable prices for end consumers and to prevent energy poverty.
Member States should incentivise households and businesses to acquire energy saving products and technologies and produce energy themselves. Measures such as time-limited grants, up to an income limit, or price caps could be considered. Another possible solution is the redistribution of “windfall profits” as financial compensation to energy consumers, and for the expansion of renewable energy production and the necessary grid infrastructure. Finally, in order to ensure socially acceptable energy prices, the EU must be a global leader in deploying renewable energy.
On the longer term, the completion of the internal energy market needs to take place faster. The current market does not offer sufficient benefits to small renewable energy producers. Infrastructure must be enhanced in order to accommodate the switch to the green transition and also to diversified gas sources, while at the same time ensuring the flow of energy among Member States via transmission interconnections.
The EESC stands ready to support the Member States and Commission in finding solutions for the benefit of European employers, workers and civil society at large.