The EU's response to the energy price crisis should aim to protect all households and businesses facing major problems paying their energy bills. This was the main message of the EESC's opinion on Euro area economic policy 2023 adopted at its January plenary.

The EESC supports the European Commission's two-tier proposal to protect the most vulnerable: up to a certain level of energy consumption, vulnerable consumers will pay below the market price.

However, the Committee warns that this policy should cover both people below the poverty line and the lower middle class, who will also find it hard to pay their energy bills at market prices.

The opinion's rapporteur, Petru Sorin Dandea, said: "The winter of 2022-2023 has created major problems in the Union. To really protect vulnerable households from the energy price crisis, the Commission's two-tier policy must be inclusive".

In order to prevent the shutdown of business activities, the EESC backs the Commission's proposal that Member States should make use of the State Aid Temporary Crisis Framework and urges them to use all possible means to help, particularly, small and medium sized enterprises.

To contain the rise in inflation, the European Central Bank has used the tools of monetary policy, but this can only be successful if coordinated with the fiscal policy of the euro-area countries. (mp)