With rising energy prices having an ever-increasing impact on businesses, workers and civil society at large, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the European Commission's toolbox to mitigate the negative effect. EESC is also pleased that the document echoes a number of its proposals and calls for care to be taken to ensure that no one is left behind.
Energy poverty is a distressing problem to which many Europeans are exposed. The COVID-19 health and economic crisis, together with rising energy costs, have widened inequalities.
While easing the burden on low-income households we cannot forget to maintain the competitiveness of European businesses, said EESC president Christa Schweng. Keeping energy affordable for citizens and businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, is an important factor that complements our efforts for recovery.
The EESC welcomes the European Commission's proposal on providing aid to businesses or industries to weather the crisis by helping them to adapt in a timely manner and fully participate in the energy transition. Such measures must not distort competition or lead to fragmentation on the EU's internal energy market.
In order to mitigate the social impact of rising energy prices, EU Member States are also encouraged to actively engage consumers in the energy market. Consumers need to be protected and helped, but they also need to take an active role and make responsible choices.
There can be no successful energy transition towards climate neutrality by 2050 without affordable energy, Ms Schweng concluded. Europe should support its citizens in playing an active role in the green transition while ensuring access to essential energy and equal treatment for all and making sure energy poverty is not aggravated.
Over recent years, the EESC has contributed extensively to the discussion on energy poverty and will continue to take stock of the progress made in the fight against energy poverty.