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Europe takes new measures against energy crisis

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The European Union is scrambling to find a unified response to the energy crisis./AFP
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Sep 13, 2022 - 12:16 AM

BRUSSELS (AA) – European countries are taking various measures such as limiting energy prices, reducing taxes, helping needy people, and lowering the temperatures in public buildings against the rapidly increasing natural gas and electricity prices.

Russia’s interruption of natural gas supplies to Europe following the economic sanctions imposed due to the Russia-Ukraine war has unleashed an unprecedented energy crisis across the continent.

Natural gas prices in the European markets increased more than ten times on an annual basis, hitting historically high levels, and this increase pushed up electric prices sharply.

Prices in the wholesale electricity markets in European countries rose up to eight times.

The European Union and member countries are trying to implement various measures to protect consumers from rapid price increases and ensure energy supply security.

EU measures

The EU has prepared an emergency plan in case the natural gas flow from Russia is interrupted.

As part of the plan, all member countries should reduce their gas consumption by 15%, which means using less gas, around 45 billion cubic meters annually across the union.

The EU has also prepared legal regulations for obligating to fill the underground natural gas tanks for the member states until the winter season — 80% until Nov. 1.

After Russia indefinitely cut off natural gas flow to Europe through the Nord Stream pipeline, the energy ministers of EU members gathered to determine new measures against the rising prices.

EU countries immediately gave the EU Commission a task to prepare legislation that includes limiting low-cost electricity producers’ incomes, benefiting from fossil fuel companies, imposing a ceiling price on natural gas, reducing electricity demand and providing liquidity to energy companies.

Details of these regulatory proposals are expected to be officially announced in a few days.

Germany’s measures

In Germany, the government prepared three different aid packages worth €125 billion ($126.6 billion) in total to reduce the reflection of rising energy prices on citizens.

Fuel taxes were reduced, and unlimited public transport tickets were enabled for €9 per month till September.

The country limited the heating temperature to a maximum of 19 Celsius-degree for public buildings and decided to turn off the lighting of public buildings and monuments, as well as billboards.

Swimming pools’ heating systems are prohibited.

Some coal plants, which were planned to be closed in the past, have been put back into operation.

The country decided to keep two nuclear power plants, which were supposed to be shut down before.

The country decided to keep prices constant for basic electricity consumption and to pay a one-time payment of €300 to retirees and €200 for students and trainees to help them against rising energy bills.

Additional support of €300 was given to employees and €100 per child for families.

Citizens were also asked to save energy.

An additional budget has been allocated for the energy-efficient renovation of old buildings.

It has been decided to provide extra support for heating expenses to everyone who receives housing assistance across the country.

The government has also announced that the country will continue to provide electricity for people who cannot pay their bills.

The state will also tax unexpectedly high profits of energy companies.

The country is expected to announce additional aid measures in the coming days.

France’s measures

France decided to freeze natural gas prices as October 2021 levels and electricity price increase was limited to 4% until the end of the year.

Needy households were provided with an energy payment support of €100.

A saving program was prepared to reduce energy consumption by 10%.

Heating and cooling levels in public buildings were limited — a minimum of 26 degrees for air conditioners and a maximum of 19 degrees for heaters.

Shops should turn off their lights for windows from 01.00 a.m. to 06.00 a.m.

The government also provided fuel aid for needy people.

UK’s measures

The UK provided £400 ($467) support for energy bills for low-income households.

Another £650 was paid to the poor people receiving public assistance, and an additional contribution of €300 was provided to retirees.

The new nuclear power plant plan was approved, and it has been announced that shale gas works will be supported.

The operating period of some coal power plants has been extended.

The country decided to keep the total annual household energy bills constant for two years — a maximum of £2,500 per year.

Households will receive additional assistance of £400 for their energy bills.

Licenses will be issued to operate new gas and oil fields in the North Sea.

Italy’s measures

Fuel taxes were lowered to fight against rapidly rising costs.

Support was given to the energy bills of the low-income and €200 euros were paid to needy people.

Subsidies were provided for solar energy investments.

Energy companies were prevented from changing contracts unilaterally.

New natural gas supply agreements were signed with Algeria.

A new plan is being prepared in the country to save much more energy through houses and public buildings.

Spain’s measures

In winter, the thermostat temperature is limited to 19 degrees.

The shop window lights and the lighting in the public buildings should be turned off at 10 p.m. local time.

The country decided to reduce the VAT on natural gas from 21% to 5% as of October.

A ceiling price was imposed on natural gas used in electricity generation.
Citizens and businesses were asked to save energy.

Greece’s measures

Greece has announced a series of savings measures to reduce energy consumption by 10% in public institutions.

Measures were taken to keep the temperature of public buildings at 27 degrees in the summer season and 19 degrees in the winter season.

Heating, cooling and lighting systems should be turned off when the buildings are not in use.

The country will establish special units to raise awareness of institutions on energy saving.

Campaigns have been started to help citizens save energy.

Hungary’s measures

Heating in public buildings in the country is limited to 18 degrees.

Fuel prices are kept below market prices.

It was decided to reduce the use of natural gas in public institutions by 25%.

Tree regulations were eased to provide firewood.

Poland’s measures

Poland introduced tax discounts on energy products.

Monetary assistance was provided to households.

Low gas price implementation for households, schools and hospitals has been extended.

The country paid households €650 to help their heating costs.

Belgium’s measures

The country extended the duration of social energy tariffs for needy people.

Belgium provided support of €225 to those who heat their homes with heating oil and €100 for electricity bills.

Taxes on gasoline and diesel were reduced.

The country extended the implementation of VAT discounts on energy.

Tax discount was given for products such as heat pumps, solar panels or thermal insulation materials.

Lighting in public buildings is turned off between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The country decided to set the heating temperature to the highest, 19 degrees.

The country plans to impose additional taxes on companies whose profits reached high levels.

While the operating period of the two nuclear power plants, which are planned to be closed in 2025, has been extended by 10 years, the country decided that the two reactors, which are planned to be closed this winter, will continue to operate.

Bulgaria’s measures

Fuel taxes were lowered by the country and taxes on household electricity and natural gas bills were removed.

The increase in household electricity bills was also limited to 3.4%.

 

* Writing by Gokhan Ergocun from Istanbul

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