Europe takes further action against the energy crisis

BRUSSELS

European countries are taking various measures such as limiting energy prices, cutting taxes, helping people in need and lowering temperatures in public buildings in the face of rapidly rising natural gas prices and electricity.

Russia’s disruption of natural gas supplies to Europe following economic sanctions imposed due to the Russian-Ukrainian war has triggered an unprecedented energy crisis across the continent.

Natural gas prices in European markets have increased more than tenfold on an annual basis, reaching historically high levels, and this increase has led to a sharp rise in electricity prices.

Prices on the wholesale electricity markets in European countries have increased eightfold.

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

EU measures

The EU has prepared a contingency plan in case the flow of natural gas from Russia is interrupted.

Under this plan, all member countries should reduce their gas consumption by 15%, which means using less gas, around 45 billion cubic meters per year in the Union.

The EU has also prepared legal regulations to compel the filling of underground natural gas reservoirs for member states until the winter season – 80% until November 1.

After Russia indefinitely cut off the flow of natural gas to Europe via the Nord Stream gas pipeline, energy ministers from EU members met to determine further action against rising prices.

EU countries immediately instructed the European Commission to prepare legislation that includes limiting the revenues of low-cost electricity generators, benefiting fossil fuel companies, imposing a price cap on the natural gas, reducing electricity demand and providing liquidity to energy companies.

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

Germany’s measures

In Germany, the government has prepared three different aid packages worth a total of 125 billion euros ($126.6 billion) to reduce the impact of rising energy prices on citizens.

Fuel taxes have been reduced and unlimited public transport tickets have been activated for €9 per month until September.

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

Swimming pool heating systems are prohibited.

Some coal-fired power plants, whose closure was planned in the past, have been brought back into service.

The country decided to keep two nuclear power plants, which had to be closed before.

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

Additional aid of €300 was granted to employees and €100 per child to families.

Citizens were also asked to save energy.

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

It has been decided to provide additional help with heating expenses to all those receiving housing assistance across the country.

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

The state will also tax surprisingly high profits from energy companies.

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

France’s measures

France has decided to freeze natural gas prices at October 2021 levels and the increase in electricity prices has been limited to 4% until the end of the year.

Needy households have benefited from assistance with the payment of energy of €100.

A savings program has been 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 radiators.

Stores must turn off their lights for windows from 01:00 a.m. to 06:00 a.m.

The government has also provided fuel aid to those in need.

UK measures

The UK has provided help of £400 ($467) towards energy bills for low-income households.

An additional £650 was paid to poor recipients of state aid and an additional €300 contribution was paid to pensioners.

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

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

The country has decided to hold total annual household energy bills constant for two years – a maximum of £2,500 a year.

Households will receive an additional £400 towards their energy bills.

Licenses will be issued to exploit new gas and oil deposits in the North Sea.

The measures of Italy

Fuel taxes have been lowered to combat rapidly rising costs.

Help was given with the energy bills of people on low incomes and 200 euros were donated to people in need.

Subsidies have been granted for investments in solar energy.

Energy companies were prevented from unilaterally changing contracts.

New natural gas supply agreements have been signed with Algeria.

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

The measures of Spain

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

Shop window lighting and public building lighting must be turned off by 10 p.m. local time.

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

A price cap was imposed on natural gas used for electricity generation.

Citizens and businesses were urged to save energy.

Greece’s measures

Greece has announced a series of savings measures aimed at reducing energy consumption by 10% in public institutions.

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

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

The country will set up special units to sensitize institutions on energy saving.

Campaigns have been launched 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 establishments by 25%.

Tree regulations have been relaxed to provide firewood.

Poland’s measures

Poland has introduced tax reductions on energy products.

Cash assistance was provided to households.

The implementation of a low gas price for households, schools and hospitals has been extended.

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

Belgian measures

The country has extended the duration of social energy tariffs for people in need.

Belgium has provided aid of €225 for those who heat their homes with oil and €100 for electricity bills.

Gasoline and diesel taxes have been reduced.

The country has extended the implementation of VAT reductions on energy.

A tax rebate was granted for products such as heat pumps, solar panels or thermal insulation materials.

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

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

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

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

Bulgaria’s measures

Fuel taxes have been lowered across the country, and taxes on household electricity and natural gas bills have been removed.

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

*Written by Gokhan Ergocun

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Mary I. Bruner