Press MEPs call for more ambition to tackle rising prices

News | 14-10-2021 in Agence Europe

While they welcomed the European Commission’s toolbox aiming to help Member States mitigate the negative impact of soaring energy prices on households and businesses, members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) lamented that the institution had not gone further in these proposals during a debate with Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson on Thursday, 14 October.

Lack of ambition

The coordinator for the EPP group, Maria Carvalho (Portugal) declared, “We would have liked to see more ambition”. In particular, she considered the toolbox to be “too vague” with regard to the idea of a joint response on gas.

The same rings true for the social democrats. The ITRE coordinator for the S&D group, Dan Nica (Romania) had reacted the day before: “The situation is critical for many of our citizens and businesses, and, frankly speaking, our entire group expected much more determination from the European Commission”.

In his view, one urgent and necessary measure is to temporarily freeze the price of electricity across the entire EU at the level it was at the beginning of the year.

He also lamented that an instrument funded at the European level to urgently intervene in the energy crisis was not proposed.

Questioning Ms Simson, several MEPs—such as Nicolás González Casares (S&D, Spain), Bronis Ropé (Greens/EFA, Lithuania), Marek Paweł Balt (S&D, Poland), and Jerzy Buzek (EPP, Poland)—notably argued for the joint purchase of gas.

The commissioner reminded them that this proposal, brought by Spain, would be examined by the European Commission in the context of the gas package scheduled for 14 December (see EUROPE B12811A1).

She nevertheless specified that participation in such a plan would be voluntary and would have to respect competition rules and not interfere with the functioning of the internal market.

Member State responsibilities

Several members of the ITRE Committee also stressed the role of Member States.

“It’s also very important to make sure that governments of the countries take their responsibilities because they are the ones that can lower the energy prices for consumers in the short term”, said Tom Berendsen (EPP, the Netherlands).

For their part, the Greens/EFA especially stressed the need to support those who are the most vulnerable and to continue developing renewable energy infrastructure.

The ITRE coordinator for the group, Ville Niinistö (Finland) thus pointed out that the main reason that energy prices are soaring is the rise in gas prices. He consequently called on Member States to not only move away from fossil fuels but also expedite the renovation of buildings.

Joining the call to develop renewable energy further, Morten Petersen (Denmark), the coordinator for the Renew Europe group, expressed his concern that permit procedures would act as a brake [on renovations].

Polish MEPs from the ECR group, Izabela-Helena Kloc (ITRE coordinator for the group), Grzegorz Tobiszowski, and Jerzy Buzek urged the European Commission to investigate potential speculation on the European carbon market (ETS). In response to their remarks, Ms Simson reiterated that the institution intends to ask the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to increase its monitoring of market trends.

Other members of the ITRE Committee—such as Joëlle Melin (France), the coordinator for the Identity and Democracy group, and Eva Maydell (EPP, Bulgaria)—felt that the current situation showed the importance of using nuclear energy for decarbonisation.

Finally, responding to criticism from Ms Carvalho on the lack of measures to help the middle class, “which is also suffering”, the commissioner indicated that the toolbox encourages Member States to use fiscal measures, such as lowering the VAT, which benefits all consumers equally. (Original version in French by Damien Genicot)

Please note, your browser is out of date.
For a good browsing experience we recommend using the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.