The European Commission on Wednesday adopted a communication allowing Member States to take radical decisions to prevent an energy bill price crisis, according to a press release. The Commission act will be discussed next week with Member States.
The Commission is also proposing to pool the purchase of natural gas for all Member States – a scheme also used for the purchase of Covid vaccines. Last week, Spain proposed that the EU should buy gas jointly to harness the power of the single market, which brings together 450 million consumers, and to create a strategic EU gas reserve. EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson said joint purchasing and storage was worth exploring.
So to manage the “exceptional” rise in global energy prices, which is expected to last throughout the winter, and to support European citizens and businesses, the European Commission says member states can take the following measures:
– Providing emergency income support to consumers affected by energy poverty, for example through vouchers or partial payment of bills, which can be covered by EU ETS revenues;
– Allowing temporary postponement of the due date of bills;
– taking safeguards to avoid disconnection from the grid;
– providing for temporary and targeted reductions in tax levels for vulnerable households;
– granting aid to companies or industries in line with EU state aid rules;
– strengthening international energy outreach to ensure transparency, liquidity and flexibility in international markets;
– investigating possible anti-competitive behavior in the energy market and tasking the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to further strengthen the monitoring of developments in the carbon market;
– facilitating wider access to renewable energy procurement contracts and supporting them with accompanying measures.
The Communication includes a set of measures that the EU and its Member States can take to address the immediate impact of price increases and to strengthen resilience to future shocks.
Short-term national measures include emergency income support for households, state aid for businesses and targeted tax cuts. The Commission will also support investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency; examine possible measures on energy storage and the purchase of gas reserves; and assess the current organization of the electricity market.
Medium-term measures for a decarbonized and resilient energy system:
- Stepping up investments in renewable energy, renewables and energy efficiency and streamlining renewable energy tenders and licensing and authorization procedures;
- developing energy storage capacity to support the growing share of renewable energy sources, including batteries and hydrogen;
- tasking the European energy regulators (ACER) to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the current electricity market organization and to propose recommendations to the Commission, if appropriate;
- a possible revision of the Security of Supply Regulation to ensure better use and functioning of gas stocks in Europe;
- to examine the potential benefits of a voluntary system of joint purchasing of gas stocks by Member States;
- Establishing new cross-border regional gas panels to analyze gas risks and advise Member States on the development of their national preventive and emergency action plans;
- Strengthening the role of consumers in the energy market, giving them the possibility to choose and change their supplier, to generate their own electricity and to form energy communities.
Read the European Commission Communication here.
Edited for English