The S&D Group in the European Parliament said it considers the Winter Preparedness Action Plan, presented by the European Commission, as a “timely and yet insufficient step.”
They say it can “go towards solving a possible energy crisis, that might hit our continent long before the cold months, due to the current heat wave in Europe and the increased consumption of electricity for air-conditioning.”
According to the Socialists and Democrats, the unprecedented disruption of the gas supply combined with resulting record hikes of energy prices and inflation rates will have an unpredictable and devastating social and economic impact throughout the EU during this winter.
Mohammed Chahim MEP, S&D vice-president responsible for the energy aspects of the Green Deal, said: “We hear more and more often how the EU has to tighten its belt in order to survive this major crisis it is going through. Yet, we, the Socialists and Democrats, are convinced it would be extremely unfair if we make the most vulnerable among us, including low-income households and elderly persons, tighten their belts while energy companies with skyrocketing profits pay little or no share of the burden. For this reason, we call on member states and the European Commission to introduce taxation for windfall profits. This is indispensable in order to finance the Winter Preparedness Action Plan, presented today by the European Commission, as well as REPowerEU – the plan to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels and fast-forward the green transition.”
“We live in a historical moment where old partnerships with third countries for gas imports have proven to be untrustworthy, so new, or already existing, partnerships have to be further strengthened. But above all the lesson learnt by the EU in the last couple of months is that we have to count mostly on ourselves. Winter is coming and we welcome the fact the European Commission is ready to suggest measures. Yet, it would be unacceptable if this happens under a procedure bypassing the European Parliament.”
Dan Nica MEP, S&D spokesperson in the European Parliament’s committee on industry, research and energy, said: “In February, Russia declared war on Ukraine with military means, and now we are seeing how theKremlin is declaring war on the European Union with economic means using the EU import of Russian energy raw materials. Our citizens ask for measures and this is why we, the Socialists and Democrats, find it crucial to address and reduce at the European level the gap between natural gas acquisition prices and wholesale market prices. Any possibilities for market manipulations must be immediately cut. We also have to limit the number of intermediaries between producers and buyers if we want electricity bills amounts to drop. We expect more efforts by the European Commission in the direction of disconnecting natural gas prices from electricity prices.”
“Winter preparedness for our group also means we have to be ready for the consequences on employment from gas shortages. We have to extend existing EU financial instruments created in the times of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE). Such an instrument should also cover the social impact of the current energy crisis and the idea deserves a proper and thorough debate at an EU social summit – something our group has long been calling for.”