Vulnerable households, already under severe cost of living pressure, have been “effectively ignored” by a commission plans for dealing with the energy crisis, says the European Left Group.
It says new measures, drafted in collaboration with Europe’s major energy corporations, confirm that the EU is set to double down on its commitment to a failed energy market ahead of a potentially brutal winter for workers and families.
The text proposes to coordinate the alert stages in case of disruption of gas supply at the EU level and recommends actions to be taken at the various stages. The Commission proposes to intervene on three macro-axes: a) switching of supply – including the possibility of switching to coal and act in derogation of the Industrial Emissions Directive and of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive; b) market-based instruments to compensate the industries which voluntarily use less gas; c) consumption reductions in the summer, starting with information campaigns leading to compulsory cutbacks should energy stocks be insufficient for the winter.
“The European Commission is prepared to consider emergency instruments, such as compulsory energy rationing, but it refuses to consider energy as a right and to shield people from ineffective and dangerous market logics,” argues MEP Marisa Matias (Bloco de Esquerda, Portugal) on the publication of the Commission communication “Save energy for a safe winter”.
The recommendations show little consideration for the impact of these measures on vulnerable households, already hit by this winter’s prices, let alone any instruments to protect them.
“We are faced with the possibility that an industry that chooses to switch to coal consumption will receive an incentive from the public purse, while energy-poor households will continue to fend for themselves in a market with skyrocketing prices, and will also be accused of not making enough sacrifices to cope with the international crisis” comments MEP Sira Rego (Unidas Podemos, Spain). “Why is gas still left to determine the price of the rest of the energy? Why is there no a cap on prices? Why isn’t taxation of windfall profits implemented throughout Europe?”
The Left in the European Parliament launched a campaign last fall, advocating a fair energy model based on renewables and under public control. It calls for short-term measures to shield vulnerable households, such as a ban on disconnections and price caps, as well as a radical change in the market so as to finally tackle the root causes of price volatility.
“It is absurd that energy is the subject of speculation on the Amsterdam stock exchange. Treating it like a commodity means nothing more than continuing to expose Europe to gas blackmail. We need a radical change, not empty slogans of reassurance. The EU is right to want to end its dependence on Russian fossil fuels, which it should have done so much earlier, but replacing it with dependence on fossil fuels from countries such as Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia will keep us locked into gas for decades, dependent on untrustworthy authoritarian regimes.”, said MEP Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany)
On 26 July, an extraordinary meeting of the Energy Council evaluated the Commission’s plan. The Left demands that member states rise to the immense challenge we face. The EU’s agenda must not be shaped by Big Energy businesses which only respond to the logic of their profits, not the needs of the people in Europe.