Brussels infighting threatens to erupt as energy crisis
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Across Europe, high demand for gas is driving up the costs of energy. In France, the price of gas rose by a staggering 12.6 percent on October 1. In a bid to tackle further spikes in price, the French government is preparing to make one-off payments to citizens.
Prime Minister Jean Castex said the French Government will block further price hikes until at least April 2022, and he added he wants to limit any electricity price rise to four percent.
The French Government will also make a one-off payment of $115 to the 6 million households that receive vouchers to help with the cost of rising energy bills.
Mr Castex said: “For natural gas and electricity, we’ll put in place what I would call a ‘tariffs shield’.
“We’re going to shield ourselves against those tariff hikes.”
On October 13, the European Commission also presented a package of measures available to EU countries.
Socialist MEPs have since said the French Government is not going far enough in tackling the energy crisis, praising the EU’s measures for giving “significant room for manoeuvrability”.
Sylvie Guillaume, Eric Andrieu and Nora Mebarek, Socialist MEPs, said in a statement: “While Europe is organising itself to face the energy crisis, the French government’s reluctance is inexplicable.
“Enough half measures, effective solutions exist and it is time to implement them.”
The MEPs continued to slam Mr Macron and Mr Castex for their “timid” solutions to the energy crisis.
They called for the French Government to double “the amount of the energy voucher, and not just a one-off ‘boost’ of €100”, in addition to a review into the eligibility criteria for the energy voucher
They said: “In this respect, we propose doubling the income threshold below which the voucher can be received.
“The energy voucher must also be paid automatically to all those who are eligible.
“Today, 20 percent of potential recipients do not receive it.”
Other recommendations from the Socialist MEPs included an energy shield for ‘people earning less than €1700 per month’ and lowering energy tax rates for vulnerable households.
It comes after Brexit was blamed for the UK’s energy crisis, as the Bank of England warns energy bills will lead to inflation topping 4 percent this winter.
Neale Richmond, Teachta Dála (Member of Parliament) for Dublin Rathdown, said in September: “If you ask the British Government the reasoning behind this chaos, they claim it is purely down to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This, however, is simply not the whole truth… Clearly, the fault lies with the hard Brexit that the British Government were so determined to see implemented.
“With no other EU Member State facing these issues and turning to the EU to solve these problems, the UK Government are misleading the very people they seek to represent.
“We always knew no Brexit could be a good Brexit but the reality is very stark indeed.”
Lilah Howson-Smith, a senior associate at Global Counsel, a policy advisory firm, told CNN Brexit was to blame for the UK’s energy crisis.
She noted the UK/EU trade deal did not include any agreement on energy, and added: “There isn’t that closeness of cooperation [between the United Kingdom and European Union] on security of [energy] supply.”
A 2016 report commissioned by National Grid also suggested leaving the internal energy market could cause UK energy bills to soar by up to £500 million ($677.8 million) a year.
It said at the time: “Though uncertain, the impact of Brexit on the UK energy system is very likely to be negative.”
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