The Netherlands and other EU Member States must solve the acute problems with their high energy prices themselves. Brussels has little more to offer than a ‘toolbox’ of instruments they can use. Most of them, including in the Netherlands, have already been deployed.
Brussels, asked at the beginning of last week for an analysis of the causes of the energy crisis and proposals for solutions, thus puts the ball back to the member states. They can assist their most vulnerable households with income supplements, vouchers or a one-off payment, a temporary reduction in energy tax, deferred payment of their energy bill or help to avoid being closed in the event of default.
Within the European state aid and competition rules, they can also lend a helping hand to their SMEs. Money can’t be a problem, because emissions trading brought the Member States no less than 10.8 billion extra in the first nine months of this year. In any case, it will only be a period of six months, because next spring – according to EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson this afternoon – prices will fall again, albeit not completely to the level of the past.
“Citizens all over Europe have problems with their energy bills, but the situation differs from country to country. That is why Member States are best placed to solve the short-term problems surrounding high energy prices,” said Simson. In the medium and long term, Brussels sees a role for itself. In this way, together with the Member States, it wants to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy.
In this way, Europe limits both costs and its energy dependence on third countries and, as a result, also the risk of shocks. In the medium term, gas will remain important. There, Europe and the Member States must ensure more and better (spread) storage, joint purchasing and combating market manipulation. The gas storage capacity now covers 20 percent of the annual requirement, but the facilities differ from country to country.
Additional nuclear energy
Incidentally, the stocks are slowly increasing again (now 77 percent), partly due to promised extra deliveries from Norway. Brussels also expressly wants more storage capacity in batteries and hydrogen to store electricity from sustainable sources. The Commission does not (yet) have an opinion on the possible use of additional nuclear energy, which France, for example, is strongly urging. Studies on this are still ongoing.
A handicap for Brussels is that for energy policy reasons it can call for diversity in sources, but Member States still determine their own energy mix. This will decrease as a result of climate policy, because fossil fuels will disappear by themselves, with a temporary exception for gas.
High energy prices and medium and long-term energy policy are two of the main agenda items for a summit of heads of state and government in Brussels next week. The following week, they are the main menu at a meeting of EU energy ministers.
Watch our trending news videos in the playlist below:
Free unlimited access to Showbytes? Which can!
Log in or create an account and never miss a thing from the stars.