1st Dec 2022

EU debates national energy plans amid calls for more coordination

  • 'Economic divergences in the EU could be deepened, and European unity on Russia undermined', one expert warned (Photo: Nikon Ranger)
Listen to article

EU finance ministers are discussing how governments should respond to high energy prices amid warnings the EU financial system is at risk, with sessions scheduled on Monday and Tuesday (3 and 4 October)

"We are going to discuss what kind of support EU member states are providing," EU commissioner for economy Valdis Drombrovski's said at arrival on Monday. "Also to the extend it happens in a coordinated way."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Ahead of the meetings, eyebrows were raised when Germany last week moved ahead with a €200bn "economic defence shield" to protect households and businesses against high energy prices.

Italian outgoing premier Mario Dragi slammed the plan as being unfair. "Faced with the common threats of our times, we cannot divide ourselves according to the amount of room in our national budgets," he said Thursday.

His replacement Giorgia Meloni, whose far-right Brothers of Italy party came top in last month's election, also backed "an immediate European response" to the energy crisis. "No member state can offer effective and long-term solutions on its own," she said.

But "no new joint EU financing is on the table this week," one EU official, speaking anonymously, told EUobserver. "Discussions will focus on national measures."

Most of the EU's €800bn pandemic recovery fund has yet to be invested, which —according to some EU member states, including the Netherlands and Sweden — should be spent first.

But experts have warned the lack of coordination among EU governments could lead some countries to do better than others.

"If the German gas-price brake gives German business a much better chance to survive the crisis than, say, Italian business," Simone Tagliapietra argued in a report published on Friday for the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel. "Economic divergences in the EU could be deepened, and European unity on Russia undermined."

Coordinated response

The meeting of finance ministers comes in the wake of an unprecedented warning about "severe" threats to financial stability from the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB).

Energy inflation and higher borrowing costs have increased the risk of recession which, combined with the uncertainty caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, could spill over and cause a full-blown financial crisis, the group warned on Thursday.

It was the first "general warning" the ESRB has issued since its creation, in response to the financial crisis in 2010.

In a letter addressed to the council seen by EUobserver, ESRB chief Francesco Mazzaferro called for a "coordinated response."

"All relevant authorities should avail themselves of all possible micro- and macroprudential tools to contain these risks," he wrote.


EU summit and Sakharov Prize This WEEK

The EU Commission on Tuesday is expected to put forward emergency measures on energy — but it is not clear if it will include price-caps, before leaders discuss the plans at a summit in the second half of the week.


How the gas lobby is fuelling the cost-of-living crisis

An investigation by COE reveals oil and gas lobbyists have enjoyed unprecedented access to EU decision-making. As a result, a series of critical decisions on tax, energy-infrastructure, and regulation put fossil-fuel industry profits above millions at risk of energy poverty.

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  2. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  3. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs
  4. Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?
  5. Why the EU asbestos directive revision ... needs revising
  6. Nato renews membership vow to Ukraine
  7. Catalan spyware victims demand justice
  8. Is the overwhelming critique of Qatar hypocritical?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us