Belgium calls for urgent European energy price cap
A Europe-wide price cap on energy bills needs to be urgently implemented, both Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD, Flemish liberals) and Belgian Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen, Flemish greens) stressed on Sunday. If Europe fails to act quickly, the country will consider implementing a national price cap.
As electricity and natural gas prices reach unprecedented levels, Belgium is advocating a reform of the European energy system. Currently, the most expensive power plant needed to meet demand is setting prices. In this way, the record prices for natural gas are also driving up electricity prices through the gas-fired power stations.
According to Van der Straeten, the system leads to "usurious profits" for electricity producers.
"The reform of the electricity market must ensure that the gas and electricity prices are decoupled," says the energy minister.
This should put an end to excess profits and result in a lower energy bill for consumers. A European price cap could save an average family 770 euros a year, the minister's office calculated.
Belgium submitted a proposal for a European price cap and discussed the proposal with the European Commission this week. According to both De Croo and Van der Straeten, a European energy price cap is steadily gaining ground among the Member States. Germany is said to be in favour, among others.
Van der Straeten wants a price cap "by the end of the year". If Europe hesitates, Belgium could also act alone, Van der Straeten and De Croo say. Purely national measures will however be less effective, according to the government.
Van der Straeten also stressed that she is working on new support measures at a national level. An extension of the extended social rate next year and a capping of that rate is "necessary," says the Energy minister.
Belgian Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten (left) and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (right) © BELGA PHOTO JULIETTE BRUYNSEELS