Security of supply and affordable energy prices: Options for immediate measures and preparing for next winter

Author (Corporate)
Series Details COM (2022) 138
Publication Date 23/03/2022
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Communication published by the European Commission on 23 March 2022, setting out the options for energy market intervention at EU and national level and assessing advantages and disadvantages of each option.

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Retail prices of natural gas and electricity have risen over the last year. Russia's invasion of Ukraine added supply concerns to an already difficult situation and exacerbated the price volatility. High energy prices feed inflation and hurt the economy across the European Union (EU), also impacting the recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis.

In October 2021, the European Commission adopted a toolbox for action and support to mitigate the effects on consumers and businesses at EU and Member State level. In March 2022, the Commission's REPowerEU Communication provided further guidance to Member States on how to mitigate the increase in electricity for households and businesses, and on how to use high profits earned by some electricity producers to finance these measures. In the same month, the European Council agreed to phase out the EU's dependency on Russian gas, oil and coal imports as soon as possible, and invited the Commission to table a plan to ensure security of supply and affordable energy prices during the forthcoming winter season. EU leaders also committed to address and consider option for dealing with the impact of increased energy prices, building on REPowerEU.

This Communication responds to the invitation of the European Council. It presents the benefits and drawbacks of concrete exceptional short-term options to temper price spikes. It also proposes collective EU actions to address the root causes of the problem in the gas market with a view to ensure security of supply at reasonable prices. To this end, EU partnerships with third countries would allow collective purchases of gas and hydrogen.

This Communication was published by the European Commission on 23 March 2022, alongside a proposal establishing a gas storage policy for the European Union.

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Commentary and Analysis
Reuters: Analysis, 21/03/2022: Europe split on how to spare consumers energy price pain
Politico, 23/03/2022: Why reining in electricity prices is a lot tougher than it looks

Euronews, 23/03/2022: Brussels aims to coordinate gas purchases in bid to lower costs

European Commission: Press Release, 23/03/2022: Commission outlines options to mitigate high energy prices with common gas purchases and minimum gas storage obligations

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