“Send them to Moscow”: von der Leyen washes her hands of skyrocketing energy bills
Today, in response to The Left’s Manon Aubry, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told citizens that they could send their energy bills to Moscow. Shortsighted and flippant, the Commission President’s retort is telling.
It is almost a year to the day since the European Commission was first asked to analyse the energy price surge and instead of understanding the sense of urgency, EU institutions have stalled, delayed and postponed vital decisions.
The Commission’s long-awaited plan to tackle the energy crisis is finally here. There are measures to help reduce consumption, a temporary “solidarity contribution” taxing just 33% of extra profits of certain energy providers, a new EU taskforce to determine reliable and unreliable energy suppliers and a vague statement on “deep and comprehensive” reform of the electricity market.
The Commission did not propose a genuine gas price cap and suggested instead a ceiling that is so high that multinationals will continue to turn high profits. These measures will not deliver the change needed to stop pensioners freezing in their homes, black-outs, disconnections and businesses going bankrupt this winter.
What is fundamentally missing is the failure to take responsibility for the rotten energy market. On the contrary: the Commission defends it: “the energy market is helping to mitigate the crisis”. How can we continue to support a system that swells the wallets of the few and leaves families and workers in the dark and cold?
Reacting to the Commission’s announcements MEP Sira Rego (Unidas Podemos, Spain) said: “So far, the European Commission has only given us empty headlines, one of them particularly worrying, talking about injecting liquidity into future markets. The specific measures that we expect to hear from Brussels must state that public resources are used to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people and working families, as well as the strategic sectors of the economy. These measures cannot shield and protect speculative operations, increasing and generating a bubble”.
The liberalisation of the gas market has led to greater price volatility and created a new speculative gas market out of what should be a public good. The only answer to this crisis is to build a fair energy model under public control. The Left calls for an immediate price cap at pre-crisis level, a windfall tax and a ban on disconnections. The group also proposes a rapid expansion of renewable energies and a fair energy-saving plan that does not just ask for sacrifices from people who have nothing left to sacrifice.
MEP Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany) said: “If we want to prevent the social disaster coming, we need an immediate EU-wide ban of power cuts and the full protection of people from the price explosion for which they are not responsible. This can only be done with a radical excess profits tax and genuine price capping. With a “revenue cap” and then still at €180 per MWh, the Commission does not solve the problems, but continues to secure large profits for the multinationals, because to the Commission the market is sacred and not the people.”
MEP Marisa Matias (Bloco de Esquerda, Portugal) added: “Almost a year has gone and, finally, some of the necessary measures to tackle the energy crisis start to be announced, such as limiting the immoral profits of the energy companies. Nevertheless, the main characteristic of the commission’s approach is too little, too late. The system it’s deeply wounded and the Commission keeps using band aids. The pressure must be done to have structural answers that can properly protect those who are paying the bill.”
The Left in the European Parliament launched the “Power to the People” campaign last autumn, calling for both short and long term measures to tackle the root causes of price volatility.
On 30 September, another extraordinary meeting of the Energy Council will evaluate the Commission’s plan. The Left demands that member states rise to the urgent challenge we face. Europe’s energy market should be determined by the needs of people and not profits.
You can join our campaign Power to the People at act.left.eu