Faced with the energy crisis, the great European bazaar

Faced with the energy crisis, the great European bazaar



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A once again, the European Union is struggling to meet the challenge. As the energy crisis intensifies across Europe, after the partial shutdown of Russian gas deliveries, as industrial companies decide to shut down due to prohibitive energy costs, as households panic at the sight of their gas and electricity bills having multiplied by five or six in a few months, the extraordinary meeting of European energy ministers on 9 September was unable to establish a rapid and comprehensible action plan .

Even if there was no question of it being conclusive, this meeting was supposed to set the main lines which should normally be presented by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, during her Union speech on September 14. ” There is no more time to lose “had warned the Czech Minister for Industry Jozef Sikela, before the meeting of September 9, supported in his request by the Irish and Polish ministers.

The Belgian Prime Minister had been even more alarmist. “A few weeks like this and the European economy comes to a standstill. To leave after that would be much more complicated than to intervene in the markets today. The risk of all this is deindustrialization and severe risks of social unrest, he explained in an interview with Bloomberg. I see no other solution than to intervene in the markets […]. We will not have a second chance to prove to the 450 million Europeans that we are taking matters into our own hands. Because what we are seeing today is a massive siphoning of prosperity out of the European Union. »

However, despite the urgency of the moment, Europe gives the feeling of having time, that it will always have a second chance.

The diversity of the situations of the European countries, of the climatic conditions they experience, of their past energy and industrial choices, the complexity of the energy markets, make solutions difficult to devise. But the Member States and the European Commission have chosen to confuse the debate a little more. Rather than identifying a few guiding rules that each State could adopt to respond to this critical moment, they preferred to engage in dogmatism, looking for some magic formula, some arbitrary number that would allow them to respond at once to all needs and all expectations, and above all which would not call into question the founding principles of the market, the obvious bankruptcy of which is nevertheless before our eyes.

Coming out of the meeting, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said Europe would present measures this week ” unprecedented “. For his part, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck welcomed the fact that the European Commission is on the right track. He specified that Europe agrees to reduce energy prices and lighten the burden on households. Very good. But how ? Because beyond the major statements of principle, almost everything remains unclear. At this stage, Europe still does not have an answer for households and businesses

Gas installations in northeastern Germany, near the Polish border. © Photo: Odd Andersen / AFP

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