Motion for a resolution - B9-0416/2022Motion for a resolution
B9-0416/2022

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the EU’s response to the increase in energy prices in Europe

    28.9.2022 - (2022/2830(RSP))

    to wind up the debate on the statements by the Council and the Commission
    pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure

    Christian Ehler, Markus Ferber
    on behalf of the PPE Group

    See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0416/2022

    Procedure : 2022/2830(RSP)
    Document stages in plenary
    Document selected :  
    B9-0416/2022
    Texts tabled :
    B9-0416/2022
    Debates :
    Texts adopted :

    B9‑0416/2022

    European Parliament resolution on the EU’s response to the increase in energy prices in Europe

    (2022/2830(RSP))

    The European Parliament,

     having regard to the extraordinary meeting of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council of 9 September 2022,

     having regard to the Commission proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) 2017/1938 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning measures to safeguard the security of gas supply and Regulation (EC) n°715/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on conditions for access to natural gas transmission networks (COM(2022)0135),

     having regard to the Commission communication of 18 May 2022 on the REPowerEU Plan (COM(2022)0230) and to the Versailles Declaration of 10 and 11 March 2022,

     having regard to the Commission communication of 18 May 2022 entitled ‘Short-Term Energy Market Interventions and Long Term Improvements to the Electricity Market Design – a course for action’ (COM(2022)0236),

     having regard to the Commission communication of 13 October 2021 entitled ‘Tackling rising energy prices: a toolbox for action and support’ (COM(2021)0660),

     having regard to Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity[1],

     having regard to the Commission communication of 23 March 2022 entitled ‘Temporary Crisis Framework for State Aid measures to support the economy following the aggression against Ukraine by Russia’ (C/2022/1890),

     having regard to Council Directive (EU) 2022/542 of 5 April 2022 amending Directives 2006/112/EC and (EU) 2020/285 as regards rates of value added tax[2],

     having regard to its resolution of 17 May 2022 entitled ‘The social and economic consequences for the EU of the Russian war in Ukraine – reinforcing the EU’s capacity to act’[3],

     having regard to the European Council conclusions of 24 June 2022,

     having regard to the European Central Bank (ECB) Governing Council’s approval of 21 July 2022 of the Transmission Protection Instrument,

     having regard to the ECB Governing Council’s monetary policy decisions of 21 July and 8 September 2022 to raise ECB interest rates,

     having regard to the Eurostat announcement on inflation in the euro area in August 2022,

     having regard to the informal meeting of economic and financial affairs ministers of 9 and 10 September 2022,

     having regard to ECB staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area of September 2022,

     having regard to the State of the Union address by Commission President von der Leyen at the European Parliament plenary of 14 September 2022,

     having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

    A. whereas Russia’s war of aggression is causing immense suffering for the people of Ukraine and constitutes a direct attack on European values;

    B. whereas Russia’s war of aggression is having a significant impact on the EU’s citizens and the economy, notably through a dramatic rise in energy and food prices;

    C. whereas people are struggling with the socio-economic impact of making ends meet and, alongside low-income households, the middle-income households are also being increasingly affected;

    D. whereas the rising cost of living is already causing millions of Europeans to face tough choices and whereas winter will only exacerbate this situation;

    E. whereas the energy and digital transition will substantially increase the demand for certain types of raw materials, while at the same time, the EU is dependent on only a few countries and companies for its supply of these same materials;

    F. whereas the COVID-19 crisis and the Russian war have led to disrupted supply and value chains, creating supply shortages and resulting in rising production costs;

    G. whereas the cumulative effect of high energy prices, disrupted supply chains, the green transition and new legislation in the pipeline may endanger EU businesses and the jobs they provide in Europe;

    H. whereas the euro area inflation rate gradually reached 9.1 % in August 2022, with almost half of euro countries suffering from double-digit rates and with some hitting as high as 25 % inflation;

    I. whereas the current crises add to the challenges our citizens and economies are already facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic;

    J. whereas companies are suffering from increased production costs owing to higher raw material prices, constrained supply chains and increased transport and energy prices, combined with changing consumer behaviour and the EU’s commitment to achieving its climate targets;

    K. whereas recent developments in the energy markets have had an impact on the energy derivatives markets, creating financial instability and potentially transferring risk from the energy sector to the financial sector;

    Targeted action is needed to fight rising costs

    1. Is deeply concerned about the impact of high energy prices across the EU, especially on households and businesses; recognises that the first response needed to tackle high energy prices is to reduce energy demand and consumption;

    2. Takes note of the informal meeting of economic and financial affairs ministers of 9 and 10 September 2022; calls on the Council to establish a monthly EU Ministerial Council meeting dedicated to the cost of living that brings together ministers from across relevant policy areas, and to report back to Parliament; calls on the Council, in this regard, to better coordinate Member State policies, the exchange of best practices and potential cross-border impacts of divergent national policies;

    3. Takes note of the 2022 State of the Union address by Commission President von der Leyen of 14 September 2022; takes note, in this regard, of the Commission proposal of 14 September for a Council regulation on an emergency intervention to address high energy prices (COM(2022)0473). and of the plans to cap the market revenues that certain producers receive from the generation and sale of electricity and to launch a temporary solidarity contribution for EU companies involved in the oil, gas, coal and refinery sectors in order to contribute to the affordability of energy for households and companies; regrets that the Commission proposed its plans in the form of a Council regulation instead of a legislative codecision procedure; confirms that Parliament stands ready to act swiftly on this pressing issue if called upon;

    4. Welcomes in principle the Commission’s proposal to establish a temporary emergency cap on market revenues obtained from the generation and sale of electricity at European level by using inframarginal generation technologies and requiring a solidarity contribution from the fossil fuel sector, which is benefiting from the current market situation, both of which will generate revenues for Member States to finance measures in support of final electricity customers; demands that the Member States implement these measures as quickly as possible; asks the Commission, further, to look into possible options for liquidity assistance for companies facing high margin calls on the futures markets for electricity and gas;

    5. Expects the Commission to conduct a thorough investigation of the measures implemented by Member States based on its proposals to ensure the objective of burden-easing for final electricity consumers is achieved; stresses the importance of market-based interventions, such as temporary price caps, that do not interfere with the functioning of the EU single market, destroy incentives for energy savings or hinder investments in renewable energies and infrastructure projects; stresses the need to use a part of the collected revenues for the completion of the internal EU energy market, in particular for cross-border infrastructure projects, as this would send further price signals to European energy markets and thus reduce the burden on businesses and people;

    6. Underlines that market interventions could lead to opposite outcomes from the intended reduction in prices and in the consumption of and demand for electricity and gas; is cognizant of the realistic impact the proposed measures will have in the very short term, particularly as the practical collection of these revenues remains unsecured; is concerned that the proposed mechanisms may lead to additional burdens on tax authorities and market markers across Europe, which they may not be able to sustain;

    7. Asks for particular emphasis to be put on mitigating high electricity prices, as affordable electricity is necessary to give the right incentives for the decarbonisation of industry, buildings and transport, and to reduce dependency on Russia;

    8. Supports the idea, as part of REPowerEU, of frontloading around 250 million allowances in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) to generate EUR 20 billion and thereby finance the infrastructure needed to make us less dependent on Russian gas and oil, including investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and technologies such as liquefied natural gas; calls for this intervention to be sped up to mobilise the necessary revenues by the end of 2025; welcomes the fact that this will mitigate ETS prices and thereby electricity prices and energy costs for industry; reiterates its own 2030 climate targets, with which this ETS intervention is fully in line;

    9. Recognises that the cumulative effect of high energy prices and disrupted supply chains may endanger our businesses and the jobs they provide; calls for the burden on businesses to be eased immediately by implementing a regulatory moratorium on acts that would unnecessarily increase costs for businesses already under strain (such as REACH[4]);

    10. Urges the Member States to decrease regulatory burdens on the installation and uptake of renewable energies, in particular for households, by removing administrative barriers and simplifying permitting, while bearing in mind that the overregulation of renewable energy sources currently hinders their accelerated deployment and an effective increase in supply, for example, owing to curtailment necessities and existing state support schemes; calls, in this spirit, not only for a regulatory moratorium but also for deregulation, as cutting red tape is important for increasing energy production in the private sector and would also motivate households to manage their energy efficiency;

    11. Is ready to carefully analyse any proposals from the Commission on changes to the design of the electricity and gas markets; states that the current high prices for electricity and gas are not a problem of market design itself, but stem from unreliable third country supplier manipulations, as well as a lack of supply and increased demand as part of the European economy’s rebound after the COVID-19 pandemic;

    12. Recognises that, since the outbreak of the war, a majority of the Member States have used some of the existing flexibility provided by EU legislation; recalls its resolution of 17 March 2022 entitled ‘The social and economic consequences for the EU of the Russian war in Ukraine – reinforcing the EU’s capacity to act’; encourages the Member States to acknowledge that more can be done through joint and coordinated European action;

    13. Calls on the Council and the Commission to engage more actively at the European level and be a part of a comprehensive solution to address our imminent challenges and to coordinate in organising solidarity, securing the energy supply, stabilising price levels and helping businesses to grow;

    14. Calls on the Member States to strike the right balance between reaching those most in need and not unnecessarily fuelling inflation, by further delivering on results that best enable, facilitate and reinforce targeted support measures;

    15. Takes note of the existing frameworks allowing Member States to apply reduced rates on certain motor fuels; calls for the possibility of applying 0 % VAT rates to certain products to be explored, while still maintaining a stable source of revenue;

    16. Calls on the Commission to consider giving Member States space to introduce further temporary exemptions or reductions on excise duties and energy taxes to alleviate the burden on households and businesses;

    17. Calls on the Member States to use additional tax revenues collected as a direct result of higher energy prices to relieve the burden on citizens and small and medium-sized enterprises;

    18. Calls on the Member States to consider exempting staple foods (such as unprocessed fruit and vegetables and dairy products) from VAT throughout the entire EU for the duration of the crises; calls, in this regard, on the Commission and the Member States to guarantee that competition authorities and market surveillance provide effective monitoring and enforcement to ensure that the reduction is passed to citizens;

    19. Calls on the Commission to make sure that all requests by Member States for temporary exemptions or reductions are dealt with quickly and consistently and that all relief action actually reaches households and businesses;

    20. Notes that several Member States, where fiscal space has allowed, have increased minimum wages in line with national practices in order to reduce the impact of the double crisis on workers and households in a targeted manner and to help address labour shortages in certain sectors, without creating a wage-price spiral;

    Saving energy

    21. Strongly believes that energy efficiency across all sectors will be crucial both in the short term to mitigate the effects of energy shortages and in the long term to reduce consumer and industry costs;

    22. Calls on the Member States, in coordination with the Commission, to develop energy conservation guidance for businesses, industry and households, so that they can prepare for the winter ahead and improve energy efficiency; believes that this should include advice on energy usage and proactive information on funding schemes for home renovations for households;

    23. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop detailed information campaigns on practical, effective and realistic savings tips for cost of living and energy costs in the EU’s official languages, including information on consumer rights across the EU;

    24. Calls for more support for renovations and for easier access to bank lending for deep renovations, such as the insulation of buildings;

    25. Calls for more environmentally friendly initiatives, such as vouchers for travellers who use railways or public transport instead of automobiles; calls on the Member States to consider premium incentives in favour of consumers, especially micro and small businesses and households, who decrease their use of gas and energy, particularly during peak hours, in order to encourage virtuous behaviours and demand reduction;

    Monetary policy – the role of the ECB

    26. Recalls that, while respecting the ECB’s independence, the primary objective of monetary policy and of the ECB’s mandate is to maintain price stability, and that monetary policy is therefore the most powerful tool for fighting inflation; recognises that the ECB has traditionally had a strong track record in keeping inflation at bay; observes that higher interest rates have a two-sided impact on lowering inflation expectations and simultaneously increasing borrowing costs;

    27. Calls on the ECB to step up its speed and determination in raising interest rates for as long as its forecasts remain unchanged; takes note that, with the launch of the Transmission Protection Instrument, the ECB created more flexible conditions for raising interest rates;

    28. Calls on the ECB to develop a credible communication strategy backed up by swift and tangible action to convince European citizens that it means business when it comes to fighting inflation;

    29. Calls on the ECB to monitor the euro’s external value and its interaction with other developed economies, while focusing on price stability, to avoid even higher ‘imported inflation’; takes note that the euro’s slide against the dollar is particularly concerning, given that energy derivatives are traded in dollars and are becoming more and more expensive for European wholesale buyers; is alarmed that the recent decline in the euro/dollar exchange rate has therefore become a major contributor to energy price inflation; calls on the ECB to act in lockstep with other large central banks, in particular the US Federal Reserve, to prevent any further deterioration of the euro’s external value;

    Rethinking energy supply in Europe

    30. Underlines that the creation of a fully integrated single market for energy that provides for a truly resilient European energy network, including the construction of new interconnectors, as shown by the one connecting the Iberian Peninsula with France, and better trading platforms, would alleviate the price pressure on businesses and consumers in the short term, and establish energy independence and resilience in the long term. recognises that the reform of the EU’s internal energy market must be pursued more consistently, that overly high dependencies need to be avoided and that key infrastructure needs to remain in EU hands; considers that all options must be on the table to keep energy affordable and to achieve climate neutrality;

    31. Stresses that investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy infrastructure, particularly cross-border projects, should be accelerated to avoid future energy shocks to the EU economy, including investments through the NextGenerationEU recovery plan and REPowerEU; calls on the Commission and the Member States to prioritise and fast-track procedures for key cross-border energy infrastructure, focusing in particular on increasing the flows from west to east and removing current bottlenecks;

    32. Calls for the establishment of a European energy resource inventory to collect information from the Member States on their available and potential energy resources for the purposes of better coordination, in order to accelerate necessary procedures and to optimise the energy grid; considers that, on this basis, Member States could develop their ‘go-to’ areas in line with the REPowerEU plan;

    33. Believes that the Member States should reconsider their nuclear and coal phase-outs if some of these power plants can contribute to the security of the EU’s energy supply and to holding energy prices down; considers that the extension of the service time of the existing nuclear power plants should be done while ensuring their safe operation and the correct management and disposal of nuclear waste; highlights that, in the case of coal, the postponement should be temporary, for just as long as the current crisis lasts, and should be accompanied by a concrete calendar for its substitution with other energy sources;

    Diversifying supply and value chains

    34. Recognises that the EU needs to shorten supply chains and re-shore essential production procedures to increase resilience and its strategic autonomy; calls on the Commission and the Member States to reinforce measures that will have a rapid effect on the reindustrialisation of Europe and to create future-proof jobs by working with international partners to remove existing barriers to global competition and revive free trade;

    35. Welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a European Critical Raw Materials Act, which identifies strategic projects in the supply chain and builds strategic reserves for the Union; calls for a diversification strategy to ensure the supply of critical raw materials, including rare earth metals, through, inter alia, the creation of an important project of common European interest; calls on the Member States to further explore sustainable mining activities and sourcing possibilities; welcomes the Commission’s efforts to conclude new critical raw material partnerships with African countries;

    36. Recalls that the disruptions in energy supply driven by Russia’s unjustified aggression against Ukraine have created volatility and instability in the financial markets, particularly in the energy derivatives markets, and that this may have a cascade effect on the financial markets as a whole;

    37. Stresses that it is important to assess any potential policy measures so as to avoid transferring risk from the energy sector to the financial sector, and calls on the Commission to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of any measure it plans to put forward;

    38. Welcomes that the Commission gave the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) the mandate to look into various issues related to the current level of margins and excessive volatility in energy derivatives markets; invites the Commission to look carefully into ESMA’s analysis of circuit breakers, collateral and margins management, commodity clearing thresholds, improved regulatory reporting on commodity derivatives trading and the ‘ancillary activity exemption’, and to follow-up where appropriate;

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    39. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

     

    Last updated: 29 September 2022
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