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Parliamentary questions
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30 November 2021
Answer given by Ms Simson
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-004293/2021

The Commission is concerned by the increase in electricity and gas prices driven mainly by surging global gas prices due to global recovery and tighter supply conditions, and its effect on EU households and companies.

The Commission presented a toolbox(1) with measures that the EU and Member States can take to protect the most vulnerable in the short run(2). Member States can also use emissions trading system(3) revenues to mitigate the impact of price increases.

Exchanges on these measures continue in the Commission’s Energy poverty and vulnerable consumers coordination group, while the Energy Poverty Advisory Hub(4) will promote local actions for energy poverty alleviation.

In the medium-term the Commission calls to continue addressing the causes of vulnerability, which requires energy efficiency investments and building renovations and boosting the role of consumers in the energy market.

The Commission will also consider measures for more effective use of gas storage, explore benefits of joint procurement of reserve gas stocks and propose a new regulatory framework for gas and hydrogen by the end of 2021.

An integrated EU energy market provides the most cost-effective secure and affordable energy supplies through competition creating price signals to drive investments.

Of note also is that the existing legal framework allows Member States, under certain conditions, to apply safeguards such as public interventions in price setting for supply of electricity to energy poor or vulnerable household customers(5) and partial compensation to energy intensive users(6).

Concerning the wholesale electricity market the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators will conduct a study on benefits and drawbacks of the existing market design by April 2022.

(1)Communication ‘Tackling rising energy prices: a toolbox for action and support’, COM/2021/660 final.
(2)Including income support, targeted tax reduction, safeguards to avoid grid disconnections, and deferral of payments.
(3)Directive 2003/87 — https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/FR/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32003L0087
(4)The leading EU initiative on energy poverty launches its new website | European Commission (europa.eu)
(5)Directive (EU) 2019/944 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on common rules for the internal market for electricity — https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32019L0944
(6)EU State aid rules. See, for example, Communication from the Commission Guidelines on certain state aid measures in the context of the system for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading post-2021 , OJ C 317, 25.9.2020, p. 5 — https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52020XC0925%2801%29 .
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