Joint motion for a resolution - RC-B9-0416/2022Joint motion for a resolution
RC-B9-0416/2022

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

    4.10.2022 - (2022/2830(RSP))

    pursuant to Rule 132(2) and (4) of the Rules of Procedure
    replacing the following motions:
    B9‑0416/2022 (PPE)
    B9‑0420/2022 (S&D)
    B9‑0422/2022 (Renew)

    Christian Ehler, Markus Ferber
    on behalf of the PPE Group
    Mohammed Chahim, Dan Nica
    on behalf of the S&D Group
    Martina Dlabajová, Stéphanie Yon‑Courtin
    on behalf of the Renew Group


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

    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 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

     having regard to Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources[1],

     having regard to Directive (EU) 2018/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 amending Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency[2],

     having regard to Directive (EU) 2018/844 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings and Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency[3],

     having regard to Regulation (EU) 2019/943 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on the internal market for electricity[4],

     having regard to 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 and amending Directive 2012/27/EU[5],

     having regard to Regulation (EU) 2017/1938 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2017 concerning measures to safeguard the security of gas supply[6],

     having regard to Regulation (EU) 2021/1119 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 June 2021 establishing the framework for achieving climate neutrality and amending Regulations (EC) No 401/2009 and (EU) 2018/1999 (‘European Climate Law’)[7],

     having regard to Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity[8],

     having regard to the Commission proposal for a Council regulation on an emergency intervention to address high energy prices (COM(2022)0473),

     having regard to the Commission communication of 18 May 2022 on short-term 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 the Commission communication of 8 March 2022 entitled ‘REPowerEU: Joint European Action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy’ (COM(2022)0108),

     having regard to the Commission communication of 18 May 2022 on the REPowerEU Plan (COM(2022)0230),

     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 the European Pillar of Social Rights action plan,

     having regard to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and in particular the 2015 Paris Agreement thereof, which entered into force on 4 November 2016,

     having regard to the conclusions of the European Council summit of 24 and 25 March 2022,

     having regard to its resolution of 21 October 2021 on the climate, energy and environmental State aid guidelines (CEEAG)[9],

     having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2020 on the European Green Deal[10],

     having regard to its resolution of 21 January 2021 on access to decent and affordable housing for all[11],

     having regard to its resolution of 10 February 2021 on the New Circular Economy Action Plan[12],

     having regard to Rule 132(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

    A. 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, is causing immense suffering for the people of Ukraine and constitutes a direct attack on European values;

    B. whereas the euro area inflation rate gradually reached 10 % in September 2022, with more than half of euro area countries suffering from double-digit rates and with some hitting as high as 24 % inflation;

    C. whereas already in 2020, before the spiral of rising prices began, about 36 million Europeans were unable to keep their homes adequately warm; whereas more than 50 million households in the EU already experience energy poverty and whereas this major challenge will be further exacerbated by the current energy crisis, leading to possible delays in access to basic needs, care, education and healthcare, in particular for children and young people;

    D. whereas plants across a broad range of European industries such as steel, aluminium, fertilisers and the power industry itself have been forced to put workers on furlough and shut down production lines, as the high gas and power prices are causing businesses to sustain losses; whereas these closures have a domino effect on other industries hit by the supply shocks and could do long-term damage to Europe’s industrial base;

    E. 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;

    F. whereas the soaring price of power has pushed up the margin requirements for electricity producers, which are hedging their sales on the futures market to unprecedented levels;

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

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

    I. whereas the 20th principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights on access to essential services states that everyone has the right to access essential services of good quality, including water, sanitation, energy, transport, financial services and digital communications; whereas access to these services should be available;

    J. whereas the EU framework on services of general economic interest should be updated to better protect vulnerable consumers from the current situation;

    K. whereas in her State of the Union address on 14 September 2022, the President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen stated that Russia is continuing to actively manipulate our energy market;

    L. whereas spot gas prices recorded at the Dutch Title Transfer Facility (TTF), which had remained below 25 EUR/MWh in the last four years, have increased sharply since August 2021, in particular since the start of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, reaching more than 200 EUR/MWh in mid-August 2022, where they have remained; whereas Russia’s actions are an example of an unprovoked attack on the EU gas market;

    M. whereas the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has declared that while ‘open and well-functioning commodity derivatives markets play an essential role for price discovery’, due to the recent period of extreme stress, ‘measures to contain excessive volatility could be helpful in improving the overall functioning’ of those markets; whereas ESMA also pointed out that the framework of the second Market Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) already provides for ‘a set of volatility mechanisms (notably trading halts and price collars)’, while noting that ‘in the extreme circumstances that commodity derivatives markets (and energy markets in particular) have experienced over the past months, the number of times that trading halts have been triggered on the relevant EU trading venues seems to be very low’[13];

    N. whereas in her State of the Union address on 14 September 2022, the Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated that the Commission’s proposal will raise more than EUR 140 billion ‘for Member States to cushion the blow directly’; whereas several Member States have introduced temporary schemes for a tax on windfall profits;

    O. whereas Member States should be the main actors responsible for their own energy mix, for identifying the main issues faced by their citizens and economies, and for resolving them;

    P. whereas the dramatic increase in electricity prices is putting pressure on households, numerous European citizens, in particular those at risk of poverty and those from vulnerable groups, non-governmental organisations, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and industry, and risks causing wider social and economic harm;

    Q. whereas the assessment by the EU Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators of the EU Wholesale Electricity Market Design showed that cross-border trade delivered EUR 34 billion of benefits to consumers in 2021, while helping to smoothen price volatility, and that it enhances each Member State’s security of supply and resilience to price shocks;

    R. whereas saving and reducing energy constitutes an affordable, safe and clean option to reduce the EU’s reliance on fossil fuel imports from Russia; whereas EU Member States save only 0.8 % of final energy consumption;

    Introductory considerations

    1. Considers that the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine and the weaponisation of fossil energy supply has dramatically exacerbated existing instability in the energy market; deplores the fact that this situation has further increased energy prices and thus led to extremely high inflation, rising social inequalities, energy and mobility poverty, high food prices and a cost of living crisis, and that a significant risk of closure for businesses across different sectors and unemployment persists;

    2. Is deeply concerned about high energy prices across the EU and calls on the Member States to immediately tackle the impact of this and of the associated inflation on household incomes, health and well-being, particularly for the most vulnerable people, as well as on businesses, including SMEs, and the economy in general;

    3. Believes that exceptional times require exceptional emergency measures, where the EU needs to act together and in a united a fashion as ever; insists that all measures adopted at EU level to fight the energy prices crisis must be fully compatible with the Union’s climate goals in the long term, including the European Green Deal, and advance the EU’s open strategic autonomy; asks the Commission, in this respect, to analyse the cumulative impacts of EU and national emergency measures, ensuring that they are consistent with the Union’s objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest; insists that all of the measures proposed should acknowledge the diversity of national circumstances and therefore grant the necessary flexibility for their implementation; calls for the Member States and economic actors to show greater solidarity in order to tackle this crisis fairly;

    Impact on citizens and the economy

    4. Urges the Member States to ensure access to affordable and clean heating and electricity and to avoid people being obliged to choose between eating or heating; alerts Member States that consumers that cannot afford their rising energy bills should not be cut off and underlines the need to avoid home evictions for vulnerable households that are unable to pay their bills and rental costs;

    5. Calls on the Member States to put in place plans and strategies in the areas of housing, access to basic social needs, the protection of social infrastructure, critical healthcare services and financial assistance to SMEs; highlights that this support should be particularly targeted to those population groups in the most critical situation;

    6. Stresses that households across the Member States face significant challenges such as the erosion of their purchasing power; highlights that many people in Europe were already in vulnerable situations before and warns that related inflation, in particular rising food and energy prices, may make the situation unbearable for low-income households, with the middle class being increasingly affected; calls on the Member States to consider exempting staple foods from VAT throughout the entire EU for the duration of the crisis, to facilitate access to essential goods and tackle food shortages and rising housing prices;

    7. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to inform citizens and businesses, in particular SMEs, on how they can prepare for the winter ahead and on how to improve energy efficiency and reduce their energy demand, including practical, effective and realistic saving tips around the cost of living and energy costs, as well as information on consumer rights; encourages the Member States to promote energy-saving devices for vulnerable households;

    8. Asks the Member States to consider providing temporary support to vulnerable transport users in order to help absorb the increase in prices, including public transport vouchers; calls for the adoption of structural policies to further promote reliable and affordable public transportation networks and active modes of mobility, such as cycling or walking;

    9. Calls on the Member States to address the impact of the energy crisis on the labour market by supporting workers who are temporarily in ‘technical unemployment’ because employers were forced to limit or suspend their activity, including solo self‑employed workers, and by providing assistance to small businesses to retain staff and maintain their activities; recalls that short-time working arrangements proved their worth in the pandemic and should be implemented, with EU financial support where necessary, to avoid job losses; calls on the Commission and the Council to reinforce the European instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) to support short-time work schemes, workers’ income and workers that would be temporarily laid-off because of the increase in energy prices;

    10. Calls on the Member States to support companies in the face of soaring prices, in consultation with the representatives of employers and employees in the sectors that are witnessing the greatest impact, and to implement anti-crisis measures including through social dialogue and collective bargaining; calls on the Commission to take the necessary measures to help energy-intensive industries, including offering due guarantees on environmental protection and on maintaining employment;

    11. Stresses that social guarantees are key in the current crisis and urges the Member States and the Commission to involve trade unions to design and implement anti-crisis measures through social dialogue;

    12. Recognises that the cumulative effect of high energy prices and disrupted supply chains may endanger European businesses and the jobs they provide; calls for the burden on businesses, particularly SMEs, to be eased immediately;

    13. Underlines that the primary objective of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) monetary policy is to maintain price stability, and thus ensure that inflation is low, stable and predictable; recalls that the ECB’s target inflation rate is 2 %;

    Climate commitments, deployment of renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure

    14. Recalls that the cheapest energy is that which we do not consume and that energy efficiency and energy-saving measures will not only help the EU in the short term, but will also help us to achieve the Union’s 2030 climate commitments contained in the Fit for 55 package and the RePowerEU initiative, such as the reduction of gas imports and consumption;

    15. Believes that achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal will make our energy systems more efficient, more renewables-based, stronger in the face of crises and more resilient to external shocks, ensure stable and affordable energy and contribute to open strategic autonomy;

    16. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, as it is the best way to end dependency on natural gas and to meet the Union’s climate commitments; recalls the ongoing recasts of Directive (EU) 2018/2001 (RED III and RED IV), and is convinced that a quick completion of the legislative procedures will accelerate the roll-out of renewables across the EU;

    17. Stresses that residential heating must be decarbonised through smart electrification and affordable, renewable-based district heating solutions; calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase support for building renovations, and to provide adequate funding for investments in energy efficiency measures, in particular for buildings with the poorest energy performance and the most vulnerable neighbourhoods; welcomes the decision of some Member States to ban the instalment of gas boilers in new buildings; stresses the importance and immediate benefits of rapidly deploying solar energy in buildings, nearby renewables, heat pumps as well as other fast and easy-to-install solutions;

    18. Encourages the Commission and the Member States to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy sources, in particular by removing administrative barriers and simplifying and accelerating permitting processes, including for households;

    19. Supports the idea, as part of REPowerEU, of auctioning allowances in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) as an exceptional measure 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 and energy efficiency; calls for this intervention to be sped up to mobilise the necessary revenues by the end of 2025; welcomes the fact that this could have the potential effect of mitigating ETS prices in the short term and thus electricity prices and energy costs for industry, while recognising that the ETS is not the main driver of the recent increase in energy prices; reiterates its own 2030 climate targets, with which this ETS intervention is fully in line;

    20. Stresses that real-time electricity price signals can unlock more flexible demand, in turn reducing expensive and gas-intensive peak supply needs; calls on the Member States, therefore, to better manage the flexibility needs of EU power systems through enhanced grids, dispatchable low-emissions generation, and various large-scale and long-term energy storage technologies in order to reduce industrial electricity and gas demand in peak hours;

    21. Calls on the Member States to fully transpose Directive (EU) 2018/2001, particularly in order to remove obstacles to the creation of energy communities; calls on the Member States to adopt further action for renewable self-consumption; calls on Member States to create the appropriate conditions for the development of at least one renewable energy community per municipality, so that citizens can produce, consume, store and resell their own renewable energy;

    22. Calls for the ongoing legislative procedure on the Energy Efficiency Directive to be accelerated, as its provisions will help users to reduce their energy consumption and thus reduce their energy expenditure;

    23. 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 demonstrated by that 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, thereby fostering open strategic autonomy; considers that all options must be on the table to keep energy affordable and to achieve climate neutrality;

    24. Stresses that investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and the necessary infrastructure, including targeted, well-defined cross-border projects with investments through NextGenerationEU and REPowerEU, help the EU to achieve energy sovereignty, open strategic autonomy and energy security; calls on the Commission and the Member States to accelerate such key infrastructure projects based on renewable energy and clean hydrogen by facilitating permitting process, while paying due regard to public participation and environmental impact assessment procedures;

    25. Express concern about the recent act of sabotage on Nord Stream infrastructure and the reports of unidentified drones detected near oil and gas platforms on the Norwegian continental shelf; draws attention to the fact that these incidents provoked a spike in gas prices on TTF markets and that the methane leaks caused ‘a climate and ecological disaster’;

    26. Stresses that the intentional disruption of European energy infrastructure has the potential to significantly exacerbate the current energy crisis, including at a macro‑regional level; urges the Member States and energy companies to immediately adopt measures to step up the security of their energy infrastructure;

    Emergency measures on the energy market

    27. Considers that companies that have benefited from windfall profits must help to mitigate the negative impacts of the crisis; takes note of the State of the Union address by President von der Leyen on 14 September 2022; welcomes in principle the (Commission’s proposal and subsequent) Council agreement to establish a temporary emergency cap on market revenues obtained from the generation and sale of electricity by using inframarginal generation technologies and to put in place a temporary solidarity contribution mechanism from the fossil fuel sector, which is benefiting from the current market situation; recalls, in this regard, its previous position expressed in its resolution of 19 May 2022[14]; regrets that the Commission proposed its plans in the form of a Council regulation, using Article 122 TFEU as the legal basis, instead of a legislative co-decision procedure; recalls that this instrument should only be used for emergency situations; confirms that Parliament stands ready to act swiftly on this pressing issue if called upon, as it requires full democratic legitimacy and accountability;

    28. Calls on the Member States to swiftly implement these measures; considers that interventions in the energy market should be of a temporary and targeted nature and that fundamental market principles and the integrity of the single market must not be endangered; notes that the established mechanism could potentially lead to a disparity in revenues among the Member States;

    29. Takes note of the fact that solidarity contributions are being proposed for companies in the crude oil, natural gas, coal and refinery sectors; notes with concern that some of the largest energy companies in the EU may not be subject to the contribution; calls on the Commission and the Council to design the solidarity contribution in such a way as to prevent tax avoidance; notes that Member States could strengthen the proposal further; calls on the Commission to assess an adequate profit margin in the light of the emergency situation and to take further steps towards introducing a tax on windfall profits for energy companies that have benefited excessively from the energy crisis;

    30. Stresses that the revenues of windfall profits should benefit consumers and businesses, in particular to support vulnerable households and SMEs including through price caps; underlines that this must go hand in hand with massive innovation and investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency and energy infrastructure, such as distribution grids, rather than incentivising households and companies to consume more subsidised energy;

    31. Highlights the particular relevance, in the current context, of the public revenue that would be yielded from the implementation of the Pillar II Directive in the EU, which implements the OECD global tax deal on minimum effective corporate taxation; reiterates its call on the Council to swiftly adopt the Pillar II Directive so as to ensure that the agreement is effective by January 2023;

    32. Welcomes the energy demand obligations and goals introduced by the proposed Council regulation to tackle the problems of high energy prices and security of energy supply; urges the Member States to ensure that the measures they chose to adopt to implement the above obligations must not pose additional burdens for vulnerable households and consumers, businesses, SMEs or those living in energy poverty;

    33. Takes note of the Commission’s intention to discuss a reform of the electricity market design and is ready to carefully analyse any proposal; considers that any reform of the electricity market should be in line with the EU’s climate goals, notably the objective of achieving climate neutrality in the EU by 2050, and that electricity markets should send out the right price signal to invest in decarbonisation and allow citizens and industries to benefit from secure, affordable and clean energy, while addressing the disproportionate profits in the electricity market; calls on the Commission to analyse the possibility of decoupling electricity prices from the price of gas;

    34. Calls on the Commission to analyse the need to put in place additional measures to address the crisis, including temporary wholesale and import price caps; calls on the Commission to propose, after a positive analysis, a dynamic price cap on gas imports from pipelines, primarily from Russia; encourages the Commission and the Council to upgrade the EU Energy Platform and transform it into a tool for the joint procurement of energy sources in order to strengthen the EU’s bargaining power and lower the cost of imports; welcomes the Commission’s decision to set up a task force to negotiate gas prices with third countries;

    35. Welcomes the fact that the Commission, at the request of the Member States, is assessing possible solutions to provide needed liquidity for energy companies facing high margin calls on the futures markets for electricity and gas;

    Speculation in the energy market

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

    37. Calls for increased transparency and regulatory oversight of market-based and over‑the‑counter gas trading and on acquisition prices;

    38. Welcomes the antitrust lawsuit initiated by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition against Gazprom for abuse of its dominant position, and urges the Commission to swiftly conclude the procedure and adopt the necessary decisions; stresses that the Commission must make use of all the available tools under competition law to tackle market distortions and unfair price manipulation in the energy markets; believes that when it comes to identifying violations of competition law in the area of electricity and gas, the Commission must also consider applying structural measures as remedies;

    39. Notes that the Commission recognises[15] that Europe is experiencing manipulations of the gas market, which in turn have repercussions on electricity prices; calls for an end to speculation and manipulation in the gas market and calls for measures to be taken vis-à-vis the functioning of the TTF and the entities entitled to operate in the market; considers that these measures might include applying a trading halt mechanism in the TTF in the event of excessive price fluctuations and price collars, as suggested by ESMA, in order to decouple the indexation of contracts from the TTF hub; welcomes the Commission’s proposal to look into an alternative EU benchmark to the TTF for pipeline gas and liquefied natural gas; calls on the Commission, in particular its Directorate-General for Competition, and on ESMA, to closely monitor the European gas market for possible cases of market dominance or lack of transparency;

    40. Calls on the relevant competent authority to investigate, report and address possible cases of market abuse or market manipulation in commodity markets in general and in the gas market in particular;

    41. Calls on the Commission to look closely into the activities of financial players that contributed to the volatility in carbon price; urges the Commission to take action to eliminate the influence of speculative capital on the EU ETS allowances market;

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

     

    Last updated: 4 October 2022
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