EU lawmakers debate rising energy prices

European Union leaders are entering a crucial period this week to ensure that runaway energy prices and supply shortages do not further plague their struggling economies and foment unrest. At the same time, they must keep the 27 members united in their opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ahead of Thursday’s start of a key summit, European lawmakers gathered on Tuesday to discuss the divide between those who want to impose a common gas price cap to keep prices low and those who think it would primarily prevent the supply, further starving industries and businesses. .

Iratxe Garcia Perez, leader of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the European Parliament, called for an EU winter solidarity package.

“We can’t wait any longer because we can’t let people choose between heating themselves or eating,” she said.

Heading into the weekend, EU leaders will seek a compromise during two days of talks.

Within the EU, the wealthy bloc of 450 million people is struggling to find ways to prevent freezing temperatures from entering the homes of the poorest and businesses from collapsing due to lack of affordable energy.

Manon Aubry, an MEP from the left-wing group, said: “People are running out of meals, having to give up their leisure time. And families have to choose between filling up their cars or turning on the heating.”

In such a context of potential social foment, European leaders are in the process of agreeing a system of joint gas purchases to ensure that member states stop bidding against each other to increase reserves. and driving up energy prices in general.

To counter the threat of corporate bankruptcies and industrial decline, EU countries have independently started subsidizing threatened sectors, at the risk of distorting the market.

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Christi C. Elwood