The European Commission on Wednesday presented what it termed a “toolbox” for member states to use to protect households and businesses against rapidly rising energy prices without infringing the bloc’s competition rules.
The current price spike required a “rapid and coordinated response” and the existing legal framework allowed the EU to take action to address the immediate impacts, it said.
Among the measures proposed by Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson are emergency income support to households, state aid for companies, and targeted tax reductions.
The commission is also considering medium-term reforms to make the European energy market more resilient to price swings.
“As we emerge from the pandemic and begin our economic recovery, it is important to protect vulnerable consumers and support European companies,” Simson said.
“The commission is helping member states to take immediate measures to reduce the impact on households and businesses this winter,” he added
The toolbox also includes measures to counter future price swings, with the commission looking into a proposal for joint gas purchases and reserves.
Creating a European energy market is also to be considered.
Several member states have already intervened at the national level to protect private households against excessively high electricity and heating bills.
France, for example, has promised a tariff ceiling and plans to offer poorer households 100 euros (115 dollars) each. Italy wants to provide relief through tax cuts, among other things.
Concrete negotiations on the issue are to take place at the EU summit on October 21-22, commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last week.